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Economists and investing pros increasingly think the worst is behind us. If you agree, here are 3 big-picture ways to benefit.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 14, 2012 5:14PM

Image: Arrow Up (© Stockbyte/SuperStock)

 U.S. News & World Report on MSN MoneyA year ago, the economic recovery turned out to be a false dawn. This time, however, it's looking like things could keep getting brighter.

 

The economy has been adding jobs for 17 months in a row, with the pace of hiring accelerating so far this year. Layoffs are abating, the stock market is rising and Europe seems to be patching up its financial problems. There are countervailing trends, to be sure, such as continued gloom in the housing market and incoherent policymaking in Washington. But with every passing month, the damage from a painful downturn heals.

 

The company has changed its policy and now writes customers' names on cups. That crosses the line for some.

By Kim Peterson Mar 14, 2012 4:19PM
Credit: © Stuart Wilson/Getty Images
Caption: Jimmy Carr launches new stronger British Latte at Starbucks on March 14, 2012 in London, EnglandStarbucks (SBUX) baristas often ask American customers their names to write on order cups. It's an easy way to move orders fast, and Americans don't generally mind sharing -- even if the names get a little mangled along the way.

The British, however, are a different story. Starbucks has begun asking customers' names there in an effort to be warmer and friendlier, and some aren't thrilled by the policy change.

The controversy is brewing to the point where the BBC wonders if Starbucks should brace for a backlash. 
Tags: SBUX

The company is one of several racing to get treatments approved.

By Jim J. Jubak Mar 14, 2012 2:55PM

Image: Senior man in wheelchair looking out window (© Tetra Images/Getty Images)Short of a market meltdown that sends every investor screaming out of anything with a bit of risk, biotechnology stocks tend to march to their own drummer, going up on the progress of drug trials and corporate partnerships independent of what the market does.


OncoGenex (OGXI) scores highly on both those metrics. Which is why I'm adding it to my Jubak's Picks portfolio Wednesday.


The company has two prostate-cancer drugs in Phase II and Phase III trials.

 
Tags: OGXITEVA

Though the market keeps raging to the upside, I keep seeing bearish signs in market sentiment.

By V.N. Katsenelson Mar 14, 2012 2:23PM

Though the market keeps raging to the upside, I keep seeing bearish signs in market sentiment.


The VIX is hitting multi-year lows, NYSE short interest is hitting a four-year low, the ratio of insider selling to buying is running at what John Hussman calls a "panic level" at 8 to 1 (for every share bought eight were sold).

 

What about Time Warner? A partnership with the cable company would be a good idea.

By Trefis Mar 14, 2012 2:19PM
Image: Businessman watching television (© Image Source/Corbis)Netflix's (NFLX) proposals for partnership with a pay-TV company have reportedly been turned down by some of the big names in the business, including DirecTV (DTV), Dish Network (DISH) and Comcast (CMCSA).

This is no surprise. We noted before that it was unlikely any of these companies would partner with Netflix. We pointed out that Time Warner Cable (TWC) was the only potential partner for Netflix among the major cable companies. But we have yet to see any developments between the two companies over the matter. Why? 

 

With the seasonal strong period for crude oil now upon us, consider any pullbacks in these refining stocks as a buying opportunity.

By MoneyShow.com Mar 14, 2012 1:53PM

Image: Oil refinery (© Kevin Burke/Corbis)By Tom Aspray


As we have noted before, crude oil typically bottoms in February. This year, the May crude oil contract hit a low of $96.26 on February 2, before rallying to $110.34 just over three weeks later.


The recent pullback in crude has merely taken prices back to the breakout level. This correction should be followed by a resumption of the weekly uptrend, and a move above the February highs. A close in the May crude oil contract above last week's high of $108.65 will indicate that the correction is over.

 

REITs should be on the radar of every income investor. Don't overlook them.

By TheStockAdvisors Mar 14, 2012 1:39PM
By Stephen Leeb, editor Income Performance Letter

Digital Realty Trust (DLR), which owns and manages technology-related real estate, ended 2011 on a high note; it remains a safe income play with one of the best growth profiles in the REIT space.

The key for Digital last year was its foray into the Asian Pacific markets (34% of new leases in terms of footage, notably Singapore and Australia), where rates are substantially higher. 
Tags: DLRREIT

Interest rates are headed higher in a big way as the market worries about inflation.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Mar 14, 2012 1:17PM

Image: Man Taking Money Out of Wallet © NULL/CorbisSoviet-style central planning is alive and well in the United States. A large chunk of the economy, specifically the market price for money, has been artificially depressed by the Federal Reserve. But now, there are signs the free market is reasserting itself.

