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Key sector groups and asset classes roll over on evidence of a new slowdown.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Mar 22, 2012 1:21PM

Investors have been shaken violently from their slumber this week. Instead of the "sure thing" easy confidence that has dominated, fueled by massive central bank intervention and a wash of cheap money, there is growing fear that something ain't right. Each day brings new evidence that something is wrong with the global economy.

 

Thursday, reports out of China and the eurozone disappointed markets. Previous bastions of growth, Germany and China, are beginning to succumb to negative headwinds. In the Middle Kingdom, the HSBC flash manufacturing PMI indicated a month-to-month drop in activity for the fifth consecutive time on a particularly nasty drop in new export orders.  In Europe, the manufacturing activity surveys, Irish GDP, U.K. retail sales and industrial production fell short.

 

As a result, the bears continue to test the bulls' defenses, with energy shares joining a list of other economically sensitive areas that have rolled over and started to underperform. They include industrial commodities, basic materials and emerging-market stocks. Here's why there's more trouble ahead -- and a few ideas on how to profit.

 

Computer sales are sagging, but a report claims the October release of the new operating system will reinvigorate the market.

By TheWeek.com Mar 22, 2012 12:58PM

Image: Woman with laptop (© Corbis)These days, it's nearly impossible to ignore Apple (AAPL) and its sleek and sexy gadgets. But PC makers are hoping that Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows 8 will revive what has become a lethargic market. 


According to Bloomberg, the "reimagined" Windows OS will go on sale in October, along with a splashy new cast of ultrabooks and other razor-thin computers (some of which will have touchscreens equipped to take full advantage of Windows 8 swipe-based interface). 

 

An executive says oil companies lack necessary data to successfully drill for shale gas outside the US.

By Trefis Mar 22, 2012 12:44PM
Image: Natural gas plant (© Kevin Burke/Corbis)George Krikland, head of Chevron's (CVX) oil and gas production, has warned that multiple technical and logistical issues have to be resolved before shale exploration can take off in regions outside the U.S. 

The executive said Chevron would take at least three to five years before deciding whether it would begin any shale exploration outside America, and that gas production from such projects would be at least a decade away. Kirkland stated that sufficient data was not available for players to start investing in projects in Europe or China. Chevron and Exxon Mobil (XOM) have actively sought to drill exploratory wells in countries like Poland in the recent past to explore shale opportunities outside of North America.
 
Tags: CVXXOM

Skinner will step down after a tenure that saw the fast-food giant's stock soar more than 230%.

By Jonathan Berr Mar 22, 2012 12:22PM
Image: Hamburger (© BananaStock/Jupiterimages)McDonald's (MCD) CEO Jim Skinner, who assumed the leadership of the iconic burger chain after his two predecessors unexpectedly died, has decided to call it quits effective June 30. 

His career was remarkable for many reasons.
 
Tags: MCDWEN

One market seer believes the company deserves more credit than it gets.

By TheStockAdvisors Mar 22, 2012 12:13PM
By Paul McWilliams, Next Inning

Some company executives are very good at making it easy for Wall Street to fall in love with their companies. Some aren't. Oracle (ORCL) falls into the latter group.

As a matter of fact, there are times when I think Oracle founder Larry Ellison goes out of his way to make it hard for Wall Street to even like his company. This, more than anything else, is why I think the price of ORCL is failing to respond to a very strong quarterly report and optimistic outlook. 

Novo Nordisk is downgraded to 'sell,' and United Continental is initiated with an 'outperform.'

By MSN Money Partner Mar 22, 2012 11:25AM
Information provided by Theflyonthewall.com

Thursday's noteworthy upgrades include:
  • American Electric (AEP) upgraded to Sector Perform from Underperform at RBC Capital
  • Emerson (EMR) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Nomura
  • Exxon Mobil (XOM) upgraded to Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan
  • Western Digital (WDC) upgraded to Strong Buy from Buy at Needham
  • Lions Gate (LGF) upgraded to Below Average from Sell at Caris
  • OpenTable (OPEN) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
 

Some gold bugs believe the current slide in bullion is an opportunity to buy.

By Gene Marcial Mar 22, 2012 10:53AM

Shares of gold mining companies were never able to catch up with the meteoric rise of bullion prices to record highs last year. And now that the metal has started heading south this year, shares of gold producers, such as Newmont Mining (NEM), Barrick Gold (ABX) and Goldcorp (GG), have been pushed back as well.

 

However, some gold bugs who are more inclined to buy gold stocks rather than the yellow bar regard the stocks' fall as an opportunity, rather than a setback. More than ever, they are inspired and encouraged to snap up shares of the mining companies. The stocks have pulled back so much that like a coiled spring they are ready to snap back up once gold prices heat up again. True, they have more distance to catch up, but catch-up they will, according to the gold bulls.

 

US companies are dominating their international rivals once more, as the times they are a-changin'.

By Jim Cramer Mar 22, 2012 10:22AM

We've got a big change going on, one that feels almost like another era, when America was ascendant and we had the capital and the smarts to go international.

 

We're not used to it. Three months ago we were negatively joined at the hip to Europe. Our financials were their financials. Our financials had to play with one hand tied behind their backs because of regulation.

 

Regional GDP growth might be slowing, but it should be sustainable.

