A Mexican wave for Big Oil?
Mexico opens way for Big Oil

New legislation is allowing foreign companies to finally invest in the country's vast oil reserves.

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Better growth in the US should help the Russell 2000 catch up to the larger-cap indices in the weeks ahead.

By MoneyShow.com Dec 19, 2011 4:11PM

By Igor Greenwald, MoneyShow.com


If the US economy falls into recession sometime next year as a result of the financial crisis in Europe and the slowdown in China, it won’t be for lack of effort.


Right now, the US is looking like the main global growth engine and, frankly, the only reason the remaining stock investors have to stay in the markets and not bury their money under a mattress.


Initial unemployment claims haven't been this low in three years, fueling hopes that the job market has finally turned the corner. 

 
Tags: EBIX

While bellwethers like Apple and Amazon look poised to underperform, one stock is worthy of consideration.

By MoneyShow.com Dec 19, 2011 3:38PM

 (© Comstock)By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com


The relative performance, or RS analysis, of the tech-heavy PowerShares QQQ Trust (QQQ) broke out last July, and while the broader markets were dropping in August and September, technology stocks held up much better.


This outperformance of QQQ versus the S&P, however, ended in early November, and QQQ has been lagging since. Sentiment on many of the tech giants has also been quite negative, as both Apple (AAPL) and Amazon.com (AMZN) have disappointed investors.

 

The investment may help alleviate investors' anxiety about the large exodus of top executives from the company.

By Jonathan Berr Dec 19, 2011 1:53PM
Saudi investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is investing $300 million in Twitter, adding the microblogging site to his stable of high-profile investments, including Citigroup (C) and Apple (AAPL). 

Hard times may be coming, and chocolate makes people feel better.

By InvestorPlace Dec 19, 2011 1:15PM
 (© image100/Corbis)By Jon Markman, Editor, Trader's Advantage


The past three presidential election years have been very hard on risky assets, and two of them were completely brutal.


The most recent was 2008, and if you don't remember the global financial crisis that occurred that year, you were either too young, drunk or in jail. The one before that, 2004, ended with a 9% gain but was flat or down for three-quarters of the span. And the one before that, 2000, featured the bursting of the technology bubble, with the Nasdaq 100 collapsing by 40%.


So it's no wonder that I am looking at the upcoming election year, 2012, with a jaundiced eye.

 

Efforts to draw traffic by lowering prices hammered Best Buy's margins. But the selling has been overdone.

By Trefis Dec 19, 2011 12:23PM

Best Buy (BBY) reported a sharp decline of roughly 30% in its net profits this quarter compared to the same period last year. It missed consensus analysts' EPS estimate by approximately 8%, according to Thomson Reuters.

 

 More importantly, investors reacted negatively to the fall in gross margins sending the shares down 15% earlier last week. Best Buy competes with general retailers like Wal-Mart (WMT) and Costco (COST) as well as other specialty retailers like Radio Shack (RSH) and GameStop (GME).

 
Tags: BBYWMT

Oil majors operating in Iraq are looking to beef up security and ramp up production.

By Trefis Dec 19, 2011 12:08PM
Comstock/CorbisExxon Mobil (XOM) is readying for new challenges in Iraq as the U.S. troops complete their withdrawal from Iraq. Oil majors operating in Iraq are looking to beef up security by hiring additional personnel in case the security situation worsens. The companies are central to the local government's plans of ramping up production over the next few years. Exxon is also venturing into Kurdistan, in part driven by better security situation in the northern part of Iraq. British company British Petroleum (BP) had to temporarily halt production in southern Rumaila fields after the pipeline network in the area was hit by an explosion.

We have a $93 price estimate for Exxon Mobil, a 15% premium over its current market price.

 
Tags: bpXOM

Vertex was upgraded to 'top pick,' while Children's Place was downgraded to 'neutral.'

By MSN Money Partner Dec 19, 2011 11:55AM
Information provided by Theflyonthewall.com

Monday's noteworthy upgrades include:
  • BMC Software (BMC) upgraded to Neutral from Underweight at JP Morgan
  • Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) upgraded to Top Pick from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
  • Lazard (LAZ) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
  • DTE Energy (DTE) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
  • Torchmark (TMK) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse
 
Tags: CTRPGRPN

Potash might not glitter, but it may be worth some consideration for the commodities portion of your portfolio.

By The Fiscal Times Dec 19, 2011 11:18AM
PotashBy Suzanne McGee, The Fiscal Times

After rocketing $500 an ounce in the first eight months of the year, gold prices have tumbled as investors take an increasingly bearish view of commodities in general.

For most commodities, that skepticism is warranted. But gold's recent nosedive and predictions that it will fall to $1,400 an ounce in coming weeks, well below the September record of $1,923.70, has some market watchers raising their eyebrows. After all, isn't gold a different kind of commodity -- a sort of haven, an asset that serves as a refuge from uncertain economic times and volatile markets, just the kind that we have lived through in the second half of 2011? 

Anytime whispers of a European rescue boost markets, take the opportunity to sell out of economically sensitive stocks.

