The most likely scenario is that the markets will begin to rise from here -- and that bounce is just beginning to take hold.
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We're better off than we were 3 years ago, though it may not feel like it.
Jeez, these Armageddons seem like a dime a dozen. And that's the real problem: Armageddons aren't sold a dozen by the dime. They are sold very rarely. We should know it -- we lived through one just a couple short years ago.
Here's the problem, though. We have learned the wrong lesson. We have learned that every single crisis is the paramount crisis. That every single woe is the death rattle. That the sky not only falls but falls hard and takes all of us chickens with it.
Here's what we should have learned. You can almost blow up the western financial world. You can almost nationalize every single bank. You can almost destroy capitalism. We almost did. We can scorn Bernanke and Geithner and criticize them for 9% unemployment. But I think we should have and could have had 25% unemployment. I think we could have had a depression.
Italy is the world's third-biggest debtor after the US and Japan. That fact, along with the country's deficit, makes many bondholders nervous.
The upscale grocer appeals to niche consumers who are well on their way to economic revival. Goldman Sachs has added the stock to its list of picks.
As the recession lingers, a grocer nicknamed "Whole Paycheck" shouldn't be doing well. But Whole Foods Market (WFMI) is on fire, with shares up an astonishing 70% in the past year.
And now Goldman Sachs (GS) has added the stock to its Conviction List. Analyst Stephen Grambling thinks sales and profits will come in better than management has forecast for 2011.
Those beats will come in as the chain expands, Grambling says. He set a $76 target on the stock, which is about 18% higher than Monday's price.
So why is Whole Foods doing so well in this time of high unemployment and economic turmoil? The grocer is capitalizing on a growing divide in this country between the well-to-do and the middle- to low-income households. Wal-Mart (WMT) shoppers are still living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to make ends meet and shopping at dollar stores when they can.
Even dollar-store customers are staying away from unnecessary items, and the slowdown in showing in company earnings.
This became evident at Target (TGT) and Wal-Mart (WMT) in the recession as those stores saw customers pass up furniture and sporting goods in favor of basic must-haves like toilet paper and cereal.
Now even dollar stores are seeing the end of the splurge. Sales and profits aren't growing as fast anymore, The Wall Street Journal reports. Shoppers are no longer buying even the cheap toys and home decorative items.
With high gas prices and high unemployment on their minds, shoppers are sticking to food, cleaning supplies and other necessities. Those products have lower margins, and as a result, investors are seeing missed quarterly earnings from Dollar General (DG), Family Dollar Stores (FDO) and Dollar Tree (DLTR).
The search giant's answer to Facebook is gaining users quickly.
By Scott Moritz, TheStreet
Ripples of invites launched during the Google+ field trials have built rapidly expanding waves of sign-ups across the broader online population. In other words, everybody's doing it -- or will be soon.
Blogger Paul Allen estimates the number Google+ users, as of Sunday, has nearly tripled to 4.7 million from 1.7 at the beginning of last week. Allen expects to update his estimate Monday.
But so what? Google has a product that could be as big as Gmail. Does that mean success on any level other than popularity in the blogosphere?
The company is said to be looking for another manufacturer to help build its next tablet.
By James Rogers, TheStreet
Faced with massive demand for its next-generation iPad, Apple (APPL) is looking for an additional contract manufacturer to help build the device, according to the DigiTimes Web site. Taiwan companies Quanta Computer and Pegatron Technology are in the frame, it said.
Citing industry sources in Taiwan, DigiTimes reports that Pegatron stands a better chance of winning the potentially lucrative iPad orders. Previously, Apple used just one manufacturer, Foxconn, to build its iconic tablet, but a recent explosion at the company's plant in Chengdu, China, has sent the gadget maker looking for an additional contractor.
Rumors have also been swirling for some time that Apple is tightening its relationship with Pegatron. Earlier this month, DigiTimes said Apple had ordered Pegatron to begin production of 15 million new iPhones for a September sales launch.
Despite low valuations, Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan are sucker's bets.
Strong quarterly results from JPMorgan and Citigroup could help the SPDR KBW Banks ETF. For Google exposure, consider First Trust Dow Jones Internet Fund.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
Here are five exchange-traded funds to watch this week.
Earnings season kicks off this week with aluminum giant Alcoa (AA) scheduled to announce its quarterly performance and outlook after the bell. A number of companies will follow suit, providing investors with insight into the state of the U.S. and global economic recoveries.
Financials will be of particular interest among earnings watchers during the latter half of the week when JPMorgan (JPM) and Citigroup (C) step up to the plate. These two rank as the first- and second-largest KBE components and together account for 15% of its index.
It's hard to pull the trigger on what appears to be a crowded trade, but these energy stocks are poised for ongoing earnings growth and greater gains.
