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Wall Street, Fiat and papal power

By Dian Vujovich

They played hooky, took time off from work and came by planes, trains, buses, mini-vans, cars and on foot in hopes of getting a nano-second glimpse of this wildly popular pontiff. So whatever religious leanings you may have, if any, there is one thing you can’t deny: Pope Francis sure can draw a crowd.

For literally hundreds of thousands of the faithful, just being in Pope Francis’ presence –whether in person or via televised screen—will have an impact that’s remembered for each in decades to come.

And that’s the holy part.

As for money, to secure his safety hosting cities have spent millions upon millions. Businesses likely to pick-up revenues thanks to his visit include hotels, restaurants and vendors right along with manufacturers of collectible trinkets reflecting His Holiness.

On Wall Street, however,unlike the pope’s four-day stay there was no four-day rally—only a one-day one.

A week ago Friday, on September 18, 2015, the DJIA closed at 16,384.58. One week later, at the close of business on September 25th, it stood at 16,314.67. In other words, Pope Week wasn’t really all that financially rewarding.

The again, on Friday the 25th, the DJIA did close up 113.35. And with history as our guide, the market has always closed up on the day that the pope, whatever pope, addresses the U.N. General Assembly, which Pope Francis did on Friday.

This year’s increase represented a positive gain on that index of 0.7 percent. The average increase on the Dow on the day each of the four previous popes made their address was 1.23 percent, according to Bizjournals.com. So in very Pope Francis modest and understated fashion, one could say that the pope still has his hand on Wall Street.

Other papal hits include that adorable itsy bitsy black Fiat 500L that the pope selected for his ride while town touring. According to Kelly Book, there has been a 50 percent increase in people searching info on that little baby. The stock, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, N.V., (FCA.MI), closed Friday at $11.72, up 37 pennies and about mid-way between its 52-week low share price of $6.57, and its 52-week high of $16.29.

I think it’s fair to say that sales on the kinda funky, no-frills, 30 miles-per-gallon, four-cylinder, oh-so Italian Fiat— priced under $20,000— could easily climb for those at all income levels. After all, who doesn’t want a ride like the pope’s?

Finally, I haven’t seen official numbers but one source reported that Etsy has over 800 listed pope-related items for sale. On Amazon, however, the #1 biggest seller is, you’ve guessed it, the Pope Francis Bobblehead. It sells for $29.95, plus $5.95 for shipping. I’m not fond of the dark eyebrows on the pope’s bobbing head but what the heck, I’m not a Catholic so it looks like a must have to me.

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