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Starting next year, the $5 charge will hit most customers who buy things with debit cards.

By Kim Peterson Sep 29, 2011 1:30PM
Bank of America (BAC), drowning in financial problems, plans to add a $5 monthly fee for customers who make debit card purchases.

The Dow Jones news service uncovered the plans after seeing an internal memo sent to bank executives Thursday. It's safe to say that customers will be outraged if the new charges start early next year as planned.

The fee will kick in only during the months when customers use their debit cards to make a purchase, Dow Jones reports. If you use your debit card only at an ATM, you won't get charged. 

The grocery store cash register is doubling as a vacuum.

By InvestorPlace Sep 29, 2011 10:40AM

By Jeff Reeves, InvestorPlace.com


Inflation is the untold story of the economic downturn. While unemployment, foreclosures and government debt make plenty of headlines, it's startling to consider the slow and steady ascent of consumer staples. Inflation is driving up things like beef, soft drinks, grains and milk.


There are ways to hedge your investment portfolio against inflation, such as the best inflation investments I highlighted recently in a separate column. But there is little you can do to cut back the grocery bill as food prices continue rising.


Haven't noticed how bad inflation has gotten at the supermarket? Well, here are nine ugly instances showing how much damage inflation is inflicting on family budgets:

 

The huge number of unlocked smartphones illustrates either fans' fervor for Apple or customer dissatisfaction with AT&T and Verizon.

By InvestorPlace Sep 29, 2011 9:53AM
By Jeff Reeves, InvestorPlace.com

Apple (AAPL) iPhone fans know no bounds. Sprint (S) and T-Mobile might not formally carry the iPhone or subsidize sales of the smartphone, but that doesn't stop Apple junkies from finding a way around limitations.


Case in point: A blog post from T-Mobile this week claims that 1 million T-Mobile iPhones are already on the company's network.

 

Contrast a company like Paychex, which is finding new ways to grow, with Darden, which asks you to keep waiting for a turnaround.

By Jim Cramer Sep 29, 2011 8:57AM

the streetHere we go again. A division of Darden (DRI) is disappointing. This time it is Olive Garden with some truly hideous numbers: a 2.9% decline in same-store sales.

 

That -- plus some very negative commentary about challenges and inflation and still one more promise to revitalize stores -- makes me feel that, while there's a 3.8% yield, maybe it's not worth waiting for this company to get its act together.

Contrast Darden with Paychex (PAYX). Here's a company that is levered to hiring and business formation. It should be getting hammered, because we don't have a lot of hiring or business formation in this country. Has Paychex decided it will sit around and wait for things to get better? Hardly. It has created services, including human resources outsourcing options, that enabled it to beat numbers and report 13% growth.

 

We're not yet at the day when we can choose from a menu of channels, but we may be headed there.

By Kim Peterson Sep 28, 2011 5:53PM
After fighting the idea for decades, cable operators are finally opening the door to offering channels on an individual basis.

Customers have clamored for this for years. If you don't watch the Disney Channel, why on Earth should you have to pay for it? But cable companies have argued that the all-or-nothing approach is the only way to do it.

But now, cable customers are slipping away. They're cutting budgets in the stumbling economy. They're moving to programs available on Netflix (NFLX) or other websites. Comcast (CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (TWC) lost 1.2 million video customers in the last year, Reuters reports

F5 Networks is barely off its 52-week bottom, but analysts expect big earnings growth for its fourth quarter.

By Jim J. Jubak Sep 28, 2011 5:04PM
Let’s say this rally runs for a while -- like maybe right into earnings season. What about a good buy or two?

(I wouldn’t recommend getting giddy here, though. Remember that the Aug. 31 high on the S&P 500 is 1,219, and the July high is 1,344. This market is in a trading range, in my opinion, until it demonstrates otherwise, though there is a question of where the top is, 1,219 or 1,344. The bottom seems pretty clear at 1,120.)

You can go for stocks in the crushed commodities sector, such as Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX), which I recommended on Monday.
 

After more than a month of customer discontent, subscriber defections may be bottoming out.

By Kim Peterson Sep 28, 2011 3:33PM
Netflix (NFLX) can breathe a sigh of relief. After one of the worst months in its history, things may be finally looking up.

Subscriber cancellations are stabilizing, according to a note from analysts at PiperJaffray. The analysts conducted a survey of subscribers and found that that only 10% of customers now expect to quit the service. That's down from 15% in mid-August.

"The risk of a mass exodus appears to be moderating," the analysts wrote

With a new device at a shockingly low price, Amazon has just narrowed the field to 2 players.

By Kim Peterson Sep 28, 2011 2:13PM
The way people are raving about Amazon's (AMZN) new Kindle, you'd think Apple (AAPL) would just pack it in and go home. Game over.

After all, this is a 7-inch touch-screen tablet that can play movies and music -- for only $199. The cheapest iPad starts at $499.

Amazon's stock lit up after the announcement Wednesday, trading up 3% at midday to $231. Apple shares were unchanged. 

