How long can the S&P 500 keep 2,000?
How long can the S&P keep 2,000?

The Federal Reserve and Congressional politics threaten to rain on the market party.

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The company's funds got a huge boost after a recommendation earlier this year from Warren Buffett.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 12:57 PM
Credit: © NetPhotos/Alamy

Caption: Vanguard websiteBy Kirsten Grind, The Wall Street Journal

Investors are pouring money into Vanguard Group, the epitome of the hands-off approach to investing, flocking to funds that track market indexes and aren't run by stock pickers or star managers.

The inflow has pushed the mutual-fund giant to almost $3 trillion in assets under management for the first time.


The surge is part of a sea change in the fund business in which investors are increasingly opting for products that track the market rather than relying on managers to pick winners. Other firms, such as New York behemoth BlackRock (BLK) and Texas-based Dimensional Fund Advisors, are also enjoying an influx of cash.


Vanguard got a huge boost this spring when Warren Buffett gave it a public stamp of approval in March.

 

The PC market continues to contract, leading some analysts to wonder about the company's long-term prospects.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 12:40 PM
A Hewlett-Packard Co. LasetJet CP2025dn printer sits on display at an Office Depot store in Arlington, Virginia (© Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)By Jennifer Booton, MarketWatch

Despite a plan to axe another 16,000 jobs, analysts aren't all convinced sales of desktops and cost cuts will be enough to carry PC maker Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) forward over the long term.


In a note to clients Thursday morning, analysts at Cantor Fitzgerald said they believe the "long-term trajectory for HP remains in question" despite the massive restructuring.


The brokerage raised its price target on the veteran tech company to $34.50 from $30 previously, but maintained its "hold" rating and expressed concern over the "low-margin profile" of the PC market.


In a conference call on Wednesday, HP CEO Meg Whitman said the PC market continues to contract, even as the company reported 12 percent year-over-year PC revenue growth.

 
Tags: HPQ

The former head of Wells Fargo says the bank's massive settlement is 'definitely politics' and has nothing to do with justice.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 12:31 PM
Credit: © Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Caption: Bank of America Corp. signage is displayed at a branch in New YorkBy Matthew J. Belvedere, CNBC

The $16.65 billion settlement by Bank of America (BAC) over financial crisis-era mortgage securities highlights a pattern of the government extorting the banks, said Dick Kovacevich, former Wells Fargo (WFC) chairman and CEO.


"It's definitely politics. It has nothing to do with justice or restitution to the innocent victims. In fact, more of the money is going to the coffers of the states and various departments than the victims," Kovacevich said Thursday on CNBC's "Squawk Box."


The BofA payout -- the largest in a series of soaring penalties against banks for a range of misconduct -- was announced Thursday.

 
Tags: BACWFC

But the fact that the guilty bankers are still free and not even on the run is the real outrage here, a travesty that should never be forgotten.

By Jim Cramer Thu 12:13 PM

A Bank of America sign at a branch in Greenville, S.C. © Chris Keane/ReutersHow in heck can a company write a $17 billion check to the government and still have its stock go higher?


That's a legitimate question, given that Bank of America's (BAC) stock is up now that it has paid the Department of Justice its bounty, of which more than $9 billion is cash on the barrelhead -- enough to pretty much wipe out a quarter's worth of earnings along with any reserves.


The answer is simple: We are now able to estimate what Bank of America can earn. We are now able to put a number out there that can be reached. We are in the realm of "normalized earnings power."


TheStreet.com logoWhat does that mean? As long as this litigation hung over the head of this bank, it was impossible to figure out what it could earn. There were so many lawsuits by so many government entities, so many charges, and so many billions in legal fees, all on top of the $60 billion that had been shelled out, that we were simply guessing about what the company could earn.

 

Google might know where you go on the Web, but Facebook knows who you are and gives advertisers a demographic added context to utilize.

By TheStreet.com Staff Thu 11:30 AM

A Facebook page is displayed on a computer tablet © Peter Macdiarmid/Getty ImagesBy Keris Alison Lahiff, TheStreet


Facebook (FB) is a seasoned company by Silicon Valley standards, so its growth in advertising market share over its relatively short life is easily taken for granted. The little Harvard side-project is not only competing with tech titan Google (GOOGL) for online advertising dollars, it's gaining ground.


Facebook's secret weapon is mobile advertising, a market that is expected to grow 75 percent globally to nearly $32 billion this year, according to eMarketer estimates. With an influx of cash flooding online advertising, Facebook is managing to snap up the growth at a far greater pace than Google.