 

Short-term rates have been held near 0% since 2008 and are likely to stay there through 2014, according to Fed policymakers. Long-term rates have been held down through two rounds of quantitative easing and the current "Operation Twist" policy that sees the central bank sell short-term bond holdings to actively push down borrowing rates for things like homes and cars.

 

Consulting firms are critical to government and corporate America, but this one remains an undiscovered prize.

By Gene Marcial Mar 14, 2012 1:16PM

Image: Financial adviser talking with clients © NULL/CorbisAs corporate America continues to slash fixed costs and governments persist in shrinking budgets, the use of consultants has increased significantly. They have become a critical part of management in both the public and private sectors.

 

Yet investors haven't caught up with the idea that consultants generate a lot of innovative ideas and execute strategic policies for government agencies and commercial enterprises -- and make good money in the process.

 

On his last day there, Greg Smith slams the company as a morally bankrupt place he is no longer proud of.

By Kim Peterson Mar 14, 2012 12:12PM
Greg Smith didn't just resign from Goldman Sachs (GS) on Wednesday. He brought a big match and torched the place on his way out the door.

The big match was Smith's devastating New York Times opinion piece that had Wall Street in a whirlwind. It's a revelatory piece about the Wall Street firm's moral decline in the nearly 12 years Smith worked there. Now he describes the environment as "toxic and destructive." 
Tags: GS

Shares of the satellite radio company are among the most overvalued in history.

By Jonathan Berr Mar 14, 2012 12:10PM
Image: Driving home (© gehringj/Vetta/Getty Images)More investors are betting that Sirius XM Radio (SIRI) will fail.

Short interest in the satellite broadcasting service was 285.8 million as of Feb. 29, up about 5% from the previous week. This represents a reversal from the Feb. 15 data, which showed short interest dropping more than 10% from the week before to 273 million -- its lowest level in about three months. 
Tags: SIRI

Despite what you've heard, the market is doing well thanks to strong earnings from powerhouse companies, such as Apple and Disney.

By Jim Cramer Mar 14, 2012 12:01PM

Noise makes you lose money. Noise can be a killer. Noise can really get you down. That's how I look at yesterday's market action. Let me give you some noise that drowned out some terrific ideas.

 

First, there's the Apple (AAPL) news. It's terrific, no doubt about it. There are lines for the new iPads -- people are begging for them. But that would normally mean you have to see the Microsoft Intel world. That's not working as both stocks keep going higher. Not only that, I think those who are saying that Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows 8 is a loser haven't used it. I love the darned thing. Uninformed noise.

 

Micron is upgraded to 'outperform,' and Citigroup is downgraded to 'neutral.'

By MSN Money Partner Mar 14, 2012 10:54AM
Information provided by Theflyonthewall.com

Wednesday's noteworthy upgrades include:
  • CBS (CBS) upgraded to Top Pick from Outperform at RBC Capital
  • NXP Semiconductors (NXPI) upgraded to Conviction Buy from Buy at Goldman
  • Altera (ALTR) upgraded to Conviction Buy from Buy at Goldman
 

The troubled company didn't have enough capital on hand to satisfy the Federal Reserve.

By InvestorPlace Mar 14, 2012 10:22AM
By Jeff Reeves

During the financial crisis and for months afterward, the entire banking industry seemingly moved in lockstep. But that has changed significantly in the past 12 months. Consider that since early 2011, Wells Fargo (WFC) is up slightly while Bank of America (BAC) is down 40%.


This week, the Federal Reserve released stress test results that once again showed a widening disparity between good and bad banks. At the head of the class: JPMorgan Chase (JPM), which raised its dividend and will buy back shares.


The biggest flunky? That old laggard Citigroup (C), which didn't pass and saw shares sell off sharply Tuesday morning as a result.

 

This year, the biotech firm is expected to report clinical data on 7 new drug products in its pipeline.

By TheStockAdvisors Mar 14, 2012 10:17AM
By John McCamant, The Medical Technology Stock Letter

We expect 2012 to be the year that investors both discover and learn to appreciate the broad potential of antisense technology in drug development. As such, we continue to recommend Isis Pharmaceuticals (ISIS).

The company finished 2011 with a pro forma net operating loss (NOL) of $61.3 million compared to a pro forma NOL of $36.2 million for 2010. At year-end, the firm had nearly $344 million in cash. 
Tags: ISIS

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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished an upbeat week on a mixed note. The S&P 500 shed less than a point, ending the week higher by 1.3%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) cemented a 1.7% advance for the week. High-beta names underperformed, which weighed on the Nasdaq Composite (-0.3%) and the Russell 2000 (-1.3%).

Equity indices displayed strength in the early going with the S&P 500 tagging the 2,019 level during the opening 30 minutes of the action. However, ... More


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