By InvestorPlace Mar 22, 2012 10:04AM
By Susan J. Alise

China and India might be the first countries that come to mind when the topic turns to emerging-market opportunities, but some of the most intriguing plays now are just south of the border in Latin America.


Latin America is an exciting area for investors now because the region as a whole is experiencing economic expansion. Slower growth in trading partner economies like China is expected to have an impact on that rate of growth in the near future, so don't expect the recent 5.4% GDP growth to continue.

 

This Latin American conglomerate has seen 21 consecutive quarters of growth.

By TheStockAdvisors Mar 22, 2012 9:09AM

By Paul Goodwin, Cabot China & Emerging Markets Report

Ultrapar Participacoes SA (UGP) is a Brazilian conglomerate with deep roots in the country's energy industry.

It is the second largest fuel distributor in Brazil, and the largest LPG distributor, ethylene oxide producer and liquid bulk storage provider. It is thus positioned to benefit from the growth of Brazil and Latin America in general, and growing automobile ownership in particular.

 

A successful expansion could open the door to a whole new world of opportunities.

By Trefis Mar 22, 2012 8:53AM
Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) is one stock that just seems to love to rise. Its year-to-date return for 2012 is more than 20%, outperforming the broader indexes once again. Since the news of its plan to open new restaurants in Europe came out, the stock has risen more than 5%.

Although the region holds plenty of potential, it is important not to be carried away with the excitement associated with the news. Chipotle competes mostly with quick-service and casual-dining restaurants such as Chili's, McDonald's (MCD), Burger King, Yum Brands (YUM) and Papa John's. We have a $393 price estimate for Chipotle, implying a discount of 5% to the current market price. 
Tags: CMGMCDYUM

The shipping giant posts quarterly results and a higher profit than expected, while the fast-food chain will get a new CEO in June.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 22, 2012 7:49AM

By Chao Deng

 

Updated at 9:00 a.m. ET

 

FedEx (FDX), the package delivery giant reported earnings of $1.65 per share for its third quarter ended Feb. 29. Excluding one-time items, earnings were $1.55 per share and revenue was up 9% from the previous year to $10.56 billion. Analysts expected profit of $1.35 a share on revenue of $10.6 billion.

 

McDonald's (MCD) CEO Jim Skinner will step down on June 30 and hand the reigns of the world's largest hamburger chain to President Donald Thompson. Skinner has been CEO since 2004. Thompson, 48 years old, has long been considered among the top candidates in line to succeed Skinner. He has been with McDonald's for 22 years. He will be the first African American to head McDonald's.

 

The company is laying the groundwork to stand out from other rivals jumping into the video-streaming business.

By Benzinga Mar 21, 2012 6:57PM

By Brandon Pilzner, Benzinga


Shares of Netflix (NFLX) saw strength Wednesday, closing up 4.4% to $120.10 after the company announced an exclusive deal with notable horror director Eli Roth.


Netflix will give members exclusive access to "Hemlock Grove," a series based on the critically acclaimed novel by Brian McGreevy. The series, slated to run for 13 episodes, updates classic monster archetypes for a post-industrial America in a tale of alienation, adolescence and murder.

 

Expectations are that first-quarter earnings will be slightly lower this year.

By Jim J. Jubak Mar 21, 2012 3:19PM
Image: Wall Street trader at trading desk (© Tom Grill/Photographer)First-quarter earnings season doesn't officially start until Alcoa (AA) reports on April 10, but I'm already seeing signs that Wall Street analysts are buckling their seatbelts in preparation for a bumpy ride.

The current read is that first-quarter earnings for the stocks in the Standard & Poor's 500 ($INX) will come in 0.5% below earnings for the same period a year earlier. That would be the first year-to-year drop in quarterly earnings since the third quarter of 2009.

There's no one big culprit to the drop, according to analysts, but rather lots of modest declines adding up to an overall drop.
 
Tags: AAJPMWFC

The company spent nearly $800,000 on chartered flights for Lou D'Ambrosio last year. It also spent $30,000 on temporary housing for him -- and even paid some of his taxes.

By Kim Peterson Mar 21, 2012 2:16PM
Image: Paper airplane made of money (© Tetra Images/Corbis)Sears Holdings (SHLD) is closing as many as 182 stores in an effort to save money. But it has no problem shelling out for plane flights for its CEO.

The company spent nearly $800,000 last year flying CEO Lou D'Ambrosio on private flights for his commute between his Philadelphia home and Sears' headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Ill. It also spent $30,000 on temporary housing for D'Ambrosio in Hoffman Estates and more than $10,000 on ground transportation and company-furnished vehicles.

Some of those perks classify as compensation for D'Ambrosio, and he would normally have to pay taxes on that income. But Sears took care of that, paying $18,200 in "tax gross-ups" on D'Ambrosio's tax bill. 
Tags: SHLD

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[BRIEFING.COM] The headlines generally favored Tuesday being another good day for the stock market.  Instead, it was just a mixed day with modest point changes on either side of the unchanged mark for the major indices.

For the most part, the stock market was a sideshow.  The main trading events were seen in the commodity and Treasury markets, both of which saw some decent-sized losses within their respective complex.

Dollar strength was at the heart of the weakness in ... More


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