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As the market wades through what many people hope is a sixth bull year, some have grown nervous about how long the run can go.

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The release of 60 million barrels from reserves is pushing crude oil prices down. Will that mean less pain at the pump?

By Kim Peterson Jun 23, 2011 1:03PM
The U.S. led the push Thursday to release 60 million barrels of crude reserves from stockpiles, replacing some of the losses that resulted when Libya went offline.

The move had an immediate impact on oil prices, as benchmark crude in the U.S. dropped $5 a barrel to $90. And in the futures markets, gasoline fell 14 cents a gallon.

So does that translate into cheaper gas? Unfortunately, that's a little iffy.

Gas prices have already been tumbling, and no one's sure how much more they can drop. Today's nationwide average for a gallon of regular is $3.61, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report. That's down from $3.69 a week ago and $3.83 a month ago. 
Tags: oilopec

It's time for the Russell index rebalancing act.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Jun 23, 2011 11:42AM

By Dan Caplinger

 

A lot of investors are going to be surprised by the huge spikes in volume that many stocks are going to see near the close this Friday. Some will wonder whether it's another sign of market manipulation. But don't worry: It's all perfectly normal, although it does give you an opportunity to get in on some interesting stocks before the investing masses do.

 

Playing index games one more time
Every June, Russell Investments, which is the company behind the well-known small-cap benchmark Russell 2000 index, changes its lists of component stocks for several of its indexes. Inevitably, the index reconstitution leads to some up-and-coming companies making it into the benchmarks, replacing those companies that no longer qualify for inclusion.

 

Given that this happens every year, you'd think that everyone would treat it as a non-event. But with nearly $4 trillion of institutional investments tied to Russell's indexes, there's a ton of money at stake -- and with the many index funds and other money managers that have to follow Russell's moves, you can expect to see substantial volatility as the changes become final on June 24.

 

Author JK Rowling announces that the e-books will be sold exclusively through her Pottermore website.

By Kim Peterson Jun 23, 2011 11:37AM
Pottermore has been revealed, and the secret is a bit of a letdown.

J.K. Rowling announced Thursday that her Harry Potter books will be available as audio downloads and digital e-books in October. The mysterious Pottermore website, which had teased Harry Potter fans for days, will be the only place to buy them.

The announcement falls a little flat for fans who had expected breakthrough news, perhaps maybe an online Harry Potter role-playing game. But Pottermore will have some new material: Rowling has reportedly written 18,000 words for the site, which will also feature games, social networking and an online store. 

Here are five funds for investors who are looking for yield in a shaky market.

By TheStreet Staff Jun 23, 2011 11:29AM

By Don Dion, TheStreet

 

Although the U.S. markets have enjoyed some small doses of strength over the course of the week, caution remains warranted as we look ahead.

 

With Greece's debt woes still dominating headlines and weighing on sentiment, the need for protection is essential. There are a number of ways investors can use ETFs in order to both defend against the market's current shakiness and prepare for strength on the horizon.

 

Dividend-paying equities and other income-oriented investing options, for instance, may appeal to investors looking to construct such an all-weather portfolio. Here are five ETF options investors may want to consider when attempting to target yield.

 

Technology and semiconductors have been lagging the S&P 500, and even strong earnings aren’t likely to reverse the negative outlook.

By MoneyShow.com Jun 23, 2011 11:13AM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

It has been a rough few weeks for the semiconductor stocks as the Semiconductor HOLDRs Trust (SMH) is down 13% from the early-May highs. This tech industry group has seen several wide swings so far in 2011.

The decline in the semiconductors has been greater than that of the S&P technology sector, which through last week’s lows was down 10% from the early-May highs. During the same period, the S&P 500 was down just over 8%.

The tech earnings so far in 2011 have been stronger than most expected, but the technology sector has continued to lag the overall market. Therefore, as we enter a new earnings season, it will be important to see if the relative performance of the tech sector can improve.
 

These technology bosses may not last the year in their current roles, thanks to slumping stocks and stunted turnaround strategies.

By TheStreet Staff Jun 23, 2011 10:49AM

By Scott Moritz, TheStreet

 

Falling stocks, stalled turnaround strategies and soured shareholder sentiments have helped shine a severe light on several tech CEOs recently.

