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Be wary of dire market forecasts

The most likely scenario is that the markets will begin to rise from here -- and that bounce is just beginning to take hold.

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The new managing director of the International Monetary Fund angers some officials by saying there is still a European debt crisis.

By Jim J. Jubak Aug 29, 2011 5:12PM
Jim JubakChristine Lagarde, the new managing director of the International Monetary Fund, didn’t make any friends Friday when, at the U.S. Fed’s conclave for the world’s central banks, she said that European banks have an urgent need to raise capital.

European bank regulators and finance ministers spent the weekend shooting back. About the kindest thing they’ve had to say is that Lagarde, the former French finance minister, is "confused," "misguided" and doesn’t understand the nature of the euro crisis.

Which means, of course, that you can be pretty sure that she precisely understands this crisis, that European banking officials know it and that they are really angry at her for daring to suggest that there’s still a debt crisis. Their strategy, you see, is to stop mentioning the problem, and hope that the financial markets will simply forget about it.
 

Large shares are moving in tandem, which means investors might have to change their strategies.

By Kim Peterson Aug 29, 2011 3:58PM
Picking stocks has always been tough, but lately it's almost a fool's errand.

The Wall Street Journal calls it a "dead art" because global economic concerns have overshadowed the differences among companies. Investors have so much on their plates that they don't have time to discern whether one stock is better than another.

The result? Stocks are moving up and down together. In fact, they're showing shockingly high levels of correlation, which is the way they move in relation to each other. 

Travelzoo leads the pack with a gain of more than 10% at midday.

By Kim Peterson Aug 29, 2011 2:52PM
Updated 6 p.m. ET 

Travelzoo (TZOO) is starting to recover from a month-long beating that took shares down more than 60%.

The stock closed up 10% to $36.93 Monday in a surge that carried along other online travel companies as well. HomeAway (AWAY) also saw a 10% gain, and Expedia (EXPE) closed up 4%.

No one seems to be sure why the sector is seeing renewed interest Monday. Perhaps all the Labor Day travel deals after Hurricane Irene is one culprit. Or maybe it's because Travelzoo has been mentioned as a good acquisition target for a rival like Expedia. 
Tags: travel

The damage from the hurricane wasn't as bad as initially feared, and that gave insurers and reinsurers a boost Monday.

By Kim Peterson Aug 29, 2011 2:22PM
Updated 6 p.m. ET

Insurance companies are breathing a sigh of relief Monday after the damage from Hurricane Irene turned out to be less than initially feared.

Allstate (ALL) closed up 8.5% to $26.30. Hartford Financial Services (HIG) soared nearly 13% to $19.42. One exchange-traded fund that tracks insurance stocks, SPDR KBW Insurance (KIE), rose nearly 6%.
 

This booming emerging market remains a red-hot opportunity for investors.

By InvestorPlace Aug 29, 2011 12:49PM

By Jeff Reeves, Editor, InvestorPlace.com


In July, some soccer fans were surprised as star footballer Carlos Tevez was debating a departure from England's Premier League to take up a spot on the roster of a team based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Why would a top player even think of abandoning the bright lights of Europe’s soccer scene for a second-tier market in Latin America?


However, this is not a new trend. As The Financial Times reported a few weeks ago, soccer salaries in Brazil have been soaring as the pay scale in Europe has flatlined. If this trend keeps up, Europe might become the second-tier market before long.


Why should you care if you are one of the tens of millions of Americans who couldn’t care less about soccer? Because this trend says a lot about Brazil, its middle class and the region’s economy in general - especially as an investment opportunity.

 

Up-and-coming professional investors such as Donald Yacktman and Thomas Forester are turning in heroic performances despite challenging market conditions.

By TheStreet Staff Aug 29, 2011 11:54AM

By Frank Byrt, TheStreet

 

Investors looking for direction in the stock market from star fund managers of the past decade, such as Bill Miller, Ken Heebner and Bruce Berkowitz, have realized they're sometimes as confused as the rest of us are.

