Energy boom makes oil a safe haven
Oil becomes a surprising haven

The idea of US crude being a shelter from turmoil abroad may not be as far fetched as it seems.

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While the overall market remains mired in a two-month trading range, evidence builds for an upside breakout as semiconductor stocks perk up.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Sep 13, 2011 3:13PM

If the financial markets are a battle field, then the fog of war down on Wall Street is particularly thick these days.

 

Stocks and other risky assets are rising and falling based on every rumor, whisper and denial out of Europe. On Monday, it was all about China using its $3.2 trillion stash of currency reserves to support Italy's bond market. Tuesday, it's all about a Dutch finance minister saying that a Greek default is unavoidable -- a statement that was later retracted.

 

But all the while, just beneath the tumult and turmoil on the surface, Wall Street insiders are stealthily accumulating new stakes in super sensitive sectors like semiconductors and transports. That, along with a number of positive technical signals, suggest that despite the euro zone worries a new medium-term uptrend is being formed. Here's why.

 

Believe it or not, there are signs the economy is better than many people say. A diversified portfolio should reflect that.

By John Reese Sep 13, 2011 12:57PM

The European banking crisis, sluggish recent U.S. growth, a burgeoning deficit and national debt -- investors have had a lot troubling issues on their minds lately. And they should, as all of those are serious issues that should cause concern. But at the same time, some significant positive signs have been popping up -- and going largely unnoticed.


Retail and food service sales have been rising in recent months. Consumers are saving twice as much as they were heading into the Great Recession, and they are carrying their lightest debt loads since 1994. The service sector expanded at a healthy rate in August, and while manufacturing growth decelerated, it was still positive despite all of the turmoil last month, the Institute for Supply Management recently reported.

 

Investors are focusing primarily on the negatives, however, which isn't surprising, given that the wounds of the 2008-09 financial crisis and market collapse are still fresh. Having been burned badly, they are going to be skeptical of positive signs and seize on the negatives.

 

Fans of the store's new Missoni line apparently crashed the site after the collection launched.

By Kim Peterson Sep 13, 2011 11:48AM
Updated 8:15 p.m. ET

Eager fashion fans crashed Target's (TGT) website Tuesday, bringing it down for hours as the company scrambled.

The troubles were apparently caused by Target's launch of a collection developed by Italian luxury line Missoni. By 9 a.m. ET, the site was down. Target was clearly working furiously -- the site would come back to life at times throughout the day -- but by the evening there were still problems.

It was no less chaotic inside Target's stores.  

Encouraging trade data from China offer some hope for investors weighed down by European market fears.

By TheStreet Staff Sep 13, 2011 11:42AM

Image: Shanghai, China (© Yang Liu/Corbis)By Don Dion, TheStreetTheStreet

 

The financial crisis sweeping through Europe is again dominating headlines and worrying investors.

 

Although the turmoil in Greece, France, Germany and the rest of the euro monetary bloc will steal attention in the days ahead, I encourage investors to avoid being distracted from other, more promising events taking place elsewhere around the globe.

 

While Europe is under a deluge of dismal market-related news, other closely watched global players have actually enjoyed some promising economic data over the past few days.

 

Facing a higher tax rate in Obama's jobs bill, hedge fund managers are contributing more to GOP candidates. The move might be their most profitable bet this year.

By TheStreet Staff Sep 13, 2011 11:17AM

Image: Politics (© Jim Zook/Images.com/Corbis)By Robert Holmes, TheStreetTheStreet

 

In a year of disappointing stock returns, it turns out that hedge funds' best investment may be in Republican presidential candidates.

 

The details of President Barack Obama's $447 billion jobs bill emerged Monday, and it was revealed that investment managers' gains would be taxed at the income tax level. The tax rate on carried interest income -- the profits investment managers are paid as compensation -- is currently 15%, below the income rate of 35%.

 

Obama's decision to take aim at the carried interest tax break is a direct hit at hedge funds and echoes calls made by billionaire investor Warren Buffett in his New York Times op-ed asking regulators to stop coddling the superrich. In the commentary, Buffett noted that he paid only 17% of his taxable income, a lower rate than even his secretary pays.

