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Number of homes under contract for sale is at highest level in a year and a half.

By Benzinga Dec 29, 2011 4:20PM

Image: Couple with For Sale sign in front of house (© Jupiterimages/Brand X/Getty Images)By Jay Wong and Abhi Rao, Benzinga staff writers


The National Association of Realtors reported Thursday that U.S. pending home sales rose 7.3% in November. This is the highest level of homes in contract in a year and a half. A Bloomberg survey forecast that November growth would only be 1.5%.


Consumers were buoyed by home prices and interest rates that have continued to remain low. The housing industry has shown signs of life as construction in new homes have increased and more have been purchased.


As the inventory of unsold new homes decreases, manufacturers of homes could see increased demand. The positive report affected several companies in Thursday's market, including PulteGroup (PHM) and KB Home (KBH).

 

The new slate of picks is almost ready, but what does it mean for the coming year?

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Dec 29, 2011 4:01PM
By Dan Caplinger

 

Everyone likes a simple investing strategy. If you like dividends, there's just about nothing simpler than the following the Dogs of the Dow. But will buying these stocks help you beat the Dow Jones Industrials in 2012, or will the strategy come back to bite you with bad returns?

 

I'll give you my answer to that question later in this article. But first, let's make sure everyone's up to speed with what the Dogs of the Dow strategy actually is.

 

Hollywood is fretting over a drop in audience numbers and ticket revenue. Will 2012 be any better?

By Kim Peterson Dec 29, 2011 3:47PM
Image: Hollywood (© Comstock/SuperStock)This year was a bust for Hollywood.

Movie crowds fell to a 16-year low in 2011. The number of tickets sold is expected to drop 4.4% this year to about 1.28 billion, the Associated Press reports. The price of tickets is higher this year, so the domestic revenue decline was only about 3.5% to $10.2 billion.

Worrisome numbers for studios such as Warner Bros., a subsidiary of Time Warner (TWX), and for theater owners, such as Regal Entertainment Group (RGC). 

The coatings company hopes the investment will boost sales in fast-growing markets in Asia.

By Zacks.com Dec 29, 2011 2:35PM

Image: China (© Brand X/SuperStock)By: Zacks Equity Research

 

Valspar Corp. (VAL) has opened a new science center in Shunde, China, and says the facility will employ more than 200 scientists to support growth in the Asia Pacific region and research and development efforts worldwide.


The Minneapolis coating company launched the Valspar Applied Science and Technology Center with a grand opening that drew more than 400 guests. This facility aims to improve relationships in the Asia Pacific region by bringing the company closer to its customers.

 

The fashion for dividend stocks is drawing some sniping from the sidelines.

By MoneyShow.com Dec 29, 2011 2:06PM

Image: Shoebox of money (© Jonathan Kitchen/Getty Images/Getty Images)By Igor Greenwald, MoneyShow.com


There are no atheists in foxholes, they say. And also, they should add, no doctrinal disputes like those between the last adherents of the same small, dying religion.


Stocks have certainly been through a lot this year. And now the few brave souls who haven’t sought safety in cash or capital appreciation in bonds are arguing over exactly what sort of stock won’t stab them in the back.

 

Investors have been talking about dividends all year, and the blue-chip winners reflect that appetite for income.

By The Fiscal Times Dec 29, 2011 1:51PM

McDonaldBy Suzanne McGee, The Fiscal Times

 

It looks increasingly as if 2011 will go down as the year of two stock indexes.

 

As of Wednesday's market close, the S&P 500 had wiped out the last of its remaining gains and again had fallen into the red for 2011. Still, despite a similar retreat in Dow Jones Industrial Average, it remains 5% higher for the year.

 

Investors can gain a keen perspective on long-term trends by stepping back to the yearly time frame.

By MoneyShow.com Dec 29, 2011 1:48PM

By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com


As we end 2011, most investors and analysts are looking ahead into 2012 in an effort to position their portfolios for the coming year. Though I mostly concentrate on the monthly, weekly, and daily charts, I have also found it helpful to examine quarterly and yearly time frames.


From the yearly charts, we can find some valuable information that can be used not only to gain perspective for the year ahead, but also to identify some key support and resistance levels for 2012.

 

Tried-and-true fundamental and technical gauges point to continuing strength.