While Google still receives the majority of global mobile ad revenue at around half the total, its supremacy is slipping. By the end of 2014, eMarketer expects its mobile market share to fall to 46.8 percent from 52.6 percent two years earlier. Over the same period of time, Facebook is expected to accelerate its mobile ad revenue share to 21.7 percent from 5.4 percent, with its growth primarily at the expense of Google with very little change in share seen from other players such as Twitter  (TWTR) and Pandora  (P).

 

Do it once a year. This allows the best-performing asset classes to take off and run.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 4:34 PM
Image: Stock market report © CorbisBy Paul A. Merriman, MarketWatch

The yearly rebalancing of your investments is a dull chore that's tempting to postpone. 


Investors who put it off too long, however, can live to bitterly regret their procrastination.


Here are six things you need to know about rebalancing:


1. Risk

The main reason to rebalance isn't to make more money; it's to control your exposure to risk.


The most fundamental relationship that needs to remain properly balanced in a portfolio is the ratio of stock funds to bond funds. Imagine that your target allocation is 60 percent stocks (for growth) and 40 percent bonds (for income and stability).

 

Trucks will soon have electronic devices that make it harder to fudge the numbers on hours driven.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 4:13 PM
Credit: © Jetta Productions/Getty Images

Caption: Semi Truck driver in silhouetteBy Mamta Badkar, Business Insider

America is facing a shortage of truck drivers, and that problem is expected to get worse.


The current shortage is estimated to be at 30,000, and a new regulation will help drive that higher.


A mandate requiring commercial vehicles to have an electronic logging device is likely go into effect in early 2015. This will make it harder for drivers to fudge the numbers and work more than the legally mandated limit on hours.


Right now 75 percent of the industry does not have these logging devices. Analysts expect 100 percent compliance within a year or two of the rule going into effect.

 

The vehicles travel around with students throughout the day, giving the company inroads into one of its last uncharted territories: University campuses.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 3:22 PM
Credit: © Starbucks
Caption: Guests at a new Starbucks mobile truckBy Venessa Wong, Businessweek

College campuses might be among the few remaining places to escape the shadow of Starbucks (SBUX). 


There are roughly 11,500 Starbucks outlets in the U.S., but only about 300 of them are on U.S. campuses. That means most students of the country's 4,700 colleges are buying their coffee somewhere else.


That is about to change at three schools. The ubiquitous chain will peddle caffeine from food trucks at Arizona State University (which has also partnered with Starbucks to offer employees scholarships for its online program), James Madison University in Virginia, and Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina.

 
Tags: ARMKSBUX

Some 80% of the vehicles built south of the border are exported to other countries, mostly to the US.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 2:52 PM
redit: © Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Caption: An employee works on the assembly line producing the Ford Fiesta car, at the Ford Motor Co. plant in Cuautitlan Izcalli, Mexico, on Tuesday, May 11, 2010.By Joann Muller, Forbes

Everything you need to know about the future of the global auto industry is printed on the business cards of Carlos Lozano de la Torre, governor of Aguascalientes, Mexico, a central province named for its abundance of hot springs.


Seated at an enormous round table inside the ornate 17th-century government palace where he has his office, he reaches into the side pocket of his dark gray suit and shuffles through a stack: Here's one version in German, another in Chinese, another in English. 


"I have them in ten languages, but I only speak Spanish," he says with a chuckle as he hands over the English version.

 

It's been a rough road for the car-rental company. Analysts downgrade the stock after the news.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 2:14 PM
Credit: © Oliver Berg/EPA

Caption: A Hertz service counter at Cologne/Bonn airportBy Nathan Vardi, Forbes

Hertz Global Holdings (HTZ) shares fell sharply on Wednesday after the rental car company withdrew its financial guidance for 2014. 

The company said earnings would be "well below the low end of its 2014 guidance" because of  "operational challenges" and costs related to its accounting review.

In other words, things are a mess at Hertz. The company's stock has been a favorite among prominent hedge fund managers like Glenview Capital Management's Larry Robbins, York Capital Management's James Dinan and Fir Tree Partners' Jeffrey Tannenbaum.


Shares of Hertz plunged by more than 11 percent in Wednesday morning trading to $27.95, but recovered to a 9.5 percent loss in the afternoon. The stock had previously risen in August to a 52-week high of $31.61.

