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The Yonder 40 — the 40 stocks picked to reflect the rural economy — fared better than the other major stock indexes last week. The DY 40 was down by 1.3% while the Dow Industrials lost over 4% and the S&P 500 tumbled 4.5%. Since the Yonder 40 began in July 2007, the rural stock index holds a small lead over the Dow, the S&P and the NASDAQ.

Which rural companies did well last week? Nobody did better than the gunmaker Sturm Ruger, which jumped 45% last week. The company’s net sales were significantly higher in 2008 than in ’07. Firearm sales grew from $144 million in 2007 to $174 million in 2008. (Those reports of higher gun sales in November apparently were real.) Regions Financial was up more than 20% for the week, but is still battered along with the rest of the financials. Smithfield Foods, a pork producer, and chicken king Tyson were both up over 9%.

Most of the Yonder 40 were down, like the economy. The housing market is awful, so capet-maker Mohawk dropped by more than 20% last week. Energy companies also dropped, as prices for fuel remain low. 

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