 

Many analysts expect metals to rise on continued stock weakness, but chart and volume patterns indicate they might be due for a decline of their own.

By MoneyShow.com Sep 13, 2011 10:44AM

By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com


Since the July 7 closing high in the S&P 500 at 1353, weakness in the stock market has correlated to strength in gold prices. The December Comex gold futures contract is up 18.4% during this period, while the S&P is down 14.1%.


Tuesday’s early weakness in the stock market was met with some surprising strength into the close as the September E-mini S&P 500 futures closed 34 points above the day’s lows. This surely gave the bulls some hope and made those who were short quite nervous.


Overnight in Europe, stocks were lower on concerns over the health of European banks, but so far, the futures are holding up well. These banks have looked weak for some time, and the RS analysis on several suggested in August that the global banks could fall further.


So if stocks drop back to the August lows, does it mean that gold is going to rise another $50 or $100? It is always possible, but for the first time since early in the year, the volume analysis is showing signs of weakness, which points to a correction, not a further rally.

 

Expectations have finally fallen too low for the high-performance chip-maker.

By Jim Cramer Sep 13, 2011 9:17AM

the streetjim cramerYou want a quandary? Here’s one: Where should Nvidia (NVDA) trade?

 

First, the maker of high-performance, high-speed semiconductors for pretty much everything save Apple (AAPL) is on a major roll. It has won contract after contact and is, without a doubt, shining in an era when gaming has simply been one of the great secular growth stories.

 

Nvidia's chips are the graphics behind the bold, lifelike characters you see at the introduction to all of the football games, the electronics in cars and the lifelike players in games like Call of Duty. Intel's (INTC) chips just aren't fast enough. Only Nvidia can get it done. And when Intel tries to be in fast graphical user interface chips, it licenses them from Nvidia. There's no earnings risk.

 

The CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang, came out last week at a tech conference and raised numbers and then said that the new estimate is conservative, in part because the Chinese business is so, so strong. (People ask for custom-made PCs there, and because gaming is so strong in China, a preponderance of people want Nvidia's chips in their boxes.)

 

The US is too deficit-focused to stop the bleeding as China gains ground in alternative energy and other industries.

By InvestorPlace Sep 13, 2011 9:09AM

By Tom Taulli, InvestorPlace.com


About a year ago, President Barack Obama toured Solyndra, a top manufacturer of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. It was a centerpiece of clean tech and how it would reinvigorate jobs. As a sign of importance of the company, the Department of Energy provided a $535 million loan guarantee.


Unfortunately, it has turned out to be a disaster. This month, Solyndra filed for bankruptcy, shut down its manufacturing facility and terminated about 1,100 employees. There are also concerns about fraud and book-cooking at the company.


Allegations of impropriety aside, Solyndra has a lot to say about the state of the U.S. alternative energy scene. It looks like China has been even more aggressive with its alternative energy investments -- and if America isn't careful, it could force us out of the green energy biz altogether.

 

The latest attack on banks sounds reasonable but makes no sense.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Sep 12, 2011 3:59PM
By Dan Caplinger

 

The housing crisis has defied both expectations and easy solutions, making a mockery of optimistic forecasts for years now. Yet the latest news on the housing front shows how little attention the federal government and big banks are paying to the real problem behind the crisis: depressed home prices that have paralyzed homeowners and lenders alike.

 

An unnecessary distraction
Last week, the Federal Housing Finance Agency sued 17 banks, alleging that they sold almost $200 billion in high-risk mortgage loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac without full disclosure. With $57.4 billion in bonds at issue, Bank of America (BAC) faces the biggest potential liability, while JPMorgan Chase (JPM) has $33 billion in loans under review.

 

There's no denying that banks deserve some of the blame for bad loans. Controversies like the robo-signing scandal and other improper documentation for mortgages highlight just how messed up bank procedures were during the housing boom.

 

Even stocks with good fundamentals are getting hurt as investors turn against the European banking sector.

By Jim J. Jubak Sep 12, 2011 3:53PM
Jim JubakNot unexpectedly, European bank stocks were taking another hit Monday.

