A Mexican wave for Big Oil?
Mexico opens way for Big Oil

New legislation is allowing foreign companies to finally invest in the country's vast oil reserves.

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The retailer is about to sink billions into developing its Rack website. Remember what happened to newspapers after they tried a similar tactic?

By Jim Cramer Mon 11:53 AM

The Nordstrom store located in Troy, Mich. © Gary Malerba/APOf all the truly disturbing retail conference calls we heard last week, it wasn't the disappointing Macy's (M) call that got to me or the ho-hum, Mike Ullman-less J.C. Penney (JCP) call. It was the Nordstrom (JWN) run-through.


The call itself, on the surface, seemed like a good one. There was a new acquisition that seems to be panning out, an expansion of the Rack that everyone loves and a careful invasion of Canada -- unlike Target's (TGT) disastrous foray. Comparable-store sales are growing in the high 3 percent area, which seemed encouraging, and we could see how the stock might continue to rally as it did into the quarter.


But then we heard about "the spend." We heard that Nordstrom is going to invest $3.9 billion in capital in order to stay competitive, including $1.2 billion in technology -- and we reeled. That's even more than we thought last time, when the company talked about spending for what now seems like a run-in-place. The spending is causing a gross-margin guide-down, which is not what investors want to hear with 3 percent-plus comparable-store-sales growth.

 

As shoppers visit fewer stores and trade PacSun and Abercrombie & Fitch for Michael Kors and Coach, the traditional indoor mall fades further into retail memory.

By TheStreet.com Staff Mon 11:35 AM

Back to school sale at a mall in Miami, Fla. © Jeff Greenberg/AlamyBy Jason Notte, TheStreet


Call it Back To School, B2S or some other little moniker indicating an end-of-summer retail holiday: It's just another reason not to go to the mall.


Once a necessary end-of-summer stop packed with clothes, food courts, arcades and expendable income, the giant indoor mall just keeps limping toward its demise. ShopperTrak, whose entire purpose is to gauge retail foot traffic, says the number of folks who passed through indoor malls last year dropped 15 percent from the year before and has been falling steadily.


The National Retail Federation has tried to be somewhat optimistic. The retail industry group notes that the $26.5 billion consumers are expected to spend on back to back-to-school items for kindergarteners through high school seniors is down from last year, but that spending per student is up to $669 from $634. Altogether, school and college shoppers are expected to spend roughly $75 billion before the school year starts.

 

The renewed turmoil is sending ripples through the bond market and European stocks.

By InvestorPlace Fri 5:46 PM

Credit: © Yuri Kocketkov/EPA
Caption: A Russian convoy carrying humanitarian aid for residents in rebel eastern Ukrainian regions moves along a road about 50 km from Voronezh, Russia.By Anthony Mirhaydari


Stocks came under pressure on Friday as the situation in Eastern Europe kicked up a few notches.


With Russia's near 300-truck-long "humanitarian" convoy parked near the Ukrainian border, British journalists reportedly witnessed a convoy of Russian military vehicles -- including 23 armored personnel carriers -- cross into Ukraine.


Ukraine said it destroyed part of this convoy. Russia denies sending anything over in the first place.


The renewed escalation of tensions has stocks on the slide again, threatening to put an end to the two-week rebound the market had been enjoying. The situation on the ground remains in flux, with Ukrainian border guards apparently inspecting Russia's aid convoy in preparation of the move across the border. But confusion reigns.

 

The company is shifting its portfolio, placing bets on Verizon, DirecTV and Charter Communications.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 4:33 PM
Caption: Billionaire investor Warren Buffett
Credit: © Nati Harnik/APBy Stephen Gandel, Fortune

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) traded one cable investment for another in the second quarter, both with ties to media investor John Malone. And it increased its bet on Verizon (VZ).


The moves are a part of a shift in Berkshire's investment portfolio toward media plays, likely driven by Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, two investment professionals hired by Buffett as part of his succession plan.


According to a financial filing that came out on Thursday evening, the insurance conglomerate purchased just over 2 million shares of cable television provider Charter Communications (CHTR) in the second quarter. The stake was worth about $365 million at the end of June. 

 

Does the billionaire investor know something the rest of us don't?

By MSN Money Partner Fri 4:01 PM
Credit: © ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

Caption: George Soros
By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

Oh, goody. It’s 13F time, when mere mortals like us get to see how the big boys rolled the dice in the last quarter.


Among the highlights, Soros Fund Management increased a bear-call bet on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) in a huge way. 


The fund lifted a "put" position -- a bet the market will go lower -- on the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) to its biggest size yet, in terms of value and portfolio percentage, making a 605 percent leap over the previous quarter.


