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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Funds tracking the dollar, Italy, oil, agriculture and autos will be in the spotlight.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
Here are five exchange-traded funds to watch this week.
The U.S. dollar received some welcome strength during the second half of last week as jittery market action drove investors to safety. Further aiding the greenback's ascension were comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who continued to write off the likelihood of additional quantitative easing.
QE2 is scheduled to end on June 30. The anticipation leading up to that date, combined with general market turmoil, could result in some interesting action from dollar-tracking UUP in the days ahead.
Earnings season is coming, and underlying positives bode well for stocks.
So close and yet so far, stocks got off to a nice start last week but ran into the wall of worry. By the end of the week, early gains disappeared as the S&P 500 index closed down fractionally for the period.
That puts us back on the losing side of the ledger after a one-week reprieve. The only positive is that technical lows on the S&P 500 index have held. A breech could trigger a complete washout turning a small correction into something quite worse.
In the absence of substantive news, bears are winning the speculative battle. It is far easier to be negative than positive in the current environment.
Thankfully, the second quarter ends this week. That means earnings season is near. My prediction is that it will be strong corporate profits that will turn things in the market.
The ETF to buy this week in advance of what should be a strong rally is SPDR S&P Homebuilders (XHB).
The amusement park operator will see its share price halved and could take investors on a roller-coaster ride.
By Jeff Reeves, Editor of InvestorPlace.com
Amusement park giant Six Flags Entertainment (SIX) has seen its stock price climb steadily over the past year, much like the steep hills its roller coasters climb right out of the station.
Monday, that stock price is going to lurch downward like the first gut-wrenching descent of that coaster as Six Flags' stock splits in two.
Sounds scary for investors and thrill-ride fans alike, right? Well, relax. In reality, this white-knuckle ride doesn't change a thing and may actually be profitable for savvy traders who know what to do.
This market seems to believe that growth is impossible without inflation. It's lying.
It happened in passing. Someone blithely mentioned it on some show that went in one ear and out the other. It was a throwaway. The line? "Sure, so what if inflation has peaked?"
I wanted to laugh because it shows you how out of control this moment is versus what we should be thinking, how wrong this market may be on a daily basis compared with the pathetic way that it trades. Can a market, I ask myself, be disingenuous? Can markets be mendacious?
Because it sure seems that this one is.
Somewhere along the line we forgot what the business cycle is and how it affects stocks. In 2008, we had a phony multi-month rally based on the increase in commodity prices. Underneath, we all knew that aside from Freeport (FCX) and National Oilwell Varco (NOV), the two big headliners of that rally, the market was as sick as a dog, with whole segments long-since faltered.
The markets have largely shrugged off damaging world events until recently. Now the possibility of another downturn is too stark to ignore.
First, he looks at the combination of weird slams to the global economy this year. The earthquake in Japan disrupted some of the world's supply chains. The turmoil in the Middle East has contributed to the runup in oil prices and the corresponding spike in gasoline prices (both of which, thankfully, have come down).
Add to that the financial instability in Greece, Ireland and Portugal. And don't forget the rising prices for food and commodities, stoking concerns about high inflation.
The young woman who designed the iconic image received a $35 check for her work. Nike made up for that later.
"I don't love it," chairman Phil Knight said at the time, according to The Oregonian, "but maybe it will grow on me."
And it did. The curvy, uplifting swoosh logo became Nike's signature mark. The image is now so powerful that it's instantly recognized around the world as the symbol of the athletic gear company.
These funds allow broad investment at a level of risk appropriate to each investor.
By Roger Nusbaum, TheStreet
For the last few months, most of my articles for TheStreet have mentioned the narrow industry ETFs like the Global X Fishing Industry (FISN) or the small-cap country funds like the Market Vectors Small Cap Russia (RSXJ) or even small-cap specialized funds like the Global Agribusiness Small Cap (CROP).
The latest flurry, however, has been with broad-based domestic-index funds offering slight variations on indices like the S&P 500 ($INX) and the Russell 1000. A few weeks ago PowerShares debuted the S&P 500 High Beta Portfolio (SPHB), which owns the 100 most volatile stocks in the S&P 500, and the S&P 500 Low Volatility Portfolio (SPLV) which own the 100 least volatile stocks in the S&P 500.
In the last few days, index provider Russell Investments launched a suite of 10 ETFs similar to the two PowerShares funds but with more granularity for its own large-cap Russell 1000 Index and small-cap Russell 2000 Index:
General Mills' cereal sales have been soggy lately, but the popularity of one of America's favorite breakfast staples endures.
It's still the best-selling cereal on the shelves. Well, technically, Honey Nut Cheerios is tops, but that still counts. One of every eight cereal boxes sold at U.S. stores is in the Cheerios family, The Associated Press reports.
To celebrate the big birthday, the city of Buffalo, N.Y., is holding a special Cheerios breakfast near the General Mills (GIS) plant that makes the cereal. You might associate Buffalo with the chicken wing, but the city has had a longer relationship with Cheerios. It's been making them at its waterfront plant since 1941, and the Buffalo chicken wing, the little youngster, has been around only since 1964.
