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On Tuesday, March 13, 2012, the NASDAQ Composite Index closed above the 3000 level for the first time since December 2000. Conversely, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 218 points and closed at 13,177, its highest level since June 2008.

The early 2000s were of course the middle of the dot-com boom, a boon for NASDAQ’s technology laden market. They had reached 5000 points before the dot-com bubble burst, as many internet companies could not meet their own lofty projections.  The biggest example was AOL/Time-Warner, a company that lost over half of its value after being the number one internet service provider.

Market researchers say this 3000 level is much more trustworthy than eleven years ago, as the internet companies that have survived are stable and profitable.

Retailers saw rises in sales over the past five months, with the pace increasing in February. That goes against conventional wisdom, which sees a peak in December followed by a waning in the January to February time period. Car dealers, clothing retailers and of course gas stations all saw increases in consumer spending. A poll on small business outlook rose to the highest level since December 2007. 


 
 
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The Oyster Bay Beach Resort (OBBR) has been named a top five resort in the Caribbean by Travel + Leisure Magazine, beating out 495 competitors. OBBR has gone from strictly a hotel to a resort and timeshare community over the last three years by investing $20 million into renovations and upgrades.

St. Maarten is only 37 sq miles and very popular with Dutch and French tourists, so this is a great honor for OBBR. Located on the East coast of St. Maarten overlooking Oyster Pond and the Atlantic Ocean, the ownership of OBBR says the key to their lofty ranking is attention to customer care and their great location.

The fine dining at La Noche, where fishermen offer fresh seafood, is well regarded. Catch your own fish by going on many deep-sea expeditions offered by locals. Nearby St. Barth’s is the Caribbean’s version of Spain’s Ibiza, where partying and models abound. If you visit in March, you can attend the Heineken Regatta. Hiking, horseback riding and dining are some of the biggest pulls while visiting here.


 
 
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One of Africa’s most impoverished nations is not at the top of many people’s travel lists. But those who are willing to take the risk and adhere to certain precautions can find an exotic vacation with just the right kind of danger. Chad became a democracy in 2010 and this has brought peace to the country after a bloody Civil War and years of conflict.

The capital city of N’Djamena offers streets filled with houses from French colonial times. Chad’s history dates from before 2000 BCE, and many ancient human artifacts and dinosaur bones are on display at the Musee National N'Djamena. No visit to Chad would be complete without a day spent at Lake Chad, the country’s namesake and Africa’s largest freshwater river. Crocodile, hippos and many birds call the lake home. The country’s best hotel is the Le Meridien Chari. The Gala Brewery in Mondo brews one of Chad’s best beers. And the Parc National Zakouma is Chad’s first national park, and has lion, giraffe, cheetahs and leopards as well as many other large mammals. Since tourist accommodations are sparse, be sure to plan ahead.


 
 
Intercontinental Hotels, owners of the Crown Plaza and Holiday Inn brands, will create 3,000 jobs in the United Kingdom as part of their preparation for the 2012 London Olympics.

Two major restaurateurs, the Subway Corporation and McDonald’s International have also hired massive hiring operations in anticipation of the event.

Nick Clegg, the United Kingdom’s Deputy Prime Minister said "The British service sector is world-beating, and will soon welcome millions of guests. Intercontinental Hotels are leading the way in their sector through a tailored academy program. It's an added investment that means young people can learn the skills for the industry in a local college, and then start their career in a local hotel."