Bullion Baron, who has long kept a beady eye on George Soros' (pictured) SPY moves, has summed up the latest dealings. He speculated that this could be a hedge -- or Soros is really worried about something. 

 
Tags: AAPLFBSPY

The company is making a big bet on its Neighborhood Market stores. These photos show what the fuss is all about.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 2:10 PM
Credit: © Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Caption: Grocery items sit inside a cart at a Wal-Mart store in Alexandria, Va.By Ashley Lutz, Business Insider

Supercenters are on the decline as shoppers seek out smaller, more convenient stores.

Wal-Mart (WMTsaid this week that sales at U.S. mega-stores have been falling.


But there's still a bright spot in its business -- the Neighborhood Market concept. Sales at the markets were up an impressive 5.6 percent. 


"I think convenience is where the consumers have been looking, [especially] if you look at the Baby Boomers," Wal-Mart CFO Charles Holley said on a call with reporters Thursday.


Wal-Mart has about 400 Neighborhood Markets, compared with more than 3,300 Supercenters, notes Kyle Stock at Bloomberg Businessweek. The average store is about 20 percent the size of a Supercenter. 

 
Tags: WMT

A piece of Berkshire Hathaway costs nearly as much as an average home mortgage. Is it worth a buy?

By InvestorPlace Fri 1:48 PM

Credit: © Jim Thompson/Newscom/ZUMA Press
Caption: A Berkshire Hathaway sign is seen in Albuquerque, NM.By Lawrence Meyers


Well, Warren Buffett has gone and done it.


Berkshire Hathaway's Class A shares (BRK.A) topped the $200,000-per-share level for the first time this week, putting a single share of BRK.A stock just under the level of your average home mortgage.


Now seems as good a time as any, then, to talk to the investing world's well-heeled and discuss the prospects of owning such an elite product.


Here are the pros and cons of owning Berkshire Hathaway at the bargain price of $200,000 per share:

 

Even after a sloppy summer, stocks look like they will keep grinding up, 2 investing pros say.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 1:18 PM
Image: Stock market © Digital Vision/SuperStockBy Matthew J. Belvedere, CNBC

Despite the rough ride this summer due to international turmoil, stocks look like they're poised to continue their upward march, two market watchers told CNBC on Friday.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU), Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX), and Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) are on pace to clock in their biggest weekly gains in six weeks, after mollifying remarks Thursday from Russian President Vladimir Putin about Ukraine and an easing of tensions in Iraq.


"Stocks have been sloppy this summer. [But] we're still looking like we're grinding higher," Rebecca Patterson, chief investment officer at Bessemer Trust, said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "We've stayed overweight [stocks] and ridden through a sloppy summer."

 
Tags: MWMT

The new Fire smartphone isn't awful or necessarily doing anything wrong, the magazine notes. It just locks people out of some options.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 12:52 PM
Credit: © Ted S. Warren/AP

Caption: The new Amazon Fire PhoneBy Michelle Fox, CNBC

The new Amazon Fire smartphone (pictured) doesn't measure up against its competitors and "traps" its users in the Amazon ecosystem, according to a review by Consumer Reports.


While the Fire, which wants to be the ultimate shopping phone, taps into all Amazon (AMZN) has to offer, other phones can provide most of those benefits, Mike Gikas, an editor at Consumer Reportssaid Thursday on CNBC's "Power Lunch."


Instead, users are "trapped in Amazon's retail world."


"What happens with the Fire is that it's locked out of Google's Play app store, which prevents people from downloading very popular Google (GOOG) apps" like Gmail, Google Maps and the search tool Google Now, Gikas said. "These apps work together in a very interesting and compelling way that a lot of people like."

 

While the retailer may have saved itself and its workers' jobs, it's now just one more hurdle in the race to get a lower P/E.

By Jim Cramer Fri 12:35 PM

Customers walk into a JCPenney store in Daly City, Calif. © Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesWhat really happened at J.C. Penney (JCP)? It went back to being a company that will stay in business for some time and do OK. In retail that, frankly, is monumental.


I have never seen a retailer come back from down 30 percent comps. It is a testament to two things: one, how unbelievably horrible previous management was, and two, the board caught it soon enough that it was able to save the day.


Now, here's the issue facing Penney and all retailers, for that matter: relevance, as in, raison d'etre relevance.


TheStreet.com logoIf you step back and look at the landscape, you have to ask yourself, other than for the 110,000 people who work at Penney, why do we need it? In fact, the chief reason we, in this country, need Penney is kind of like why we need a government works program. We want people put in productive roles so they can lead good lives and put dinner on the table.

 

Alibaba Pictures Group, which is 60 percent owned by the company, announces a delay in its first-half earnings report.

