8 reasons the market isn't worse
8 reasons the market isn't worse

Stocks should be crushed by global turmoil, Jim Cramer says. Instead, they're doing fine.


Tighter regulations and the end of a lengthy bull market in bonds have changed the landscape forever.

By MSN Money Partner 42 minutes ago
Credit: © Tetra Images/Getty Images

Caption: Empty trading desks with computers and phonesBy Howard Gold, MarketWatch

The signs are everywhere on Wall Street. Trading floors that once buzzed with noise and energy are now as silent as cathedrals. Big firms that reaped huge profits from trading stocks, bonds, commodities and currencies are turning to staid money management to boost earnings.

What once was the main event is now just a sideshow. 

There are many fewer traders now, and they're making much less money. And there are going to be even fewer very, very soon. With one big exception I'll discuss later, trading is dying.

And it's not just stock trading, where volumes are slightly more than half of what they were five years ago. Fixed income, currencies and commodities trading (FICC), Wall Street's huge profit driver of the 2000s, is in deep, deep trouble.


The company hasn't revealed the iPhone 6 launch timeline, and its outlook is meaningless in terms of projecting demand for the device.

By MSN Money Partner 1 hour ago
Credit: © George Rose/Getty Images
Caption: The exterior of the downtown Apple Store in Central Hong Kong is viewed on May 27, 2014, in Hong Kong, ChinaBy Adam Levine-Weinberg, The Motley Fool

On Tuesday afternoon, Apple (AAPL) reported solid earnings for the third quarter of its 2014 fiscal year. Generally, investors have a tendency to look past earnings numbers for the seasonally weak June quarter, instead focusing on guidance for the upcoming quarter.

On one level, this makes sense, as Apple has released new iPhones during the September quarter for the last two years -- and is expected to do so again in 2014. 

However, Apple's Q4 guidance is meaningless in terms of projecting demand for new products like the iPhone 6. Investors would be better off ignoring the guidance and waiting for more solid information.

Tags: AAPL

Facebook's stock needs to hit a certain dollar amount for its young CEO to gain the title.

By MSN Money Partner 2 hours ago
Credit: © Robert Galbraith/Reuters

Caption: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addresses at Facebook's f8 developers conference in San Francisco, Calif. April 30, 2014By Jay Yarow, Business Insider

We doubt this is Mark Zuckerberg's goal in life, but if he wants to be the richest man in the world, Facebook's stock has to go to $200. 

We got that number from Bloomberg wealth reporter David de Jong on Twitter

He says at $200 Zuckerberg (pictured) would overtake Bill Gates as the world's richest person -- assuming all things stay the same as they are now. (De Jong was responding to a tweet from NYT columnist Farhad Manjoo.)

Facebook's (FB) stock is trading at around $76 Thursday, so it needs to almost triple. Facebook's current market cap is $195.4 billion. If the stock went to $200, Facebook would be worth over $500 billion. For some comparison, Apple (AAPL) is currently valued at $580 billion. 

Can Facebook do it? Can it reach $500+ billion? 


The company offered 1-cent bargains to win a NY state contract, but pulled back as orders flooded in. 'People were going hog wild,' says a school district official.

By MSN Money Partner 3 hours ago
Credit: © Paul Sakuma/AP

Caption: Paper clips are seen on display for sale at a Staples store in Menlo Park, Calif.By Mark Maremont, The Wall Street Journal

Staples (SPLS) made the State of New York quite a promise: Buy your office supplies from us, and we'll sell you a bunch of things for a penny apiece. This unleashed a rush on the retailer as government offices and qualifying organizations across the state gobbled up the one-cent items.

A Brooklyn charity benefiting disabled people ordered 240,000 boxes of facial tissue and 48,000 rolls of paper towels, according to documents obtained in a public-records request. Rome, N.Y., wanted 100,000 CD-Rs. A State Department of Motor Vehicles office ordered 8,000 rolls of packaging tape.

"We ordered things we didn't even need," said Nancy Sitone, manager of office services at United Cerebral Palsy Association of Greater Suffolk Inc. "I have some products up the yin-yang."

Tags: SPLS

The country may be nearing a crucial turning point, economists say.

By MSN Money Partner 3 hours ago
Image: Worried couple © Digital Vision, Getty ImagesBy Everett Rosenfeld, CNBC

The U.S. economy has churned out some pretty encouraging news lately, but plenty of skeptical Americans still have much anxiety about this recovery.

Major questions remain about certain aspects of the health of the economy, including stagnant wage growth, unemployment and corporate taxes.

After some weak numbers at the beginning of the year, the U.S. economy may be nearing a crucial turning point, economists told CNBC.

"The economy is mediocre," said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors. "But it's getting better by the month."

A Gallup poll from July found that Americans are less worried about unemployment and jobs issues in the U.S. than in previous months, although 14 percent still said they think it is the most important problem facing the country.


Specialty apparel is doing incredibly well, with fantastic growth and terrific gross margins.

