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Stocks are hot. Investors are not.

By Dian Vujovich

Yahoo! The stock market is closed today. Whether the close is based around something religious, like Good Friday, or political, like Independence Day, or just because of the New Year, the simple act of not trading stocks every now and again does give people time to pause. And that’s a good thing.

Wall Street has plenty to crow about from a performance standpoint. As for investors, according to one source there are fewer of them partaking in stock ownership today than there have been in 12 years.

First, let’s look at performance.

Even though the market has been volatile, news about our government’s debt startling and politicians on both sides of the aisle unwilling to honestly want to resolve our fiscal issues, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed on Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 12,505.99, it was near its 3-year high. You can thank positive earnings reports for that.

As a result, that leaves four stocks in the Dow now trading under $20 a share: Bank of America, at $12.31; Cisco, $16.94; GE, $19.95; and Pfizer at $19.97.

Now let’s look at investor participation in this most recent rally.

Based on data in Tim Iacono’s Seeking Alpha blog, a chart showing the results of a Gallup poll reveals that there are fewer people invested in stocks today than there have been since 1999. (That’s the year Gallup began collecting this info.)

Data in the chart was based upon this Gallup question: Do you personally, or jointly with a spouse, have any money invested in the stock market right now— either in an individual stocks, a stock mutual fund, or in a -self-directed 401k(k) or IRA?

Here’s a bit of what the chart shows:

• In 1999, 58 percent of American’s were invested in stocks

• By 2002 that percentage had swelled to 67 percent.

• One year later, 2003, it dipped to 60 percent.

• By 2007 it was up to 65 percent.

• Then, then fell steadily and by 2009 sat at 57 percent.

• And this year, 2011, stock ownership is 54 percent.

See the entire chart for yourself at: http://tinyurl.com/3l6b7o2 or
http://seekingalpha.com/article/264988-american-stock-ownership-declines?source=email_watchlist .

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