Research In Motion's CEOs engage in awkward semantic debate. Netflix battles tech woes. CenturyLink puts its name on a stadium.
By Gregg Greenberg, TheStreet
5. RIM's silly semantics
Research In Motion (RIMM) reported its fiscal first-quarter results late last week, beating analysts' earnings estimates by 1 cent while missing sales estimates by an ugly $200 million. Research In Motion also significantly lowered its outlook for the full year. The lowered guidance had traders unloading RIM's stock -- it's down nearly 20% since last Friday and sitting near multiyear lows -- almost as quickly as customers are abandoning its gadgets in favor of Apple's (AAPL) iPhone and devices powered by Google's (GOOG) Android operating system.
Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, the company's co-CEOs, didn't help things when they engaged in a semantics debate on a call with analysts. After announcing a wide-reaching plan to overhaul its organization through new product launches, cutbacks and layoffs, Balsillie challenged an analyst for referring to his reforms as a "restructuring." Read more
Shares tank after the company reports a decline in hardware revenue, but analysts say the worry is overblown. With video on Oracle's quarterly financial results.
By James Rogers, TheStreet
Oracle shares tanked after the results, released after market close Thursday. Investors reacted negatively to the decrease in hardware systems revenue, which dipped 6% to $1.2 billion. Oracle's overall revenue, however, climbed 12% to $10.8 billion.
The hardware number "spooks investors, but I believe they're reaching the wrong conclusion," Richard Davis, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity, wrote in an email to TheStreet.
"We do not want to overreact to trends in a business representing 10% of Oracle's revenue mix," Karl Keirstead, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets, said in a note released Friday. "The other 90% of Oracle is performing well."
There's always time to look at the bright side of life.
By Rick Aristotle Munarriz
If you're feeling good about the market, you're not alone. Take my hand as we go over some of this week's more uplifting headlines.
Buyers of pre-owned cars sold through GM dealers that have deactivated XM receivers -- regardless of the original manufacturer -- will now come with three-month trials to the premium radio service.
It's a win-win-win deal that Sirius XM has been inking with leading auto manufacturers. Used-car buyers get three months of free satellite radio. Sirius XM has an easier way to woo new paying subscribers with minimal investments, since the dormant receivers are already in the cars. The automakers get a piece of the action from Sirius XM for any drivers who sign up as paying subscribers.
The decision to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will shake out speculators and help consumers.
All people did Thursday when I asked them about this Strategic Petroleum Reserve gambit was tell me how silly it was, how it won't work and how it is just a sign of desperation.
To which I say that we have thrown trillions of dollars and euros all over the place to get this world's economy moving again, and it is failing in large part because the price of oil is too high. Is it really such a nutty idea to hit the market with enough oil that the nonconsumers who are hoarding it get blown out and the price falls? Is it really so crazy that we should criticize it when it's already working?
Sometimes people have to recognize the beauty of this. If all it takes to destroy the price is the release of a couple of days' supply of oil from our reserve to the marketplace, can't you see how phony the whole thing is? The critics would let us be hostage to that situation instead of having this artificial and easily manipulated market be brought to heel.
The electric-car market hasn't taken off like some expected, and that leaves a dearth of customers for A123 Systems.
A stronger greenback is shaking Wall Street traders, but it's exactly what Main Street consumers need.
Since Osama bin Laden was taken out on May 1, the U.S. dollar has stabilized and moved higher. I guess that after years of seemingly endless wars, terrorist threats, economic stagnation and financial crisis, the clean kill half a world away restored some of America's honor. It couldn't come soon enough.
Between June 2010 and May 1, the dollar lost nearly 18%. While that was good news from the perspective of Wall Street traders and multinational CEOs, it was terrible for average consumers. Gas prices spiked and crude oil soared on currency effects and supply concerns. And import prices climbed as a weaker dollar helped import Chinese inflation. All of this contributed to the current soft patch in the economy.
But things are changing now. It started with bin Laden's death. Now the Federal Reserve's decision this week to end its $600 billion money-printing operation without a followup has added to the dollar's tailwind. That's just the thing to get the recovery back on track -- even if it makes Wall Street a little uncomfortable.
Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings becomes a Facebook director, paving the way for more partnerships between the companies.
The chief executive of Netflix, Reed Hastings, has joined the board of the social-networking giant. Hastings is also on the board of Microsoft (MSFT). Note: MSN Money is owned by Microsoft.
So what does this mean? Netflix is already trying to integrate itself into Facebook, and I imagine the partnership will continue to flourish. Now, Netflix will have more opportunity to become a primary video streaming source for Facebook users.
Facebook has been experimenting with streaming movies.
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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished the Wednesday session on a modestly lower note, but it is worth mentioning today's retreat took place after six consecutive gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.1%) and S&P 500 (-0.2%) settled not far below their flat lines, while the Nasdaq Composite (-0.8%) lagged throughout the session.
Equity indices started the day in the red, with the Nasdaq showing early weakness as large cap tech names and biotechnology weighed. The technology ... More
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