Not unexpectedly given fears of a Greek default, a pending downgrade of French banks, and worries that the European Central Bank is hamstrung in its ability to respond to German opposition.

You’ve probably cut way back on your exposure to European banks -- but maybe you still own a few. I’ve given the thumbs up to several European bank stocks with high dividends in the last few months.

How are they -- Banco Santander (STD), Banco Bilbao Vizcaya (BBVA) and Svenska Handelsbanken (SVNLF) -- doing? (Banco Santander is a member of my Dividend Income portfolio.)
 

Companies are choosing to make products for the highest and lowest income levels -- not the gray area in between.

By Kim Peterson Sep 12, 2011 3:31PM
We live in an economy where luxury shops and dollar stores are doing spectacularly well. It's an odd distribution that some analysts describe as an hourglass -- bulging at the highest and lowest income levels.

The middle class? History. The housing market bust and the high unemployment rate have taken a huge toll on what was once a steady middle class (families with annual incomes of between $50,000 and $140,000).

Now, companies are changing their focus to cater to the rich and the poor -- but not that crumbling area in between. 

Over the past 5 years, these funds have returned 3% annually as the S&P 500 has dipped into the red.

By TheStreet Staff Sep 12, 2011 1:59PM

Image: Global (©Maciej Frolow/Brand X/Getty Images)By Stan Luxenberg, TheStreetTheStreet

 

Struggling to protect their assets, investors have been turning to world allocation funds. The funds have the flexibility to dodge trouble spots and invest in promising stocks and bonds around the world.

 

During the past year, investors have poured $24 billion into world allocation funds, according to Morningstar. That was a striking showing at a time when many stock funds suffered big outflows. Steady performance has been attracting the inflows. During the past five years, world allocation funds returned 3% annually, while the S&P 500 ($INX) dipped into the red.

         

Some of the most popular world allocation funds make sudden tactical moves, emphasizing emerging markets one year and U.S. bonds the next. But many funds in the category shift only slowly. The aim is to deliver steady results and not necessarily call every market move.

 

Ted Weschler favors consumer-discretionary, financial and telecom companies that generate lots of cash.

By TheStreet Staff Sep 12, 2011 1:08PM

By Robert Holmes, TheStreetTheStreet

 

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) has a new fund manager to help oversee its $50 billion investment portfolio. Some of his favorite stock picks are DirecTV (DTV) and W.R. Grace (GRA).

 

Berkshire Hathaway said Monday that Ted Weschler will join the company early in 2012 after he winds down his Peninsula Capital Advisors hedge fund. Weschler and Todd Combs, who was added to Berkshire last year, will each manage a portion of the equity portfolios of Berkshire's insurance subsidiaries.

 

"With Todd and Ted on board, Berkshire is well-positioned for successor investment management at the time Mr. Buffett is no longer CEO," Berkshire said in a statement Monday.

 

Risk is elevated on 4 Nasdaq leaders, but all are strong outperformers that could lead the market's next rally.

By MoneyShow.com Sep 12, 2011 1:01PM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

Last week's ugly close sets the stage for the completion of the flag formations that I discussed last week. In very early trading on Monday, the E-mini S&P 500 futures were trading down over 17 points and had broken the support of the flag formation. A close below this support will set the stage for further selling this week.


The technology sector, as represented by the Nasdaq 100 and the PowerShares QQQ Trust (QQQ), is acting much better than the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Tech stocks have rebounded further from the August lows and may be able to hold those August lows while the other major averages break to new lows.

 

A fund manager who successfully bid for a pair of private dinners with the Oracle will now work at Berkshire Hathaway.

By Kim Peterson Sep 12, 2011 12:45PM
Want to get a job with Warren Buffett? Buy him dinner a couple of times -- and spend $5.25 million in the process.

That's what happened to Ted Weschler, 50, who was the managing partner at the Peninsula Capital Advisors hedge fund.

For two years in a row, Weschler has been the anonymous bidder who won a private dinner with Buffett. 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market began the last week of July on a quiet note with the S&P 500 ending less than a point above its flat line. Like the benchmark index, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) also posted a slim gain, while the Russell 2000 (-0.5%) and Nasdaq Composite (-0.1%) lagged throughout the session.

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