By MoneyShow.com Dec 29, 2011 1:44PM

By Kate Stalter, MoneyShow.com


As 2011 winds down, there are some growth stocks well positioned for gains in the new year. Higher beta names as well as smaller stocks have fallen out of favor recently, and the Nasdaq Composite and Russell 2000 are trailing the benchmark S&P 500.


It's not unusual for growth stocks to underperform the broader market during a downturn -- they also outperform in a market rally. But individual stocks that outpace the indexes in times of weakness are often poised for further gains.

 

The company, which makes customized computer systems, recently offered shareholders a one-time dividend.

By Zacks.com Dec 29, 2011 1:43PM

By: Brian Bolan - Zacks Equity Research


In the most recent quarter, PC Connection (PCCC) beat earnings for the seventh straight time. Analysts responded by moving estimates higher for the stock, which is a Zacks No. 1 rank (strong buy).


PC Connection operates under several companies that offer custom-configured computer systems to individuals as well as government agencies and businesses.

 

As more confident U.S. consumers hit the showrooms, dividend-paying automaker is once again a bargain.

By TheStockAdvisors Dec 29, 2011 1:34PM
Image: Traffic (© Pixtal/SuperStock)This post is one in a series in which over 50 newsletter advisors share their Top Picks for 2012.  

By Nicholas Vardy, Bull Market Alert

Our top pick is all-American stalwart and success story Ford Motor (F) -- a bet on the American consumer and the burgeoning U.S. economic recovery.
 
Tags: F

The innovative mobile gaming company has room to run.

By InvestorPlace Dec 29, 2011 10:30AM
By Tom Taulli

 

Cantor Fitzgerald has been at the cutting edge of innovation in the financial industry, especially with electronic bond trading. The company owns more than 250 U.S. and foreign patents on real-time, secure technology systems.


However, the company's technology turned out to be useful in other applications -- specifically, online gambling. Back in 2006, Cantor built a new company -- Cantor Entertainment Technology -- to pursue this goal, and it recently filed to go public.

 

Gold has chalked up gains every year over the past decade -- a claim few other investments can make.

By TheStockAdvisors Dec 29, 2011 9:37AM
 Image: Small Stack of gold ingots (© Anthony Bradshaw/Photographer)
This post is one in a series in which over 50 newsletter advisors share their Top Picks for 2012

By Mary Anne & Pamela Aden, The Aden Forecast

Our top pick for 2012 is gold. It has been the best investment year after year, and it's still the best performer.
 
Tags: GLDgold

Can Google's new service make the social networking site obsolete?

By Benzinga Dec 28, 2011 5:25PM

Image: African-American woman shopping online (© Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Getty Images)By Tuomo Kallio, Benzinga Staff Writer


About 625,000 new users join Google's (GOOG) social network, Google+, every day, according to Bloomberg. At this rate, the service will have 400 million users by the end of 2012, which would make it a serious competitor for Facebook.


Ancestry.com co-founder Paul Allen posted a note Tuesday saying that he expects the number of Google+ users to grow, as more and more people are using Android smartphones.

 

While the office supplier is sensitive to economic activity, investors overreacted in dumping the stock.

By TheStockAdvisors Dec 28, 2011 4:57PM
Image: Shredder (© James Darell/Getty Images)This post is one in a series in which over 50 newsletter advisors share their Top Picks for 2012

By George Putnam, The Turnaround Letter

One of our favorite stocks for 2012 is OfficeMax (OMX), a leading seller of office products in both the business-to-business and retail channels.   
Tags: OMX

Buy out Netflix? EA? Never.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Dec 28, 2011 4:46PM

By Evan Niu

 

It's no secret: Apple (AAPL) is loaded.

 

Over the years, it has been steadily growing its cash hoard, and inevitably the discussion leads to the same question: What should Cupertino do with its mountain of money? The two most popular suggestions are always a dividend and ginormous acquisitions. The Mac maker now has $81.6 billion in cash and investments sitting on the balance sheet, and that doesn't include long-term marketable securities of $55.6 billion, which are generally included in Apple's cash-equivalent figures.

 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The headlines generally favored Tuesday being another good day for the stock market.  Instead, it was just a mixed day with modest point changes on either side of the unchanged mark for the major indices.

For the most part, the stock market was a sideshow.  The main trading events were seen in the commodity and Treasury markets, both of which saw some decent-sized losses within their respective complex.

Dollar strength was at the heart of the weakness in ... More


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