By Jim Cramer 4 hours ago

Under Armour shoes worn by players on the Northwestern Wildcats © Matthew Holst/Getty ImagesYou want to hear the nuttiest idea yet? You know what group is doing incredibly well, with fantastic growth and terrific gross margins?

It's specialty apparel -- namely, Skechers (SKX), Under Armour (UA), Carter's (CRI) and Hanesbrands (HBI).

Skechers has been doing so well, with all new lines of footwear and terrific promotion. The stock is still way too cheap.

TheStreet.com logoAs for Under Armour, a heavily shorted technology stock that happens to be in the apparel industry, management has highlighted that it is doing well in footwear and in international sales. There isn't anything this company isn't doing well. The direct-to-consumer service is amazing. The gross margin is terrific. The stores are amazing. This is a momentum stock that has much further to go.


The social media company is hitting all-time highs Thursday and it's largely due to strong mobile advertising.

By TheStreet.com Staff 4 hours ago

An Apple iPhone4s displaying the stock exchange app in front of a computer screen with the Facebook logo © Jan-Philipp/dpa/CorbisBy Chris Ciaccia, TheStreet

The biggest takeaway from Facebook's (FB) earnings is that its mobile advertising efforts are much stronger than anticipated, allowing it to generate margins other companies could only hope to dream about.

Facebook's margins on earnings before interest taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, were 67.7 percent, significantly higher than what Wall Street was expecting, as the company's mobile ads are simply more effective than anything else out there right now. On the earnings call, COO Sheryl Sandberg said it's not just mobile app install ads that are driving the results; it's everything.

"Our mobile ads revenue is pretty, it's broad based," Sandberg said on the earnings call. She noted that the company has not only large brand advertisers, but small businesses, direct response advertisers, as well as developers using mobile ads. Sandberg did note that mobile app install ads "remain a good part of our mobile ads revenue and we're excited about the opportunities there," but it's clear that the company is focusing on more than just installing apps, be it from developers or corporations.


You have nearly an equal chance of being hit by lightning as finding a fund that is a top performer for 5 straight years.

By MSN Money Partner 4 hours ago
Image: Mutual funds © ThinkStock/SuperStockBy Mitchell Tuchman, MarketWatch

Do you know someone who has been hit by lightning? Do you know anyone who knows anyone who has been hit by lightning?

Exceedingly unlikely, right? But it turns out to be roughly the same chance as knowing someone -- anyone -- whose mutual fund consistently stays ahead of the pack.

Put another way, your chances of buying a hot fund and watching it immediately lag are pretty darned high. Close to guaranteed.

This fact shouldn't surprise anyone. A study by S&P Dow Jones Indices, reported in The New York Times, showed that just two funds out of 2,862 managed to be in the top quartile of performers for five consecutive years.

The two funds in question -- the Hodges Small Cap (HDPSX) and the AMG SouthernSun Small Cap (SSSFX) were small-cap funds (also not surprising), but SouthernSun is closed to new investors. So you're down to one choice out of 2,862. Your chances of being hit by lightning in your lifetime, meanwhile, comes in at 1 in 3,000.


The sector has been on a tear, but selling pressure is mounting.

By InvestorPlace 4 hours ago

Image: Circuit Board © Datacraft Co Ltd, imagenavi, Getty ImagesBy Anthony Mirhaydari

One of the leading sector groups over the last few months has been semiconductor stocks.

Excitement over the "Internet of things" as well as indications that moribund PC sales seem to be stabilizing thanks to Microsoft's (MSFT) dropping of Windows XP support -- resulting in a forced upgrade cycle for many users -- have pushed the sector into a near-vertical trajectory since breaking out three months ago. (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)

Since the beginning of May, the Market Vectors Semiconductors (SMH) is up more than 14 percent versus a 5.5 percent gain for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX).

But the sector has lost some momentum so far this month, with selling pressure intensifying as a surge of negative volume undercuts the sector's upward momentum. After such an exciting rise, there is evidence that a pullback looms.


4 analysts downgrade the stock the day after a disappointing quarterly report.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 3:48 PM
Caption: A sign stands outside of a McDonald's restaurant in San Francisco
Credit: © Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesBy Andria Cheng, MarketWatch

Consumers have been abandoning McDonald's (MCD) by not eating out as much or instead patronizing rivals like Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG). Now, analysts, too, have soured on the company's stock.

Four analysts downgraded the company's stock on Wednesday, a day after the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company posted a disappointing second-quarter profit and full-year outlook amid a continued sales slowdown in the key markets of the U.S., Germany, Japan and Australia.

"The deteriorating fundamentals increase the likelihood of activist involvement," said Rachael Rothman, an analyst at Susquehanna Financial. She said the company's turnaround is taking longer than she expected and downgraded the stock to neutral from positive.

While McDonald’s Chief Executive Don Thompson evoked a sense of urgency on a conference call Tuesday, Wall Street said substantial improvement in sales and customer visits likely won't come any time soon. Meanwhile, the company is facing cost pressures, including higher prices for meat and other items.


