How long can the S&P 500 keep 2,000?
How long can the S&P keep 2,000?

The Federal Reserve and Congressional politics threaten to rain on the market party.

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

A sector specialist highlights his scale-in buying strategy and his favorite gold and silver picks.

By TheStockAdvisors Oct 13, 2011 9:30AM
By Curtis Hesler, The Professional Timing Service

The recent pullback in gold has been an opportunity to accumulate precious metals positions.

However, the window on low-risk, longer-term precious metal investing is going to close. The time to accumulate is now. Here's a look at some of our favorite positions. 
Tags: gold

Despite TARP's success in the US, people still despise it as a bailout. No wonder European politicians aren't eager to support something similar.

By Jim Cramer Oct 13, 2011 9:27AM

the street"Why don't they just do TARP over there, for heaven's sake?"

 

You keep hearing that. I keep hearing that. It shows you how memory can play tricks on you.

 

No one in this country wanted TARP -- not the proposers, not Congress, not bankers, not investors. We didn't even know what it was going to do at first. The thought was maybe the money would be used to create a two-way market in the debt that was clogging the system. Turns out much of it was not debt but synthetic positions that weren't worth anything and couldn't trade.

 

We thought it might shore up balance sheets. But most banks said they didn't need to have their balance sheets shored up.

 

The company missed analyst estimates in its recent quarter, and searching the numbers could give signals about the broader economy.

By Jim J. Jubak Oct 12, 2011 9:27PM
As indicators go, this one is sure tough to read. It’s not clear exactly what Alcoa's (AA) quarterly earnings say about the global economy -- except that it’s tough out there.

Tuesday, Alcoa announced third-quarter earnings of 15 cents a share. That was short of the Wall Street consensus forecast of 23 cents a share... but with so many special items, it's not clear to me exactly how short of estimates earnings were.

After taking out the positive items (such as an income tax benefit) and the negative (including flood damage), it looks like Alcoa’s adjusted earnings of $164 million were short of Wall Street estimates of $172 million.
 
Tags: AA

The food and beverage giant beats third quarter expectations. Should you consider it for your portfolio?

By Benzinga Oct 12, 2011 5:45PM

By Jonathan Chen, Benzinga Staff Writer


PepsiCo(PEP) popped past analyst estimates in its third-quarter earnings report Wednesday morning, and shares closed up nearly 3% to $62.70.


The Purchase, N.Y., company reported earnings of $1.31 per share, excluding acquisition charges and other one-time items, on $17.6 billion in revenue. Wall Street had been expecting $1.30 per share on $17.19 billion in revenue. Pepsi delivered some good news on both the top and bottom lines -- understandably important for a company in this environment.

 

Even though consumer response has been tepid to electric cars, GM is pushing ahead with new models.

By Kim Peterson Oct 12, 2011 4:07PM
General Motors (GM) said Wednesday it will make its first all-electric car, appropriately named the Spark.

The minicar is set to go on sale in 2013, and will be a direct competitor to the Nissan Leaf. Shares of GM rose more than 4% in afternoon trading to $23.41. Shares of A123 Systems (AONE), which will make the lithium-ion battery for the Spark, rose more than 25% to $4.19. 

As risky assets blast higher on renewed confidence, pessimists betting on a new bear market are caught out.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Oct 12, 2011 3:38PM

Stocks continued their breakout Wednesday as the eurozone moved closer toward a definitive resolution of its debt crisis, the Q3 earnings seasons heated up, and investors were reminded that the Federal Reserve stands ready to unleash additional monetary stimulus if needed.

 

European Commission president Barroso unveiled a multi-step plan that will act as a road map to backstop the continent's banks and move toward a Greek debt restructuring. Also, Slovakia, the last of the 17 eurozone countries to approve a strengthening of the group's bailout fund, is moving closer to ratification.

 

The company says same-store numbers are on the mend after 9 straight quarters of decline.

By Kim Peterson Oct 12, 2011 3:07PM
Wal-Mart (WMT) executives can breathe a sigh of relief. U.S. sales are finally back on track after nine straight quarters of decline.

At the company's annual analyst meeting Wednesday, executives said same-store sales at U.S. stores have been rising for the past three months. Same-store sales make up about 98% of Wal-Mart's total U.S. sales.

The improvement is enough that Wal-Mart will likely show positive U.S. growth when it reports quarterly earnings next month. 
Tags: TGTWMT

The risk-reward ratio is not lining up favorably for this trio.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Oct 12, 2011 2:53PM
By Sean Williams

 

Get out your pom-poms, everyone, because earnings season officially kicked off last night with a profit warning from Alcoa (AA). While that’s not exactly the way investors would have liked earnings season to kick off, the vast majority of S&P 500 companies have met or beaten analyst expectations over the past few quarters.

 

However -- take a deep breath -- earnings estimates are falling globally. Between debt-contagion fears in Greece and a slowdown in U.S. government spending, profit projections are dropping, and investors are finally scrutinizing company earnings as they should have been doing in the first place. The recipe for failure is there this quarter, more so than in any quarter in recent history, so it pays to take note of companies which are on shaky ground to start with.

 

The ice cream company throws its support behind Occupy Wall Street. Is a new flavor on the way?

By Kim Peterson Oct 12, 2011 2:26PM
Ben & Jerry's has come out in support of Occupy Wall Street and treated hundreds of protesters to free ice cream this week.

