Blade readers appear to be a bunch of optimists.
In the latest Pick the Dow contest, most entrants predicted that the Dow Jones industrial average will gain in the third quarter.
Of 221 contestants, more than half see the Dow moving up to the 9,100-9,500 range. The median prediction was about 9,400. If the Dow hits 9,400 by the end of the quarter, that would mean a gain of nearly 5 percent for the quarter and 13 percent since the first of the year. The Dow closed Friday at 9,119.59, up 83.55 for the day.
Our Pick the Dow contest is running four times this year — once each quarter. The contestant whose forecast is closest to the actual closing figure at the end of each quarter wins $100. For a tie-breaker, readers also predicted the closing figures for the Nasdaq composite index.
The entries for the current quarter, which were due June 30, range mostly from 7,700 to over 11,000. About a third of the entrants foresee the Dow rising above 9,600.
Among them is Toledoan Carl Forwerck, a 46-year-old maintenance worker for DaimlerChrysler's Jeep plant in Toledo. His forecast is 11,002.12, which would put the Dow close to where it was in 2000, when the bear market started.
“Things have got to turn around,” he said. “Things have got to get better.”
At the other end of the spectrum, about 15 percent of the entrants see the Dow dropping back below 9,100. Among the pessimists is Gary Nossaman, a 64-year-old retired teacher in Fremont, who picked the Dow to fall to 8,064.42.
“It will be a long time yet” before the economy will fully rebound, he said, adding that the war in Iraq will continue to be a drag on the economy. He said the third quarter historically doesn't do well.
Forecasting the Dow three months in advance “is just guesswork,” said Buzz Crane, Toledo manager for the brokerage firm of Smith Barney. However, in Blade stock-market contests readers often are pretty close to the mark, he said.
“The general public knows a lot more than you think,” he said.