Wed, Dec 01, 2004 - Page 7 News List

The 'Twelve Days of Christmas` get more expensive

AP , PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA

Forget the birds, trees, jewelry, laborers and performers. How about a new Jaguar, a BMW 7 Series, a Mercedes Benz, or a 1949 Rolex?

The luxury cars and vintage watch would cost as much as all the gifts listed in the Christmas carol The Twelve Days of Christmas, according to PNC Financial Services Group Inc.

Each year, the Pittsburgh-based bank does a tongue-in-cheek tally of how much the drummers drumming, pipers piping, golden rings, turtle doves and golden rings would set you back if you bought them for your true love at today's prices. The bank began publishing the list in 1982 for institutional clients and released it publicly the next year.

This year, the price for all the gifts -- if they were bought repeatedly on each day as the song suggests -- hit US$66,334, up from US$65,264 last year.

Buying each item just once would cost US$17,279. That's still enough for a Mini Cooper, a ride in a Russian MiG jet fighter, a 4-hectare ranch in Colorado or a 1920s baseball signed by Babe Ruth.

This year, the nine ladies dancing would hit your wallet the hardest -- coming in at US$4,400 -- while the eight maids-a-milking are a bargain at US$41.20.

"The abundance of cheaper labor in countries such as India and China has resulted in pressure on US manufacturers to outsource unskilled labor," said Jeff Kleintop, chief investment strategist for PNC Advisors. "As a result, the cost of skilled dancers has steadily increased, while the unskilled milk maids haven't managed an increase in pay for many years."

The prices for the birds -- swans, geese, canaries (calling birds), hens, doves and partridges -- didn't change much from last year, coming in at US$4,201 compared to US$4,138, according to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens. But the dollar has been very weak -- you would have saved buying the three French hens last year when they were US$15 compared to US$45 this year.

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