In the context of recent history, the precious metal is at a low point as the market for equities has soared.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 2:46 PM
Hundred dollar bills surrounded by gold © Anthony Bradshaw, PhotographerBy Elizabeth MacBride, CNBC

Gold prices rose again last week on news of the downing of Malaysia Air Flight MH17, the latest in a series of geopolitical shocks that have sent the price of the precious metal up this year.

The price of gold rose 4 percent in the year preceding July 17. On news that the airliner had been shot down over Ukraine, it rose 1.2 percent to $1,315 per ounce, according to Morningstar data based on the London Fix. (It's since fallen a little as investors have started taking profits.)

The volatility is a sign of the most fundamental fact about gold. It is possibly the most emotionally driven asset class -- the refuge of apocalyptic worriers, as well as of serious traders who look at it as a portfolio diversifier and alternative to paper currency.

"You cannot discount the psychosis that exists around gold," said Ben Johnson, Morningstar's director of manager research for passive strategies. "We call it the oldest continuous 2,000-year-old investment bubble around here."


The social media company has seen strong revenue bumps lately, but it's also managed to cut costs in a unique way.

By TheStreet.com Staff Wed 2:39 PM

A magnifying glass is posed over a monitor displaying a Facebook © Joerg Koch/APBy Chris Ciaccia, TheStreet

Though Facebook's (FB) advertising business is growing like weeds in an untended garden, the social media company's lower profile Open Compute Project is proving to be a genuine windfall for shareholders, having saved more than $1.2 billion over the past three years, according to sources close to the situation.

Facebook's Open Compute Project, which the company first implemented in April 2011, has focused not only on the tremendous amount of data it consumes and analyzes, but has helped increased overall energy efficiency while cutting costs. Facebook operates data centers in Prineville, OR., Forest City, N.C., Lulea, Sweden and is currently in the process of building one in Altoona, Iowa. 


Sheldon Lavin's company is the parent of the Chinese entity under investigation by Shanghai authorities for using expired meat.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 1:48 PM
Credit: © STF/AFP/Getty Images
Caption: This picture taken on July 20, 2014 shows workers producing food at the Shanghai Husi Food Co., a factory of US food provider OSI Group, in ShanghaiBy Abram Brown, Forbes

The ruckus over expired meat in fast-food restaurants in China has placed a little-known Illinois company in the spotlight -- along with its wealthy chairman and chief executive Sheldon Lavin.

Chains like McDonald's (MCD), Yum Brands' (YUM) KFC, Burger King (BKW) and Starbucks (SBUX) have admitted to using expired meat from Shanghai Husi Food following an investigation by Shanghai authorities. Husi Food managers said they were "appalled."

"Our company management believes this to be an isolated event, but takes full responsibility for the situation and will take appropriate actions swiftly and comprehensively," the company said a press release.


DR Horton, Meritage Homes and PulteGroup are expected to post results Thursday morning.

By Benzinga Wed 1:18 PM

Image: Home under construction © CorbisBy Nelson Hem

The earnings crunch is well underway, and leading homebuilders D.R. Horton (DHI), Meritage Homes (MTH) and PulteGroup (PHM) will be taking their turns in the earnings spotlight Thursday before the markets open.

KB Home (KBH) and Lennar (LEN) posted better-than-expected results in late June on higher home prices and strong demand. Investors will be looking for rising homebuilder confidence, as measured by the National Association of Home Builders, to portend good news on earnings and sales.

D.R. Horton

Analysts on average predict that this builder will report that revenue for the fiscal third quarter rose almost 28 percent year-over-year to $2.08 billion. Earnings of $0.49 per share are also in the consensus forecast. That would be up from a reported profit of just $0.42 per share in the comparable period of last year. 

The federal government is pushing sweeping new rules to upgrade safety for trains carrying flammable liquids.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 12:40 PM
Credit: © Jim West/Alamy

Caption: Rail tank cars transport oil produced in the Bakken shale fieldBy Russell Gold, The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. government wants to phase out thousands of railroad tank cars that carry crude oil and ethanol within two years, as part of proposed rules to upgrade safety for trains carrying flammable fuels.

Tens of thousands of these older DOT-111 tank cars will have to be replaced or retrofitted under the proposed rules, expected to be announced Wednesday. That is a faster deadline than Canada's three-year timeline to upgrade or phase out the railcars used to carry oil, ethanol and other hazardous liquids.

The federal government's proposals are sweeping and will change how flammable liquids are transported by rail in North America, but they aren't as stringent as some in the rail and energy industry feared. The Wall Street Journal has reviewed a description of the new requirements, which the U.S. Transportation Department is expected to detail on Wednesday.



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Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.

Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.

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Market index data delayed by 15 minutes

[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market maintained a narrow trading range on Thursday before ending the session essentially where it began. The S&P 500 added less than a point, while the small-cap Russell 2000 (-0.2%) underperformed.

Equity indices displayed early strength thanks in part to an overnight boost from better than expected economic data in China and Europe. Specifically, China's HSBC Manufacturing PMI surged to an 18-month high (52.0 from 50.7), while Eurozone Manufacturing PMI ... More


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