 

Unprecedented events such as the near-default of U.S. government bonds, a painful European debt crisis that seems to have no end and natural disasters abroad and at home have come to a head, pummeling almost everyone's portfolio, save for the extraordinary. Those include Warren Buffett (a sweetheart deal brokered with Bank of America (BAC) last week that will give him $300 million a year in special dividends), Carl Icahn (a reported $2 billion windfall by betting against U.S. stocks this month) and John Thaler (his JAT Capital Management hedge fund is among the best performers in the world this year, up more than 30%).

 

The benchmark S&P 500 Index ($INX) of U.S. stocks has fallen 6.6% this year, sending mutual fund investors for the exits -- or at least to the relative safety of bond funds as they see returns suffer on once high-flying funds. But there are stock-fund managers building reputations as they assemble wealth for clients. They may not be stars, but they soon may be if their hot hands continue.

 

Here's a preview of Ciena Corp in advance of Thursday's earnings report

By Jamie Dlugosch Aug 29, 2011 11:28AM

There is a tremendous amount of noise in the market that can influence stock price. Ultimately, the value of a stock is based on the present value of future profits.

 

When a company reports earnings results, market participants receive a key piece of information that can be used to determine the price of a stock. For a brief moment in time after a company releases its operating performance, the market will adjust pricing based on how the numbers match up against current expectations.

 

In many cases stocks of companies reporting results will move significantly higher or lower.

 

Understanding how investors use earnings against Wall Street estimates creates a profitable trading opportunity. Using a few key variables combined with understanding how the market will react to new information can guide you how to trade a stock in advance of the news being reported.

 

Use the Earnings Predictor to help you identify winning trades. On Thursday Ciena Corp. reports earnings for the quarter ending July 31, 2011.

 

ETF investors who plan to follow the developments at Apple should have their sights set on the PowerShares QQQ fund.

By TheStreet Staff Aug 29, 2011 11:25AM

By Don Dion, TheStreet

 

Here are five exchange-traded funds to watch this week.

 

1.    PowerShares QQQ (QQQ)

 

Steve Jobs' decision to step down from his CEO post at Apple (AAPL) sent shockwaves across the markets last week. Interestingly, the initial impact Jobs' exit has had on Apple's stock price has been largely negligible. On Thursday, immediately following the news, shares of AAPL closed down less than 1%.

 

Today begins Apple's first full week in the post-Jobs era. Looking ahead it will be interesting to see how newly-appointed CEO, Tim Cook handles the captain chair. This is not the first time Cook has been placed in charge, however. On the contrary, as I pointed out late last week, Jobs had turned to the former COO on a number of occasions over the past few years.

 

Almost no mutual fund managers have been able to protect Americans from losses in the stock market during this year's volatile trading.

By TheStreet Staff Aug 29, 2011 10:55AM

By Frank Byrt, TheStreetTheStreet

 

The mutual fund industry this year has been overrun by a stampede out of U.S. stocks and into safer alternatives, namely large-company and bond funds, much as in 2008 when the financial industry needed a bailout to survive.

 

Investors pulled $14.6 billion from U.S. equity mutual funds and put $102 billion into taxable bond funds through the end of July, said Ryan Leggio, a mutual fund analyst at Morningstar. The S&P 500 ($INX) is down 6.6% so far in 2011 after two years of gains and a slight rebound last week. The benchmark for American equities lost 16% of its value between July 22 and Aug. 19, the most in four weeks since March 2009, which turned out to be the bottom of the last stock-market crash.

 

"It's been a flight to bonds and away from equities," Leggio said.

 

Yes, Berkshire bailed out Bank of America last week, but not every ugly company deserves to be saved.

By InvestorPlace Aug 29, 2011 8:43AM

Do you think Warren Buffett was a Lone Ranger fan? It's likely, considering he rode that white horse to the rescue. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) announced $5 billion investment in Bank of America puts him back in the role of hero last week. For the second time since the financial collapse of 2008, Buffett is bringing his substantial war chest of capital to the financial services industry under the auspices of providing confidence and support to the U.S. economy.


But don't think Buffett is out to save every ugly company out there. Here are 3 picks Warren Buffett wouldn't touch at ANY price.