The Kindle Fire could make a big difference for the company.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Sep 28, 2011 2:06PM

By Eric Bleeker

 

If you take one thing away from the unveiling of Amazon.com's (AMZN) new tablet, it should be this: When Jeff Bezos unveiled the price at Wednesday's press conference, the person sitting next to me gasped.

 

Only $199 for that sharp-looking of a tablet?

 

If you've been holding out on buying an iPad in hopes of a more viable competitor, your time has come. Amazon has unveiled its new Kindle Fire. I was at the press conference and offer more analysis below, but first the details:

 

As Europe nears a solution to its debt crisis, investors buy up some of the most economically sensitive stocks.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Sep 28, 2011 1:34PM

Stocks have pushed higher this week as European policymakers move closer to mending the festering wound that is their debt crisis, which has gone on so long without adequate treatment that it's now beginning to infect the continent's banking system as well.

 

The catalyst for the surge of good feelings has been reports that the eurozone is poised to enact a creative solution to maximize the firepower of its existing €440 billion bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility.


Details are unimportant. What matters is that the plan would give the Europeans €3.2 trillion with which to support Greece and build a firewall around the too-big-to-fail nations of Italy and Spain.

 

These funds offer diversity along with exposure to a few heavyweights.

By TheStreet Staff Sep 28, 2011 11:18AM

the streetBy Don Dion, TheStreet

 

Instant diversification is one of the biggest benefits that come with exchange-traded funds.

 

It's still possible to use these products to gain ample exposure to stock market darlings. Below, I've highlighted funds that allow investors to tap into three popular tech names.  

 

Apple. Setting aside 15% of its portfolio to Apple (AAPL), the PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) is one of the strongest options fans can turn to in order to gain access to this company. QQQ is not just a popular choice for Apple followers, however. On the contrary, when paired with other broad index ETFs, the fund can also make for an attractive core component in a well-diversified portfolio.

 

Think low prices are here to stay? Think again.

By InvestorPlace Sep 28, 2011 10:42AM

Image: Oil drums (© Kevin Phillips/Digital Vision/age fotostock)By Jeff Reeves, InvestorPlace.com


After hitting a high of about $115 a barrel just a few months ago, crude oil is trading near one-year lows. Oil is down around $80 a barrel as a weakened global economy has put a damper on demand. (The 2010 low for crude was around $77 a barrel.)


As a result, energy stocks have been held back this year. The broad-based iShares Dow Jones US Energy Sector ETF (IYE) is off more than 12% year to date, more than twice as bad as the Dow Jones Industrial Average's nearly 6% decline. While major oil stock Exxon Mobil (XOM) has outperformed its peers, XOM is still in the red since January.


Despite these headwinds, investors with an eye for the long term should seriously consider jumping into the oil sector now. Macroeconomic trends across the next few years really favor oil stocks as a long-term buy.


Here are five reasons to drill for profits in oil and energy stocks:

 

Best Buy just announced it will hire about half as many workers this holiday season, and that's part of a broader retail trend.

By InvestorPlace Sep 28, 2011 9:24AM

By Jeff Reeves, InvestorPlace.com


If you're looking for a seasonal job this holiday shopping season, you might get a lump of coal in your stocking. The demand for temporary retail work in November and December appears tepid at best.


The latest sign of concern: Word from Best Buy (BBY), the world’s largest consumer electronics retailer, that the company will hire about half the seasonal workers as last year -- a mere 15,000, compared with 29,000 in 2010.


This is a broader trend that should be disturbing to anyone looking for a temporary job in the next few months.

 

Don't be surprised to see some last-minute wrangling before Europe's version of TARP passes.

By Jim Cramer Sep 28, 2011 8:54AM

the streetThey hated TARP here, too. Remember?

 

Remember when that first vote failed and the markets took that breathtaking dip?

 

We have to figure we could be on the road to that form of perdition right now, before the obstinate leaders in Europe come around to the impossibility of their position and the certain destruction of multiple banking institutions if they don't take action.

 

That's what this moment is all about. Just as it seemed Hank Paulson had the votes to get TARP approved and didn't -- the first time -- we have to be thinking that when a German finance minister calls part of the bailout "silly" and when there are 17 disparate parties arguing, nothing's a shoo-in.

 

Limits on certain mortgages will make it harder for some people to buy higher-end homes.

By Kim Peterson Sep 27, 2011 3:08PM
It's getting harder to buy pricey homes now that lower mortgage caps are on the way.

The limits are set to kick in Saturday, and it's unclear what the changes will do for the housing market and the economy. At issue are the 90% of new home loans guaranteed by the government. What is the maximum mortgage the government will support?

When the economy was tanking in 2008, Congress raised those limits in order to boost the housing market, The Los Angeles Times reports. That helped people buy more-expensive homes, because lenders knew they could count on Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration for backup. 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages finished the session on a modestly higher note, but not before heavy selling pressure sent the Nasdaq Composite (+0.3%) for a test of its 200-day moving average. The S&P 500, meanwhile, added 0.7% with all ten sectors posting gains.

Equities climbed at the open with the advance built on the relative strength of biotechnology and other momentum names. Despite the solid early gains in those areas, the market began fading from its high as multiple ... More


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