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It's OK for executives to sound off against the government -- if they deliver the goods regardless.
We all know that Washington, D.C., has become the enemy of business. Its pro-labor orientation, its insistence on more regulation (including environmental rules that are expensive to comply with) and its regular bashing of businesses like banking and tourism (think Vegas or the private jet industry) hurt new hiring and business formation.
No one can fault business people for grousing about how Washington has become a big impediment to corporate profits. But does that mean everyone has the right to blame Washington for weaker returns? Does it mean that chief executive officers should be sounding off about Washington headwinds on their conference calls?
First, I never mind hearing it. When so many leftists are demanding that big businesses hire more people here, you want execs to point out that when Boeing (BA) decided to build a new plant in a state that's not that hospitable to unions, South Carolina, the National Labor Relations Board went after it with hobnail boots.
There's plenty of bad news ahead for this economy, and late summer is typically a tough time for stocks anyway.
Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET Thursday
I haven't heard anyone breathe the word, but we've come close this week.
Pimco's Bill Gross told Bloomberg TV: "We're not looking at a recession yet, but we're at a tipping point."
And Harvard's Martin Feldstein, who was the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Ronald Reagan, said: "This economy is really balanced on the edge. There's now a 50% chance that we could slide into a new recession."
I love the smell of fear in the market. It usually signals that a buying opportunity is approaching.
Thursday's slide wiped out all of 2011's gains, with the Dow Jones industrials ($INDU), the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) and the Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) all down more than 11% year to date.
The gold market is changing.
In a December 2009 interview, with gold around $1,150 per ounce, the Bank of Korea's Lee Eung Baek said to Bloomberg:
There's an illusion in gold. We follow the big trend. Gold isn't the trend. Out of more than 200 nations, how many countries have bought bullion? ... [Gold] offers little value.
A powerful and long-lasting trend
At 25 tonnes (rough worth: $1.3 billion), the purchase isn't huge for a central bank -- hedge fund Paulson & Co.'s position in the SPDR Gold Shares ETF (GLD) at the end of March was over three times that size. However, it's indicative of a phenomenon that I highlighted 13 months ago, when I wrote that, "we may be witnessing an important shift in the way central bankers perceive gold, which could become a powerful and long-lasting trend."
Budweiser may have been passed by Coors Light as No. 2 in the US.
Coors Light is very close to booting Budweiser from its No. 2 spot as the best-selling beer after Bud Light, Advertising Age reports. It might have already passed Budweiser, but the race is too close to call. And executives from MillerCoors feel so good that they think even Miller Lite will beat out Budweiser by next year.
The trade publication Beer Marketer's Insights said this week that it's probably too late for Budweiser to make a comeback. Budweiser will likely fall to No. 3.
At least Bud Light is untouchable so far. But the iconic Budweiser has watched sales slide for two decades straight.
Franchisees are dealing with the higher costs of coffee and milk.
The owner of the two chains, Dunkin' Brands (DNKN), said franchisees have raised some prices to cover the spike in coffee costs, Reuters reports. Some Dunkin' Donuts stores raised coffee prices, while others pushed the increases to breakfast sandwiches and cold drinks instead.
Baskin-Robbins stores are paying more for milk, and the company said it expects those costs to remain high. So the ice cream shops are planning to raise prices in the third quarter.
Dunkin' Brands is trying to lower prices by using other suppliers and negotiating contracts, Reuters reports.
Investors looking for pure exposure to this sector should turn to one fund.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
A number of consumer-focused exchange-traded funds provide investors with ample coverage of the industry. For instance, the PowerShares Dynamic Leisure & Entertainment Portfolio (PEJ) lists companies like CBS (CBS), Viacom, and Discovery Communications (DISCA) within its top 10 positions.
Investors looking for pure exposure to the media industry, however, should turn to the PowerShares Dynamic Media ETF (PBS).
New fears about the economy have trumped the debt resolution, and the sell-off is in full swing. Here are some critical support levels to watch for.
William Marovitz is accused of trading Playboy shares after receiving insider information.
The commission sued William Marovitz, the son-in-law of Hugh Hefner, accusing him Wednesday of insider trading. Update: Marovitz announced Wednesday he will pay $168,352 to settle the insider trading charges. That includes $100,952 in improper trading gains, $34,236 in interest and a $33,164 civil fine. He did not admit wrongdoing in the settlement.
According to the SEC, Marovitz got inside information from his wife, the former head of Playboy. He then bought and sold shares ahead of announcements about potential acquisitions, quarterly earnings and stock offerings.
If transportation stocks are any guide, crude could keep sliding.