By Jake Lynch, TheStreet
Chevron (CVX) and larger rival Exxon Mobil (XOM) delivered record profits in 2008, following crude's meteoric rise to $147 a barrel. We may be in the midst of another energy bull market as oil has retained a foothold above $90 and is enjoying support amid improving global demand fundamentals.
Chevron is scheduled to report second-quarter results Tuesday. The company's stock has advanced 15% in 2011 and 50% in the past 12 months as the commodities boom widened the company's profit margins, bolstering net income. Chevron's first-quarter pre-tax margin, at nearly 20%, ranked in the 73rd industry percentile. Return on equity, the critical measure of profitability for stockholders, was outstanding, at 20%.
Earnings will need to impress investors to keep stocks moving higher.
A weaker-than-expected jobs report Friday took some of the steam out of the pre-earnings rally, but the market rebounded at the close, limiting the damage. The market finished the week with a small gain.
Earlier in the weak, economic data supported bigger gains as the market waited for corporate profits to roll in. Investors won't have to wait much longer, as earnings season begins in earnest this week with a report from Alcoa (AA) after the close of trading Monday.
After Alcoa (AA), a whole host of companies are set to report results. The big-name report this week comes from Google (GOOG). The technology bellwether will give us a read on the overall health of the economy.
I expect a strong report. ETF buyers should keep the pedal to the metal this week with the iShares S&P North America Technology and Multimedia Fund (IGN).
Italy is the latest dire debt story being used to stir up fear amid what should be a decent earnings season.
Substitute Italy for Greece and replay the whole thing? Is that the plan for folks who need the market lower?
Start pumping up the credit default swaps like last time? And the time before? And the time before that? Get everyone frightened, including the ratings agencies? Make sure everyone knows that Italian bonds are really so overvalued that they have to be restructured and you simply can't own them?
Why not? If it worked before, why not again? You can do this for every country on earth save maybe Germany and France, and definitely not China. It's too lucrative not to do.
Of course, it helps that the current backdrop of stalled employment growth and politicians struggling over debt ceilings allows the negativity to come center stage. A deal to take over Arch Chemicals (ARJ), the only good news here today, certainly can't counteract the gloom. Not to mention China's inflation figures, which are particularly egregious, just when they are supposed to be peaking.
If inflation hits, companies with economic moats should be prepared.
The Federal Reserve's second -- and perhaps final -- round of quantitative easing has ended, and some Congressional leaders continue to talk tough on deficit reduction. But make no mistake: The U.S. is still far from a state of conservative fiscal and monetary policy. Interest rates remain near zero, and, for all of the deficit-reduction talk, many of the cuts being proposed by various politicians only scratch the surface of our $1.4 trillion annual shortfall.
That climate and other factors have many top strategists saying that significant inflation will finally hit the U.S. economy in a big way sometime soon. Just in the past couple of weeks, hedge fund titan Carl Icahn, top-performing mutual fund manager Chuck Akre and insightful strategist Rob Arnott all said they see inflation on the horizon. Icahn says it will come as Asia's growing middle class creates competition -- and rising prices -- for commodities and finished products from that part of the world. Arnott, meanwhile, says that the U.S. will likely try to get out of its debt hole by printing more money, which will lead to an inflation spike.
Friday’s downturn should continue into next week, but technically this should be just a correction that will set up a buying opportunity.
The video service's future lies abroad.
By Anders Bylund
Shares of Netflix (NFLX) skyrocketed this week when the video maven announced an ambitious international expansion plan. By the end of 2011, Netflix plans to sell digital streaming plans in 43 new nations across the Americas and the Caribbean.
The expansion itself surprised no one, but the grand scale of the rollout -- or, perhaps, its pace -- did raise some eyebrows.
The fast and the furious
Netflix had already signaled plans to go nearly worldwide with its digital services. Recent job postings looking for customer support personnel fluent in Brazilian Portuguese and Latin American Spanish tipped off the pan-American move, but also gave us clues to Netflix's next phase.
The head of Berkshire Hathaway says he has a great plan: Tie lawmakers' political futures to the deficit.
"I could end the deficit in 5 minutes," he told Becky Quick. "You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election."
They don't call him the Oracle for nothin'. Warren also had some rather harsh words for Republicans digging in their heels on the debt issue. We raised the debt ceiling seven times during the administration of President George W. Bush, Buffett said. But now it's become a hostage. You can hear more from Buffett in the following video interview.
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Serious issues like drought and the deterioration of the developed world spell opportunity for this industry leader.
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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market ended the holiday-shortened week on a mixed note as the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.1%, while the S&P 500 added 0.1% with seven sectors posting gains.
Equity indices faced an uphill climb from the opening bell after disappointing quarterly results from Google (GOOG 536.10, -20.44) and IBM (IBM 190.04, -6.36) weighed on the early sentiment. Google reported earnings $0.15 below the Capital IQ consensus estimate on revenue of $15.42 ... More
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