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Indexes might not be in correction territory, but they're getting closer. Now's the time to consider what moves to make.

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A great deal is riding on first-quarter numbers that are about to roll out. Watch for these 3 key elements.

By Traders Reserve Fri 10:19 AM
Caption: Businesswoman touching stock chart on tablet
Credit: © kay/Getty ImagesBy Jamie Dlugosch

I'm a fundamental analyst. That means it all boils down to the numbers.


That's why I love earnings season. Instead of the market focusing on irrational speculation, we get real information that can allow us to determine fair valuations.


This year, the speculation on the long side has essentially disappeared. The narrative has been entirely about a pending end to the bull market and a potential correction or even worse.


Where oh where did the glass-half-full investors go?


They are being overwhelmed by the naysayers, but that can change in a heartbeat. All it takes are stronger-than-expected numbers. A good earnings report is all it takes to eliminate the doubt.

 

The company surprised analysts with sales that plunged from a year earlier. Is this stock in trouble?

By Motley Fool Investor Beat Thu 6:19 PM
Shares of Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) dropped 7 percent Wednesday after the company pre-announced earnings. Revenue was down 24 percent year over year, which was well beyond analysts' consensus estimate.

However, in Thursday's Stock of the Day, Motley Fool analyst Sara Hov says she doesn't see the news as all bad.

Part of that precipitous drop was $26 million in deferred revenue, which inflated the bad news a bit.  
Tags: ISRG

Biotechs and big tech stocks fare the worst in Thursday's thumping. Despite everything, the global economy is slowing.

By InvestorPlace Thu 6:07 PM

Caption: Traders work the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on the evening of January 23, 2014
File Name: John Moore/Getty ImagesBy Anthony Mirhaydari


On Thursday, for the second time so far this month, the stock market suffered an epic "outside reversal." This is where initial morning gains, above the previous day's highs, give way to an avalanche of selling that pushes the close below recent lows.


For chart watchers, this is a serious sign of weakness.


And to have a group of these patterns clustered together suggests more trouble lies ahead.


Yet again, the weakness was concentrated in the popular big technology and biotech stocks that were leaders in 2013, but have since succumbed to persistent underperformance.


So what went wrong? Simply put: Despite everything, the global economy is slowing.

 

The vulnerability that has online companies scrambling also affects the equipment that connects the Web.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 6:01 PM
Image: Network cable © Epoxydude/Getty ImagesBy Danny Yadron, The Wall Street Journal

The encryption bug that has the Internet on high alert also affects the equipment that connects the Web.


Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Juniper Networks (JNPR), two of the largest manufacturers of network equipment, said Thursday that some of their products contain the "Heartbleed" bug, meaning hackers might be able to capture user names, passwords and other sensitive information as it moves across corporate networks, home networks and the Internet.


Many websites -- including those run by Yahoo (YHOO), Amazon.com (AMZN) and Netflix (NFLX) -- quickly fixed the hole after it was disclosed Monday. But Cisco and Juniper said the security flaw affects routers, switches and firewalls used in businesses and at home.

 

Does he deserve that phenomenal paycheck? One of his trades in 2012 resulted in a whopping $2 billion in gains.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 3:47 PM
Image: Money © CorbisBy Nathan Vardi, Forbes

James Levin first got to know billionaire hedge fund manager Daniel Och when he taught Och’s son to water ski at camp a number of years ago. 


At 31, Levin these days is a prized employee at Och’s Och-Ziff Capital Management (OZM) hedge fund firm and last year Levin was paid phenomenally well even by the standards of the rich hedge fund industry.


According to a recent Securities & Exchange Commission filing, Och-Ziff Capital Management paid Levin $119 million in 2013. Nearly all of Levin’s compensation last year consists of stock awards and the value relates to the grant-date fair value of unvested Och-Ziff Group A units. A spokesman for Och-Ziff Capital Management declined to comment.

 

It isn't a huge payout compared to others, but it shows that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau means business.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 3:05 PM

Caption: A Bank of America sign outside a bank branch in Arlington, Va.
Credit: © Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty ImagesBy Eric Volkman, The Motley Fool


Well, that settles it. Bank of America (BAC), the latest bank to hammer out a deal with a regulator, has agreed to pay out roughly $772 million to retire allegations of deceitful business practices. 


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- the government's watchdog for customers of financial institutions -- claimed that Bank of America engaged in "deceptive marketing of their [credit card] add-on products." 


Let's dig in to the settlement a bit to see what it means for both the lender and its affected customers.

 

The company's best hope is to become a seller of services, not handsets.

By InvestorPlace Thu 2:26 PM

Caption: A BlackBerry smartphone
Credit: © Serge Pouzet/SIPA/Rex FeaturesBy Dan Burrows


If BlackBerry (BBRY) has any hope of surviving as a company, it's as a seller of services, not BlackBerry phones -- a reality that is quickly closing in on the company and anyone still holding BlackBerry stock.


CEO John Chen says he won't wait long to pull the plug on BlackBerry phones if it doesn't return to profitability in fairly short order.


BlackBerry shareholders had better hope he's sincere.


BlackBerry stock enjoyed a brief pop after its late-March earnings report when BBRY showed faint signs of life, but it's still stuck in a nasty downtrend.

 

With higher rates on the horizon, investors are about to get schooled in the nuances of this class.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 2:20 PM
U.S. savings bonds © Corbis, SuperStock By Shelly Schwartz, CNBC

For the last 20 years, it didn't particularly matter whether you owned U.S. bond funds or individual bonds.


Fueled by falling interest rates, they both delivered consistent income and a counterbalance to equity market volatility. No wonder the market grew faster than the domestic economy and tripled in size to just under $37 trillion.