 

Salty Yahoo (YHOO) chief Carol Bartz has long lost her gruff charm, and she may not be able to hang on to her job much longer if new reports stating that the company is searching for her replacement are true.

 

It's been a tough run for Bartz, who was hired more than two years ago to bring order and direction to the disarray that Yahoo had fallen into.

 

But Bartz isn't alone. Other tech titans have been called out for failing to meet market challenges or, in some cases, driving business into the ditch.

 

Bernanke simply kicked the can down the road. With his Fed-speak behind us, it's time to focus again on individual stocks, leaving others to pontificate on the big picture.

By Jim Cramer Jun 23, 2011 8:50AM

the streetthe streetWhat did people want from Ben Bernanke? Did they want him to say, "I am an idiot and I can't get the job done, so go find someone else?" Did they want him to tell us that the Greek worries are ridiculous and we shouldn't be fearful of a contagion? Did we want him to say we are on the eve of destruction?

 

No, I know what they wanted him to do. They wanted him to wave a magic wand that would force Congress and the president to stop profligate spending, including war spending, cut back entitlements, issue long-term U.S. government debt to take advantage of the low long-term rates and stave off a liquidity event, solve the pension problems, raise age limits for Social Security, and speed up the stalled housing foreclosure process and buy 2 million vacant homes to torch them.

 

Big wish list.

 

In truth, it would have been better if Bernanke had called out the bad guys rather than saying that he's given all he's got, like some sort of Scotty trying to save the Enterprise from being sucked into a black hole.

 

The company is seeing rising demand for seeds and pesticides, which could help it grab market share from rivals.

By Jim J. Jubak Jun 22, 2011 4:26PM
Jim JubakThe hits just keep on coming in the agricultural sector.

Just days after fertilizer maker Agrium (AGU) raised its guidance for the first half of 2011, on better than expected prices and demand, Syngenta (SYT) said yesterday that rising demand for seeds and pesticides would help it double revenue from its main seed and crop-protection products to $17 billion in 2015, from $8.4 billion in 2010.

Syngenta’s projected 102% growth in that period would exceed the forecast for the sector as a whole. Research company MarketsandMarkets forecasts that the global agricultural-chemical market will grow to $223 billion in 2015, from $134 billion in 2010.

That’s a rather heady 66% growth rate, but it lags Syngenta’s figures because the company is forecasting that it will pick up market share from competitors in the sector over that period.
 

If fears continue to build, investors will want to unload these shares.

By TheStreet Staff Jun 22, 2011 4:08PM

more stock picks and investing ideas from stockpickrImage: Arrow Down (© Image Source/SuperStock)By Jamie Dlugosch, Stockpickr

 

Pastor Harold Camping predicted the world would end this year on May 21. The much-publicized end of days failed to materialize. I can't say I was surprised, but it was nonetheless a relief.

 

It is human nature to be fearful. For some reason, we are all wired with some degree of skepticism about the future. Perhaps it's due to our awareness of the ultimate inevitability of our demise. Over the past six weeks, the amount of skepticism and fear in the stock market has risen.

 

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), also known as the "fear index," is up 23% since the end of April. Typically such spikes are accompanied by sharp declines in the stock market. Indeed, the S&P 500 ($INX) is down about 5% over the same period. As painful as it is to lose 5%, the losses could be a lot worse.

 

With the VIX currently at 18.21, there is a lot more fear to be had in the market. When stocks bottomed in March 2009, the VIX peaked at 53.25, more than double where we are today. But should fear in the current market continue to build, here are five names I would consider liquidating.

 

Still in a fragile recovery, the doughnut chain looks to yogurt, juices and specialty coffees to sustain momentum.

By Kim Peterson Jun 22, 2011 3:21PM
Krispy Kreme (KKD), a name you can hardly speak without salivating, is having a great year. Shares are at $9 -- double what they were a year ago. Profit and sales are on fire.

So in order to keep momentum going, the company is ... getting healthier?

Chief executive James Morgan wants to add oatmeal, yogurt and fruit juice to the menu, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. He's also looking at specialty coffee, starting with custom blends in September and espressos and lattes over 18 months.

Homer Simpson would be disappointed, and I admit I am as well. 

The tech giant could partner with a television maker to 'blow Netflix and all those other guys away.'