By Jim Cramer Dec 19, 2011 10:47AM

the streetWe just keep thinking that someone will come to the rescue. We keep thinking that everything "bad" that is happening is actually already "in" the market. We keep talking about opportunities from the selling of premium assets by Credit Agricole or Paribas. We keep thinking it is business as usual and we can just go buy anything that's down.


What's so amazing is that there is no evidence that this hopeful attitude is worth anything at all, except in sporadic moments when we get a takeover -- Novellus (NVLS) -- or we get a report that confounds the short sellers -- Federal Express (FDX) numbers being the best example last week.

 

Despite the debt crisis in Europe, this worthy agribiz stock deserves investor attention.

By Gene Marcial Dec 19, 2011 10:11AM

Corbis/SuperStockWith all the unshakable global worries over the financial crisis in Europe and the beleaguered euro, anything European may be the last thing investors would consider when looking for irresistible stock plays. But perhaps investors just have to look harder for undervalued opportunities with proven sturdy growth track records. Definitely, there are some to be found.

 

With a market capitalization of more than $26 billion and its stock shooting way up to record highs since 2006, Syngenta (SYT) is that kind of a company -– and it’s one of my favorite global stocks for various other reasons.

 
Tags: DDMONSYT

Production costs of just $258 an ounce leave fat profit margins for this gold miner.

By TheStockAdvisors Dec 19, 2011 9:43AM
Anthony Bradshaw/PhotographerBy Nathan Slaughter, Street Authority Market Advisor

There are many reasons why gold-loving investors might want to choose Goldcorp (GG) over bullion, not the least of which is the sharp disconnect between gold prices and gold stocks.

Indeed, gold has advanced more than 20% over the past year, while shares of many of the companies that produce and sell it have actually lost ground. And while Goldcorp has outperformed its peer group and delivered a modest 2% gain, that still doesn't sync with what's happening on the bottom line. 
Tags: GGgold

Time is running out for a solid rally. Be careful, and watch these key indicators over the next few weeks to see where the wind is blowing.

By MoneyShow.com Dec 17, 2011 11:35AM

Image: Ornament and money (© Tetra Images/Corbis)By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com


Friday’s final triple-witching day of 2011 was pretty quiet overall. Despite generally good news for the U.S. economy, stocks closed lower for the week. This makes me wonder whether the Grinch has already made his bet that stocks will finish the year on a weak note.


The short-term technical picture has deteriorated, and as I discuss later, it could turn negative early this coming week if stocks fail to mount a good rally. Analysis of the Volatility Index (also known as the "fear index") in the U.S. and in Europe suggests that even the most strident bears are not expecting the market to plunge going into the end of the year.

 

As the overall economy improves and the industrial sector continues to grow, coal production will also notch up.

By Trefis Dec 16, 2011 6:47PM
Image: Elevated view of freight cars with coal © Joseph Sohm-Visions of America/Photodisc/Getty ImagesThe global volatility in coal demand and supply has caused major coal producers, including Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) and Walter Energy, to reduce sales guidance for the second half this year.

Still, we believe that coal demand in the longer term will remain strong, particularly as infrastructure investments in Asia improve production levels. This should benefit railroad companies such as CSX (CSX), Norfolk Southern (NSC) and Union Pacific (UNP).

We expect the total carloads of coal shipped via railroads in the U.S. to increase to 8.6 million by the end of our forecast period, with improving domestic coal production levels and robust demand for coal exports. 
Tags: csxNSCUNP

With the pharmaceutical logistics market forecast to grow 7.6% per year, UPS will be well positioned to accommodate the expansion.

By Trefis Dec 16, 2011 6:34PM
Image: Pills (© Corbis)UPS (UPS) is poised to cash in on the expanding pharmaceutical logistics market as expiring patents on popular drugs like Lipitor push up demand for generic exports from Asia.

The transportation firm already provides freight services for German drug maker Merck (MRK), and in the past year has invested in five new pharmaceutical processing facilities, with further deals expected. That leaves UPS well positioned for traffic for the pharmaceutical logistics market, which is forecast to grow by 7.6% per year in the near-term. 
Tags: FDXMRKups

Netflix doesn't make for a very good acquisition target, with more than $3.5 billion in future content obligations.

By Trefis Dec 16, 2011 5:46PM
A report this week saying that Verizon (VZ) was mulling a bid for Netflix (NFLX) caused Netflix shares to briefly stop their downward march.

Why? Because a Verizon-Netflix combination would be a major force to reckon with for cable operators, such as Comcast (CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (TWC), who are already concerned about cord-cutters dropping subscriptions in favor of cheaper Web-based alternatives. However, questions remain about how Verizon would roll out Netflix without directly cannibalizing its own FiOS service, which brings higher user revenue. 

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[BRIEFING.COM] As expected, equity indices began the session with slim losses. The S&P 500 is lower by 0.2% with eight sectors showing early weakness. The energy sector (-0.7%) has slumped out of the gate, while industrials (-0.3%) and financials (-0.2%) also display relative weakness.

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