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The Week:  Fishing For a Bottom

The bottom: If not now, when? It's the question that traders, fund managers, analysts and

CNBC.com

investors were all asking, all week. There were plenty of statistics to back up suspicions about the sorry state of the economy, as well as a few hints that prosperity could be once again just arouind the proverbial corner.

Bob Doll, Black Rock vice chairman and global CIO of equities, was quite blunt about it.

"No one rings a bell at the bottom, but I think I hear a bell ringing," he said.

Chasing the Price of Bear Stearns

Chasing the Price of Bear Stearns

The week began with JPMorgan Chase raising its historic offer for Bear Stearns from the fire-sale price of $2 to the still-a-steal price of $10. John Buckingham of Al Frank Asset Management owns both stocks and has no intention of selling.

"Ten dollars a share in any view is also a phenomenal deal, so we're going to continue to hold both of those stocks," Buckingham told CNBC. (Indeed, Bear Chairman James Cayne decided to sell at about that level).

The Media is the Message

If that seemed like a surprise, what Matthew Kaufler of Touchstone had to say was downright astonishing. Squawk Box's Joe Kernen certainly thought so.

"We like Time Warner," Kaufler said.

"WHAT? Seriously? Come on," Kernen exclaimed.

Kaufler admitted that Time Warner stock "has gone nowhere for seven years."

No Slippage In Oil

The oil market continued to bubble, with disruptions in Iraq giving rise to speculation about the the risk priced into world prices.

Indeed, many have been reassessing their oil price outlooks for the year. Just weeks after predicting a sharp drop in the price of oil, billionaire oil investor Boone Pickens said he's now convinced that the price of oil will remain above a hundred dollars a barrel for the rest of the year.

He's also bullish on natural gas, and on the stocks of companies in the natural-gas business.

"Chesapeake, Exco, Sandridge, and, if you're going to play the natural-gas fueling deal, you'd go to Clean Energy Fuels," he said.

Pickens is the largest shareholder in that last company.

Buy the Numbers?

With a few exceptions, the data continued to underscore how weak things have become.

- February existing home sales showed a surprise increase, but new home sales were down again.

- Orders for durable goods fell in February.

- Home prices extended their decline in January.

- Consumer confidence and consumer sentiment indices both posted declines in March.

- Final gross domestic product figures for the fourth quarter confirmed an abrupt economic slowdown at the end of last year.

- and Oracle reported disappointing quarterly earnings.

Other Significant Stories ...

Radio broadcaster Clear Channel Communications said Friday its pending acquisition by several private equity firms may not close, even though the firms are ready to consummate the deal.

Motorola finally bowed to the pressure exerted on it to split the company's handset unit from its other operations and separately list the groups. Richard Winsor from Nomura considers the separation plan. (Video: What Investors Should Consider)

What Now?

Vanguard founder and former CEO John Bogle didn't rule out the idea that the economy has

finally found a bottom, but he predicted continued sluggishness, perhaps even over the next several years. His advice was sobering.

"Be careful, have a little bit in bonds, be very diversified, and, I guess, hold onto your hat," he said.

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