Most of the protesters seemed to have no problem with the fact that Ben & Jerry's is owned by Unilever (UN), a global conglomerate that reportedly spent $750,000 on congressional lobbying last year. "It's hard to say no to free ice cream," said one 26-year-old protester from Ireland, according to DailyFinance.

The Ben & Jerry's board issued a statement expressing admiration for the Wall Street protesters. "We realize that Occupy Wall Street is calling for systemic change," the statement said. "We support this call to action and are honored to join you in this call to take back our nation and democracy." 

At least one ETF is now a good deal for long-term investors.

By TheStockAdvisors Oct 12, 2011 2:21PM
Image: Nuts and Bolts © Andrew Bret Wallis/Photodisc/Getty ImagesBy Mark Salzinger, The Investor's ETF Report

We are adding the out-of-favor Market Vectors Steel ETF (SLX) to our Contrarian Portfolio.

Even if we see S&P earnings fall 10%, 20% or even 30% from recent levels, I suspect that investors who scoop up shares now of excellent stock ETFs -- such as SLX -- will be glad they did several years from now.

Slowing economic growth has tempered expectations for steelmakers, and their prices were savaged in early August 2011, losing nearly 15%. 

Forget about this summer's 'commodity crumble.' These majors will deliver strong third-quarter earnings.

By TheStreet Staff Oct 12, 2011 1:46PM

Image: Oil Well Pumpjack © Roger Milley/Vetta/Getty ImagesBy Dan Dicker, TheStreetTheStreet

 

The biggest oil companies, such as Chevron (CVX), Exxon Mobil (XOM) and ConocoPhillips (COP), have tremendous complexity in operations and ultimately in profitability.

 

There are exploration and production divisions, enormous segments dealing with transport and refining, and separate segments for natural gas, liquids and chemicals.

 

As complex as these companies are, the price of a barrel of crude is still the most important input to their earnings results and therefore has the biggest impact on their stock prices. It is no wonder that these mega-cap oil companies' share prices have historically followed the price of the oil they generate.

 

A service issue that began Monday has affected tens of millions of users, causing another headache for Research In Motion.

By Kim Peterson Oct 12, 2011 1:20PM
Updated 4:15 p.m. ET

BlackBerry users are running out of patience as a global service outage heads into its third day. The problem has spread to the U.S. and Canada, with users reporting delays, slow e-mail and one-way conversations.

Analysts estimate that about half of BlackBerry's 70 million subscribers outside North America have been affected, Reuters reports. It's unclear how many in North America were affected Wednesday.

Hollywood was "paralyzed in its tracks" Wednesday, reported entertainment site TheWrap. Hollywood actors and executives have long favored the BlackBerry over other smartphones, the site reports. 
Tags: AAPL

Private education has its problems. Is it finally time to sell this industry?

By Benzinga Oct 12, 2011 12:05PM

Image: Graduation cap (© Stephen Wisbauer/Getty Images)By Abe Raymond, Benzinga


For-profit institutions are notorious for being unable to place alumni into the work force. While their businesses grow, their reputations sink.


It is time to note the discrepancy: People who attended traditional schools dislike for-profits, but those without traditional options seem to embrace the for-profit route despite knowing the statistics. Let's examine this problematic industry and focus on one of its worst performers in 2011: Capella Education (CPLA).

 
Tags: Benzinga

This fund adjusts its exposure to twists and turns.

By TheStreet Staff Oct 12, 2011 12:00PM

By Don Dion, TheStreetTheStreet

 

Once considered a darling among investors, the commodities market has become noticeably volatile in recent weeks as looming macroeconomic headwinds have weighed heavily on investor confidence.

 

Growth-correlated resources have not been the only commodities to take hits, however. On the contrary, even gold recently came under pressure. The iShares Gold Trust (IAU) is off nearly 10% over the past month.

 

As resource prices continue to struggle to find stability, it will be tempting to make alterations with every fluctuation. Long-term investors, however, will need to exercise patience and flexibility in order to come out unscathed. For some, the time and effort needed to construct and maintain a strong portfolio may prove to be too daunting.

 

Luckily for those who prefer a hands-off approach, there are several options.

 
Tags: cmeetf

Despite all the headwinds, the bank is still a good choice for long-term investors.

By TheStreet Staff Oct 12, 2011 11:26AM

By Philip van Doorn, TheStreetTheStreet

 

The dismal year-to-date performance of JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) stock underscores why you should invest in the bank now.

 

In a few years, you may be looking back at the killing you missed on JPMorgan Chase. The shares are bargain-priced right here, and you can add on the dips.

 

Shares of the nation's second-largest bank by total assets -- running a close second to Bank of America (BAC) as of June 30 -- closed at $32.30 Tuesday for a 22% year-to-date decline. That compared with a 53% decline for shares of Bank of America, while Citigroup (C) was down 44% to $24.49 and Wells Fargo (WFC) was down 15% to $26.13. The benchmark KBW Bank Index was down 28% year to date, closing Tuesday at 37.45.

 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The S&P 500 trades lower by 0.1% with one hour remaining in today's forgettable session.

Today's economic data was limited to the weekly MBA Mortgage Index (+2.8%), but tomorrow will be a bit more busy, featuring the second estimate of Q2 GDP (Briefing.com consensus 2.0%), the Pending Home Sales report for July (consensus 0.5%), and weekly initial claims (consensus 302K).

Elsewhere, Treasuries are on their highs with the 10-yr yield down four basis points at ... More


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