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Central bankers around the world are responding to the growth slowdown with more stimulus. But the economy was already recovering.
Just when everyone was ready to leave the recovery for dead -- murdered by things like $4 gas and the loss of America's AAA credit rating -- it's starting to come back.
Recent economic data have been surprising analysts consistently to the upside. Friday's September jobs report was well above expectations, with the biggest jump the service sector since April. As a result, the Citigroup Economic Surprise Index (shown below) is about to move into positive territory for the first time since stocks were setting highs back in May. All of this reflects what I've been saying for weeks: The growth slowdown was caused by a loss of confidence, not irreparable damage to real economic activity.
But policymakers, who always operate on a lag, have been scared into action. Politicians are hamstrung by budget austerity at home and overseas, forcing central banks to take action. And boy, are they taking action, setting the stage for another low-volatility stock market rally in the months to come as cheap money floods into system already bolstered by a stronger economy.
The S&P 500 is down almost 20% from April's highs. Does that reflect reality?
By Chris Stuart, TheStreet
The benchmark S&P 500 ($INX) earlier this week almost fell into a bear market, defined as a 20% decline from peak to trough. And that's after the index of the largest U.S. companies doubled in two years. What gives?
While I myself don't dwell on bull- and bear-market cycles, it sometimes helps to take a step back to see the big picture and tune out the noise. The recently concluded bull market, at least according to some, reached a peak April 29, marking a perfect 100% increase from its start March 7, 2009. The most recent bear market, which is undisputed due to its 56% plunge, began Oct. 12, 2007 and reached a bottom March 6, 2009.
Mutual funds of all stripes have loaded up on shares of the iPhone maker over the years.
By Frank Byrt, TheStreet
The death of Apple (AAPL) co-founder and former chief executive officer Steve Jobs on Wednesday may have jostled many investors into checking on how many Apple shares they actually own.
Some will be surprised about how many they hold, given the company's ubiquity as a top holding in mutual funds, pension funds and index funds. That recognition should prompt them to reassess their own portfolios' diversity, since a concentration in one stock, or one industry, may add to volatility and reduce returns.
After a rough quarter, a sustained rally looks more likely.
These stocks' payouts provide a buffer against weak performance.
By Jeff Reeves, Editor, InvestorPlace.com
The housing market is battered, to say the least. Many investors wouldn't even dream of getting into real estate right now, no matter how low interest rates go or how far home prices have fallen since the financial crisis.
But if you think housing has nothing to offer, think again. Your best dividend investment right now could be in real estate.
With their global growth potential, McDonald's and Starbucks are strong positions for a volatile market.
The markets have been crazy, so we need to stay defensive. In this environment, I want to recommend two iconic brands.
McDonalds (MCD) and Starbucks (SBUX) both offer the broad global footprints that come with geographic diversification.
A look at the value of the US dollar in 1929 and 2008; what has changed and where that leaves us today
How did the purchasing power of the US dollar change in the Great Depression and the Crash of 2008 and what can this information tell us today, three years after the Crash of 2008?
Faced with declining viewership and escalating expenses, Fox is hinting that it wants to end TV's longest-running sitcom.
Fox wants the show for only one more season at the most -- and only then if it can get it for a 25% to 30% discount, TheWrap reports. The show is too expensive for Fox, and the six main voice actors have been asked to cut their salaries nearly in half.
If the actors and 20th Century Fox Television cannot reach a deal, then the current season of "The Simpsons" will likely be its last.
Turnaround stock specialist highlights 9 stocks that have raised their dividends every year for 25 years and offer yields of at least 3%.
Standard & Poor’s maintains an index it calls the “Dividend Aristocrats,” consisting of blue chip companies that have increased dividends every year for at least 25 consecutive years.
Since it is no mean feat to raise your dividend every year for 25 years, there is a strong presumption that these are very well-managed companies.
The protesters are making many good points.
"What do we want?" "500 different things!" "When do we want it?" "Nowish!"
Thousands of people are occupying the Wall Street area as I type this, and have been for many days. The simplest way to describe it all is that masses of people are protesting the status quo, specifically the behavior of corporate America. The message has been compelling enough to keep drawing new people, and it's spreading to cities across America and the world. But many are mocking it, or at least chuckling at it all. Fair enough. There's some cause for head-shaking. But don't write the protests off: There's a lot of truth behind them.
One criticism is that the movement has been disorganized. Well, that's not surprising, especially as it snowballs into something bigger than initially expected. Organization is happening, though, and the NYC General Assembly recently issued a "Declaration of the Occupation of New York City," listing many grievances and a few calls to action.
These stocks are poised to benefit from rising long-term demand.
As household incomes increase in emerging markets, consumers are shifting their diets from rice and other basic grains to meat and fresh produce.
This change in appetites translates into rapid demand growth for agricultural commodities over the long term. Here's a quartet of agricultural names that stand a good chance of outperforming.
The loss of Apple's co-founder at age 56 is deeply felt around the world.
Apple (AAPL) fans mourned Jobs' death in an outpouring of grief unprecedented for a corporate executive. People who had never met the man choked up and placed flowers and handwritten messages at Apple stores. Others created makeshift memorials at Apple's Northern California headquarters.
In Tokyo, fans painted messages for Jobs on red apples. At a Hong Kong vigil, people displayed a flickering candle app on their iPhones. In China, Apple users posted millions of messages on microblogging sites.
Upstarts look to swat Facebook from its lofty perch, but the social network may be its own worst enemy.
By Joe Mont, TheStreet
It must feel pretty good to be Facebook. It has some 700 million users worldwide, out-clicks the rest of the Web, including Google (GOOG) -- Google -- and buzz has even started about using Facebook as a search engine.
But there remain skeptics. Some might point to MySpace, since in 2007 an estimated one in five Americans used the site, or even to Friendster, once 100 million-strong and now with about 1.5 million users since rebranding as a gaming site (and expunging all older user profiles and content along the way).
What did in Friendster, aside from some internal politics, was failing to listen to user feedback, and to some that sounds like Facebook now.
Total assets in exchange-traded funds and notes fell below $1 trillion for the first time since January.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
Shaky market action weighed on exchange-traded products over the past month.
According to the flow data compiled by the National Stock Exchange, total ETF/ETN assets dipped by $90 billion in September, closing out the month at $972 billion. This is the first time assets have broken below the $1 trillion mark since January. September's assets marked a decline of more than $160 billion since April's peak.
Despite the overall decline in assets, the total universe of exchange-traded funds and notes continues to expand. Over the past month, 34 new products were added, bringing the total number of ETFs and ETNs to 1,335.
These drug stocks show good relative strength, a global presence, and pay sizable dividends, a highly productive recipe.
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com
The big drug companies have shown some of the best relative performance, or RS analysis, since the August lows. Equally important is that most surged with the market this week as they continued to act better than most stocks.
Of the four stocks that I have selected, all have very attractive yields that from their financials appear to be quite safe.
Another important factor, in my opinion, is a robust presence in some of the overseas markets which have the best demographics, like the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). Once the emerging economies start to expand again, these drug companies should be well positioned to profit.
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Excitement is growing about the company's new iPhone, expected this fall.
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