By Kim Peterson Jun 22, 2011 1:55PM
A new report says Apple (AAPL) may enter the television business later this year. And no, this isn't another version of the Apple TV accessory the company has struggled with.

We're talking full-on TV sets. The DailyTech site says it has interviewed a former company executive about Apple's plans to bundle Apple TV and iTunes inside television sets. The idea, the executive said, is to "blow Netflix (NFLX) and all those other guys away."

Apple would get the TVs from a major supplier, the source said, but put its own brand on them. "You'll go into an Apple retail store and be able to walk out with a TV," the source said. "It's perfect." The TVs could come out this year or next. 

Nearly 15,000 readers rate the carriers they love and hate.

By Kim Peterson Jun 22, 2011 1:24PM
Airline fees are really starting to get on passengers' nerves.

That's the takeaway from the latest airline survey from Consumer Reports. Nearly 15,000 readers rated the top airlines, and the one that charged significantly fewer fees was the strong winner.

Southwest (LUV) topped the list, with a rating of 87, getting top marks for easy check-in, good service, clean cabins and baggage handling. Southwest might have nailed that last category because it's the only airline that lets you check two bags with no extra charges, Consumer Reports says. Additional bags cost $50 each.

You can hear more about Consumer Reports' survey in the following video.

Post continues below: 

Many don’t trust the market’s latest rally, but technical indicators suggest that even when this rally stalls, the market may be well supported for a new run to the prior highs.

By MoneyShow.com Jun 22, 2011 12:58PM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

There were some signs after last Friday’s close that the market was close to a short-term low (see “Is the Worst of the Selling Over?”). 

Several of the major averages formed weekly dojis last week, which is a technical formation that indicates indecision. That makes this week’s close even more important.

The strong action early this week is being treated with distrust, which is not surprising considering bearish sentiment has reached rather high levels. 

The put/call ratio reached its highest reading since November 2008. The high level of put purchases is frequently used as a contrary indicator.

I have been noting the negative sentiment of the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) members for a few weeks, and the second chart shows that the percentage of bulls minus bears peaked in early 2011. It is now down to levels last seen during the summer of 2010. Also, a recent survey by Merrill Lynch reflects very high cash levels, suggesting a high level of bearishness.

So with the public either distrustful or afraid of the stock market, and market professionals generally looking for a rally failure, what can we expect now?
 
Tags: etf

Fears of government spending cutbacks have kept many aerospace and defense stocks trading at bargain prices.

By John Reese Jun 22, 2011 12:39PM

Image: Guided Missile Destroyer (© The Stocktrek )With talk of deficits, debt ceilings and potential budget cuts dominating the U.S. political landscape in recent weeks, a good deal of fear and uncertainty have been swirling around stocks of companies that could be impacted if the government starts slashing its budget.

 

One such area is aerospace and defense firms. The defense budget has come under great scrutiny lately as Congress tries to claw away at the $1.4 trillion U.S. budget deficit. That -- along with investors' increased appetite for riskier stocks amid the Federal Reserve's money-printing binge -- has helped keep the shares of many A&D companies trading on the cheap.


Last week, however, the House Appropriations Committee passed a defense budget that cut President Obama's spending request less than some had feared, good news for defense-related companies.

 

Mortgage woes weigh on the company, but the stock may be too cheap to resist.

By TheStreet Staff Jun 22, 2011 11:59AM

By Dan Freed, TheStreet

 

Bank of America (BAC) looks ugly, yes, but when do its shares become too cheap to pass up?

 

That's the question analysts and investors have been asking since October, when it finally sank in that housing-related legal challenges were likely to cost tens of billions of dollars and that Bank of America appeared to be on the hook for most of it as a result of its acquisition of Countrywide Financial in 2008.

 

Countrywide was one of the most aggressive actors out there when it came to making home loans that were unlikely to be repaid. The lender appears to have ramped up its mortgage operation just as the housing market was at its frothiest.

 

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[BRIEFING.COM]

  • June gold rose for the first time in four sessions as economic data showed that new home sales declined 14.5% in March from an upwardly revised 449K (from 440K) in Feb to 384K. The Briefing.com consensus expected home sales to increase to 455K. The yellow metal brushed a session high of $1287.70 per ounce in early morning action and settled with a 0.3% gain at $1284.80 per ounce.
  • May silver also traded in positive territory today, climbing as high as $19.49 per ... More


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