The transportation sector uses more than 70% of U.S. petroleum production and imports, according to Rigzone. When the transportation index drops, it's usually followed by a drop in crude oil prices. "We suggest keeping a close eye on the transports as the proverbial 'canary in the coal mine' in preparation of rotating out of the energy sector ahead of what historically has signaled grief for the industry," Rigzone writes.
And that could be the case now. The Dow Transportation Index has dropped 12.3% since July 7.
The sluggish economy has investors buying Treasurys and yield-paying stocks.
By Robert Holmes, TheStreet
Many Americans are relieved, though angered, that Congress worked out an eleventh-hour deal so the world's largest economy would avoid defaulting on its debt.
But the situation is even worse than they may have feared. After legislators stop playing political games with the nation's debt limit, they will face calls to revive the economy, which has slowed dramatically. Restricting borrowing and raising taxes, which is likely, will put an even larger damper on the economy.
With such dire circumstances, investors now have an appetite for U.S. Treasurys and dividend stocks as they count on income in tough times, says Jason Brady, a co-portfolio manager for the Thornburg Investment Income Builder Fund (TIBAX). Investors' reaction to recent economic data re-enforces the need for better risk management and dependable income.
Between the terrible data on housing, autos and retail sales and the near financial death of the US, it's no wonder we're hurting.
OK, July was an awful month. Awful for housing. Awful for cars. Awful for retail sales. Just plain awful. All made worse by the climate of fear stemming from a president and a Congress that told us we were about to die financially, and all I can say is: You don't feel great after having a near-death experience.
Not only that, but Europe was awful, too, particularly its banks, which are experiencing the kind of sell-off that we had around TARP. The declines are hideous.
You can't be that excited about Brazil, India or China either, because they are trying to raise interest rates to stem inflation, but it isn't working. Inflation is still going up.
So you can say we are on some sort of precipice and the stock market is doing its level best in eight days to build in the fall from the precipice. Here's the issue: Is there anyone who doesn't know this?
The consensus among technical analysts is that we have roughly a 6% slide in store for the major indexes. Here's how to prepare.
By Jeff Reeves, Editor, InvestorPlace.com
Well, the markets sure were ugly Tuesday, and Wednesday was shaping up to be bad as well. What does the stock market hold going forward?
The unfortunate answer is that we face more of the same. So it's time to prepare your portfolio with a three-step survival guide.
But first the details on the slide -- and predictions on how ugly things will get before this ride downhill finally hits bottom:
The Obama administration has proposed to boost US fuel-efficiency standards to 54.5 miles a gallon.
Wall Street gives the new debt deal a big thumbs down as stocks and commodities plunge, taking out significant technical support.
It was an ugly, ugly session Tuesday. It seemed strange, considering Congress got its act together to pass a debt deal with not a day to spare. The deadline was Tuesday, when the bill was passed into law. How's that for cutting it close?
Stocks plunged anyway, with the S&P 500 dropping more than 2.6% in its worst one-day loss in nearly a year. And it caps an eight-day 6.7% losing streak for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the worst run since May 2010, a month that featured the "flash crash" and the panicked start to the eurozone debt crisis.
Investors are reacting to a number of big negatives: the fact that the debt bill probably won't save America's AAA credit rating, the fact the economy is on the edge of falling into outright contraction, and the fact that the eurozone crisis is spreading like a disease into Italy and Spain.
As a result, significant technical support was taken out, clearing the way for a very nasty and dramatic market meltdown over the next few days. Here's why.
One newsletter says that if you have $100,000 to invest, then Exxon is a better choice than the 10-year Treasury.
Normally, an investor mulling these two options would look to Treasurys for security, safety and a higher yield, and to Exxon Mobil for growth opportunities.
But is Exxon Mobil, which closed Tuesday at $77.86, now the safety net? The company has raised its dividend every year since 1983, writes Asset Inflation, a contributor on Seeking Alpha. The stock now has a $1.88 dividend for a 2.35% yield.
The Treasury note, with its (for now) triple-A rating, has a yield of 2.66%.
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Try as the bears might, they couldn't break U.S. stocks. But investors still face frothy prices and considerable headwinds.
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[BRIEFING.COM] Stocks entered the weekend on a mixed note as the S&P 500 shed 0.1% while the Dow ended with a gain of 0.1%.
The major averages began the day on a lower note as nine of ten sectors saw losses of more than 0.5%.
The consumer staples sector was the lone exception as the group spent the entire day in positive territory thanks to the relative strength of Dow component Procter & Gamble (PG 81.89, +3.19). The second-largest staple stock advanced ... More
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