 

Hurricane Irene looks tough enough, but the barrage of economic news next week could be even more of a problem for the market, given the trend of recent reports.

By MoneyShow.com Aug 26, 2011 9:04PM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

The equity markets were again buffeted by cross-currents last week, but did manage to close higher overall. Even though there was plenty of volatility, the ranges have actually narrowed since the crazy days in early August.


The markets' strength early in the week was in spite of more Eurozone concerns, as spreads widened on the Spanish and Italian credit-default swaps, and Greek bonds hit a new high in yield.


Even the US financial sector was under pressure, as rumors swirled about Bank of America (BAC). Even though it hit a low of $6.01 on Tuesday, the S&P 500 managed a 3.3% gain for the day.


The short-term technical picture improved further Wednesday, suggesting the S&P 500 could again move to the upper boundaries of its trading range. The rally was quashed Thursday in spite of Warren Buffett's $5 billion vote of confidence in Bank of America.

 

Bears have crushed several retail stocks - here is a trading story of a diamond in the rough

By Jamie Dlugosch Aug 26, 2011 5:45PM

The market is clearly at a tipping point. With stocks in correction mode, investors are clearly concerned about a double dip recession.  Wall Street economists have been cutting estimates for GDP growth over the last two months.

 

At the same time Wall Street analysts, those responsible for making forecasts of corporate profits have not yet adjusted downward. That disconnect creates plenty of opportunity to trade companies that are releasing earnings results. The real numbers will be given greater weight than Wall Street expectations.

 

In the last two weeks I have noticed a change in tone from those companies releasing result. While most companies are still beating analyst estimates the number of misses is on the rise. More importantly guidance for the future is noticeably weaker. There are stocks Warren Buffett will buy and stocks Buffett would not touch.

 

The price of oil has dropped already this summer, and could go even lower if Libya can restore significant production.

By Jim J. Jubak Aug 26, 2011 4:16PM
Jim JubakThe timing of the collapse of Moammar Gadhafi's rule in Libya couldn’t be much better -- for the global economy.

Projections that the rebels, whenever they can get a government together, will be able to restore at least some of Libya’s pre-civil war oil production have helped push oil prices lower. And that will cut costs for consumers and companies, and give economies a boost just when they need it.

In the U.S., for example, every dollar not spent on gasoline or other oil products is one more dollar that families have
to spend on necessities such as groceries and clothing, as well as discretionary items such as eating out or going on
vacation, and that companies have to invest in employees or machinery -- or to simply send to the bottom line.
 
Tags: oil

Wal-Mart, Home Depot and other big-box retailers go to great lengths to prepare for natural disasters.

By Kim Peterson Aug 26, 2011 2:30PM
Who prepares for hurricanes better than just about anyone? Wal-Mart (WMT) and Home Depot (HD).

Those big-box retailers have been in hurricane-anticipation mode for nearly a week, NPR reports. They're an important stop for worried residents seeking plywood, duct tape, bottled water and batteries.

And the last thing they want is empty shelves. 

The company's newest intern is a Brown University student who told the world how to dismantle the smartphone's security restrictions.

By Kim Peterson Aug 26, 2011 2:14PM
How do you land a coveted internship at Apple (AAPL)? Tell the world how to hack the iPhone.

Nicholas Allegra, 19, says he will start an internship at Apple in September. That's a bit of a surprise, considering that the Brown University student created the JailbreakMe code that lets people pull off the security restrictions Apple built into the iPhone.

And Allegra made it very easy to do. In fact, iPhone users just had to visit jailbreakme.com to automatically hack the device, opening up the phone to apps that were not authorized by Apple. Allegra was bold and brash and probably created some large headaches for a company that likes to keep tight control on all aspects of its products. 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market ended the holiday-shortened week on a mixed note as the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.1%, while the S&P 500 added 0.1% with seven sectors posting gains.

Equity indices faced an uphill climb from the opening bell after disappointing quarterly results from Google (GOOG 536.10, -20.44) and IBM (IBM 190.04, -6.36) weighed on the early sentiment. Google reported earnings $0.15 below the Capital IQ consensus estimate on revenue of $15.42 ... More


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