But with higher rates on the horizon and the Federal Reserve slowly reducing the pace of its quantitative easing measures, investors are about to get schooled in just how different these securities can be. For financial advisors who have experienced only a bond market rally in their careers, this promises to be an eye-opener.

 

The program starts with $2,000 the first year and rises by $1,000 a year. Why? So only motivated employees stay.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 1:29 PM
Credit: © Rick Wilking

Caption: Boxes from Amazon.com are pictured on the porch of a houseBy Jim Edwards, Business Insider

Here's our favorite part of Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos' annual letter to shareholders

He describes how the company will pay Amazon's warehouse workers up to $5,000 to quit their jobs.

The intent of the program is to ensure that Amazon retains only people who really, really want to work at Amazon.

 
Tags: AMZN

Instead of moving away from sugary drinks, the beverage maker decides to boost advertising.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 1:00 PM
By MCaption: An employee arranges bottles of Coca-Cola at a store in Alexandria, Va.
Credit: © Kevin Lamarque/Reutersike Esterl, The Wall Street Journal


For 13 years running, Americans have been drinking less Coke. Now Diet Coke sales are falling off a cliff. Globally, sales growth of soda is slowing amid concerns about sugar intake and obesity.


The trends are industrywide, but it is especially bad news for Coca-Cola (KO), a company that derives almost 75 percent of its global sales volume from carbonated soft drinks.


"Sugar water with bubbles is not the future of the world. There's an existential issue,'' said Tom Pirko, an industry consultant at Bevmark LLC.


A growing number of industry analysts suggest Coca-Cola should spend less to advertise cola and more to diversify aggressively through acquisitions of companies, like energy-drink maker Monster Beverage (MNST). Sales of Coke's nonsodas, including Minute Maid juice, Dasani water and Powerade sports drinks, rose 5 percent last year by volume.

 
Tags: KOMNSTPEP

As folks fear their own shadows these days, Jamie Dimon's incisive words should urge you to take more risk.

By Jim Cramer Thu 11:35 AM

Businessman scared of his shadow © 237/Martin Barraud/Ocean/Corbis"It seems that just about everyone has become a risk expert and sees risk behind every rock. They don't want to miss it -- like they did in 2008. They want to be able to say 'I told you so.' And therefore they identify everything as risky."


That gem, one of many you can glean from JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon's annual letter, is meant to describe banking in America and in the world today.


However, it might as well have been meant for people who invest in the stock and bond markets these days.


TheStreet.com logoDimon's letter is chiefly about the post-recession landscape and how it has changed us -- or, more accurately, scarred us. Although he simply can't bring himself to say it, the massive and greedy screw-ups by businesses, particularly on the part of bankers, have led to a backlash against capital.

 

The Whopper maker is planning a move into the Black Sea peninsula, upping its game in a heated fast-food rivalry.

By The Week Thu 11:29 AM

A Burger King Whopper hamburger and French fries (© Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)Just a few weeks after McDonald's (MCD) announced it was shuttering its Crimea locations for "manufacturing reasons," Burger King (BKW) is reportedly eyeing a move into the Black Sea peninsula.


The Whopper maker is still deciding how many locations to open in the newly annexed Russian territory, where it currently has none.


"We are planning entry to Crimea, but I cannot say when this will happen," said CEO of Burger King Russia Dmitry Medovy to local media.


He added that the company is already actively searching for restaurant locations.

 
Tags: BKWMCD

The company is putting $2 billion into the effort, its largest renewable investment anywhere on the planet.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 10:39 AM
File photo of wind turbines (© Thomas Northcut/Lifesize/Getty Images)By Peter Kelly-Detwiler, Forbes

Ikea announced Thursday morning that it is buying its first wind farm in the United States, a 98 MW wind project in Hoopestown, Ill., approximately 110 miles south of Chicago.  

This purchase represents the single largest renewable investment made by Ikea anywhere on the planet, and gets the company closer to its goal of being net zero (producing as much as it consumes) by 2020.  The total amount of money allocated to this corporate energy effort is $2 billion.

The Hoopestown project, currently under construction and including 49 two MW Vestas turbines, will be complete by the first half of 2015.  Steve Howard, chief sustainability officer of Ikea Group, commented in a press release that "we are delighted to make this investment -- it is great for jobs, great for energy security, and great for our business. Importantly, it's great for the future of our climate."

 

These blue chips are cruising on price momentum and seasonal strength.

By InvestorPlace Thu 9:07 AM

John Deere equipment stands ready for sale
© Orlin Wagner/APBy Dan Burrows


The market opened the second quarter with such serious and extended selling that it's hard to believe there are any stocks with price momentum left.


The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) notched an all-time closing high on April 2, but since then, stocks have struggled to maintain. The broader market is off more than 2.5 percent since then, led down by high-flying momentum stocks and sectors.


Of course, it's always important for the market to bleed off some steam after an extended run. After all, it's the backfilling -- the buying by investors looking for better prices -- that sets the foundation for new highs later. And with the S&P 500 rising nearly 10 percent in about two months . . . well, it was probably time for a breather.

 
Tags: DEGISJNJ

What does the company's report say about the market bears who feared an imminent correction?

By Motley Fool Investor Beat Wed 6:12 PM
Shares of Alcoa (AA) were up Wednesday after the company reported earnings after market close Tuesday, beating adjusted earnings per share estimates by 4 cents. As the first company to report each earnings season, many analysts look to Alcoa's report as somewhat of a bellwether for where the overall market is heading.

On Wednesday's Stock of the Day, host Erin Kennedy and Motley Fool analyst Simon Erickson take a look at the report from Alcoa. Simon breaks down for investors the strength he saw in its upstream, midstream and downstream segments, and discusses the momentum the company has behind it at the moment.  
Tags: AA

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