 
Tags: HTZ

The Nasdaq is booming, but some of the biggest names in technology haven't recovered.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 1:53 PM
Credit: © Kris Tripplaar/Rex Features

Caption: The headquarters of Cisco Systems, Inc., in Silicon Valley, San Jose, Calif.By Tomi Kilgore, MarketWatch

While the Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) has finally made it back to levels seen around the time the technology bubble popped more than 14 years ago, a number of tech-heavyweights that helped fuel the madness are still languishing at less than half their peak levels.


The tech-friendly Nasdaq Composite closed Tuesday at 4527.51, the highest level seen since March 31, 2000. 


The Nasdaq has soared more than four-fold since bottoming out at 1114.11 on Oct. 9, 2002, but is still an 11 percent rally away from its all-time closing peak of 5046.86 reached on March 9, 2000.

 

A 4.8% yield is drawing attention to this bundle of dividend stocks from Europe, Asia, Australia and Canada.

By InvestorPlace Wed 1:40 PM

Caption: Illustration of a businessman standing on stock prices looking up at line graphs over globe
Credit: © Roy Scott/Getty ImagesBy Kyle Woodley


If you're a dividend investor, chances are you're holding many of the space's stalwarts -- big, blue-chip American companies with rock-solid financials and gobs of cash that you can ride through thick and thin.


That's good. Don't stop doing that.


But if you're truly looking to diversify your holdings, that also means protecting yourself against a slump in the U.S. And one of the best ways to do that is to target the same types of big, blue-chip dividend companies you like here in the States . . . but elsewhere on the map.


One of the best ways to hunker down internationally is the iShares International Select Dividend ETF (IDV), a bundle of high-yielding dividend stocks from Europe, Asia, Australia and Canada.

 
Tags: DVYIDVSDY

Low interest rates are supposed to get money circulating, but instead investors are hoarding cash.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 12:46 PM
Image: Money with lock © Ingram Publishing, SuperStock​By Rex Nutting, MarketWatch

The conventional wisdom says the Federal Reserve is keeping interest rates so low that it doesn't pay to play it safe and that it's encouraging investors to do all sorts of crazy things to earn a higher yield.


Supposedly, the central bank is prompting investors to pump up stocks, junk bonds, farm land and all the other bubbles you've been reading about.


It's a nice story, but the data show that U.S. investors are still conservative about where they put their money.


Just how conservative are they?

 

The heavy-machine maker is getting killed in Asia. Its performance may say a lot about the world economy.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 12:17 PM
Credit: © Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters
Caption: The CAT logo is seen on the side of a Caterpillar machineBy Myles Udland, Business Insider

Caterpillar's (CAT) sales keep falling.

The heavy-machine maker just released its latest three-month rolling retail sales stats, which showed that sales, particularly in its Asia/Pacific segment, keep falling. 


Worldwide, total machine retail sales were down 12 percent in May, 10 percent in June and 9 percent in July when compared to the prior year period. 


These declines compare to year-on-year declines of 8 percent, 12 percent and 13 percent in February, March and April. 


In its Asia/Pacific segment, total machine sales were down 30 percent, 30 percent and 29 percent for the months of May, June, and July, respectively. 

 
Tags: CAT

The dollar is down, the Gaza truce is off, the Fed's minutes come out today, and company news is all bad.

By Jim Cramer Wed 11:57 AM

A pedestrian carrying an umbrella passes a U.S. flag on Wall Street in front of the exterior of the New York Stock Exchange in New York © Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesThe Germans and Russians were potentially working things out in Ukraine. Home Depot (HD) and some other retailers put up terrific numbers, and housing starts got stronger even as gasoline and mortgage rates went lower. Gaza was peaceful. The dollar was stable, and we seemed not to have all that much to worry about regarding the Federal Reserve.


Keep those circumstances in mind, because those were the thoughts that framed Tuesday's closing bell.


Now consider today.


TheStreet.com logoFirst, the dollar is soaring again, much harder than what we have seen of late. Why? Maybe because Ukraine wants more concessions and the Russians don't want to go quietly into the night? Second, at the Bank of England, the prior consensus to keep interest rates lower is unraveling as two members want higher rates. Third, the Gaza truce is off and the fighting is back on.

 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages continue trading near their flat lines with the S&P 500 up a fraction of a point. Earlier, we speculated that today's session could produce a volume total to rival Monday's lowest total of the year (482 million) and that remains likely considering only 129 million shares have changed hands so far at the NYSE floor.

Although equities have not moved much, there has been some activity in the foreign exchange market. Specifically, the euro/dollar pair ... More


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