By TheStreet.com Staff Aug 15, 2014 11:35AM

An employee walks past a logo of Alibaba at its headquarters in China © Carlos Barria/Newscom/ReutersBy Chris Ciaccia, TheStreet


The revelation that a company Alibaba has purchased a stake in now has accounting irregularities isn't likely to delay its initial public offering, slated to happen later this year, according to investors.TheStreet.com logo


"I think this is a 36-hour story," Ironfire Capital co-founder Eric Jackson said in an email. "By the time the roadshow starts, it will be forgotten." 


Jackson, a long-time Yahoo shareholder, has recently pushed for Yahoo to be acquired by Alibaba or Japanese conglomerate Softbank.


A division of Alibaba Group, Alibaba Pictures Group said it would delay its first-half earnings report after the company found accounting irregularities. The irregularities occurred prior to the 60 percent stake Alibaba took in the company, previously named ChinaVision Media Group. Alibaba spent $805 million for the stake earlier this year, amid several other acquisitions.

 

Mohamed El-Erian says equities are reflecting sentiment on easy monetary policies as investors bet on the Fed.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 14, 2014 4:36PM
Credit: © Kathy Willens/AP Photo
Caption: PIMCO Chief Executive Officer and Co-Chief Investment Officer Mohamed El-Erian speaks during a session at the Buttonwood Gathering on Fixing Finance in New York.By Bruno J. Navarro, CNBC

On pace for their largest weekly gains in six weeks, stocks are reflecting sentiment on easy monetary policies, Mohamed El-Erian, Allianz's chief economic advisor, said Thursday.


"It's impressive. And it's a bet on the Fed, and it's a bet on central banks in the rest of the world," he said.


On CNBC's "Halftime Report," El-Erian (pictured) said that this week's data have been "shockingly poor, both out of the U.S. and out of Europe."


That suggests that central banks will be dovish for longer, he added. "What does that mean? The market needs to continue to bet on the fact that the central banks have been the market's best friend."


El-Erian had two qualifications for what happens next in equity markets.

 

Problems? Investors will just worry about them tomorrow.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 14, 2014 4:21PM
Credit: © REX/SNAP
Caption: Vivien Leigh as ‘Scarlett O’Hara’ from ‘Gone With The Wind’By Drew Sandholm, CNBC

"I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow."


So said Scarlett O'Hara, the protagonist in "Gone with the Wind," the Pulitzer-winning book written by Margaret Mitchell in 1936, which was later into the award-winning film starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in 1939.


Indeed, there has been no shortage of things for Wall Street to worry about lately. Consider news of flat gross domestic product growth across the euro zone to mounting geopolitical tensions, for example.


Yet investors seemingly brushed off these concerns and stocks traded higher on Thursday.

 

Luxury Asian and Middle Eastern carriers offer passengers classy travel, but they fall far short when it comes to the bottom line.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 14, 2014 3:50PM
Caption: A American Airlines plane is parked at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
Credit: © Tom Fox/Dallas Morning News/CorbisBy Justin Bachman, Businessweek

Compared with those ultralux Asian and Middle Eastern airlines, it's easy to disparage the service levels of the average trip aboard an American (AAL), Delta (DAL), or United (UAL) plane. 


Overhead TVs in the aisle, circa 1980? Yep, the U.S. airline giants still have 'em. 


Free meals on a six-hour, cross-country flight or a 10-hour haul to Hawaii? Those aren't in the budget.


Yet when it comes to airline profits, no one does it like the U.S. carriers. 

 
Tags: AALDALUAL

The company gave a solid quarterly report Wednesday, but there were signs of turbulence beyond the headline numbers.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 14, 2014 2:29PM
Credit: © Kris Tripplaar/Rex Features

Caption: The headquarters of Cisco Systems, Inc., in Silicon Valley, San Jose, Calif.
By Jon Fortt, CNBC

Cisco Systems (CSCO) turned in a solid report: beats on revenue ($12.4 billion versus $12.14 billion expected) and earnings (55 cents versus 53 cents). 

Revenue guidance was solid, though EPS was a little light. Gross margins held up.


So why the angst?


Beyond the headline numbers Wednesday, there was plenty of signs of turbulence. Cisco's sales in emerging markets were down, and CEO John Chambers said they won't return to growth for several quarters. And there are the layoffs: 6,000 more coming soon, wiping out 8 percent of Cisco's already reduced workforce.

 

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[BRIEFING.COM] Equity indices remain near their recent levels with the S&P 500 (-0.1%) hovering below its flat line.

Countercyclical sectors displayed early strength, but two of those groups have since slipped behind the broader market. Telecom services (-0.5%) and utilities (-0.5%) are now among the laggards, while consumer staples (unch) and health care (+0.1%) trade a bit ahead of the S&P 500.

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