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Get your defensive plan ready

Indexes might not be in correction territory, but they're getting closer. Now's the time to consider what moves to make.

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

With higher rates on the horizon, investors are about to get schooled in the nuances of this class.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 2:20 PM
U.S. savings bonds © Corbis, SuperStock By Shelly Schwartz, CNBC

For the last 20 years, it didn't particularly matter whether you owned U.S. bond funds or individual bonds.


Fueled by falling interest rates, they both delivered consistent income and a counterbalance to equity market volatility. No wonder the market grew faster than the domestic economy and tripled in size to just under $37 trillion.


But with higher rates on the horizon and the Federal Reserve slowly reducing the pace of its quantitative easing measures, investors are about to get schooled in just how different these securities can be. For financial advisors who have experienced only a bond market rally in their careers, this promises to be an eye-opener.

 

The program starts with $2,000 the first year and rises by $1,000 a year. Why? So only motivated employees stay.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 1:29 PM
Credit: © Rick Wilking

Caption: Boxes from Amazon.com are pictured on the porch of a houseBy Jim Edwards, Business Insider

Here's our favorite part of Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos' annual letter to shareholders

He describes how the company will pay Amazon's warehouse workers up to $5,000 to quit their jobs.

The intent of the program is to ensure that Amazon retains only people who really, really want to work at Amazon.

 
Tags: AMZN

Instead of moving away from sugary drinks, the beverage maker decides to boost advertising.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 1:00 PM
By MCaption: An employee arranges bottles of Coca-Cola at a store in Alexandria, Va.
Credit: © Kevin Lamarque/Reutersike Esterl, The Wall Street Journal


For 13 years running, Americans have been drinking less Coke. Now Diet Coke sales are falling off a cliff. Globally, sales growth of soda is slowing amid concerns about sugar intake and obesity.


The trends are industrywide, but it is especially bad news for Coca-Cola (KO), a company that derives almost 75 percent of its global sales volume from carbonated soft drinks.


"Sugar water with bubbles is not the future of the world. There's an existential issue,'' said Tom Pirko, an industry consultant at Bevmark LLC.


A growing number of industry analysts suggest Coca-Cola should spend less to advertise cola and more to diversify aggressively through acquisitions of companies, like energy-drink maker Monster Beverage (MNST). Sales of Coke's nonsodas, including Minute Maid juice, Dasani water and Powerade sports drinks, rose 5 percent last year by volume.

 
Tags: KOMNSTPEP

As folks fear their own shadows these days, Jamie Dimon's incisive words should urge you to take more risk.

By Jim Cramer Thu 11:35 AM

Businessman scared of his shadow © 237/Martin Barraud/Ocean/Corbis"It seems that just about everyone has become a risk expert and sees risk behind every rock. They don't want to miss it -- like they did in 2008. They want to be able to say 'I told you so.' And therefore they identify everything as risky."


That gem, one of many you can glean from JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon's annual letter, is meant to describe banking in America and in the world today.


However, it might as well have been meant for people who invest in the stock and bond markets these days.


TheStreet.com logoDimon's letter is chiefly about the post-recession landscape and how it has changed us -- or, more accurately, scarred us. Although he simply can't bring himself to say it, the massive and greedy screw-ups by businesses, particularly on the part of bankers, have led to a backlash against capital.

 

The Whopper maker is planning a move into the Black Sea peninsula, upping its game in a heated fast-food rivalry.

By The Week Thu 11:29 AM

A Burger King Whopper hamburger and French fries (© Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)Just a few weeks after McDonald's (MCD) announced it was shuttering its Crimea locations for "manufacturing reasons," Burger King (BKW) is reportedly eyeing a move into the Black Sea peninsula.


The Whopper maker is still deciding how many locations to open in the newly annexed Russian territory, where it currently has none.


"We are planning entry to Crimea, but I cannot say when this will happen," said CEO of Burger King Russia Dmitry Medovy to local media.


He added that the company is already actively searching for restaurant locations.

 
Tags: BKWMCD

The company is putting $2 billion into the effort, its largest renewable investment anywhere on the planet.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 10:39 AM
File photo of wind turbines (© Thomas Northcut/Lifesize/Getty Images)By Peter Kelly-Detwiler, Forbes

Ikea announced Thursday morning that it is buying its first wind farm in the United States, a 98 MW wind project in Hoopestown, Ill., approximately 110 miles south of Chicago.  

This purchase represents the single largest renewable investment made by Ikea anywhere on the planet, and gets the company closer to its goal of being net zero (producing as much as it consumes) by 2020.  The total amount of money allocated to this corporate energy effort is $2 billion.

The Hoopestown project, currently under construction and including 49 two MW Vestas turbines, will be complete by the first half of 2015.  Steve Howard, chief sustainability officer of Ikea Group, commented in a press release that "we are delighted to make this investment -- it is great for jobs, great for energy security, and great for our business. Importantly, it's great for the future of our climate."

 

These blue chips are cruising on price momentum and seasonal strength.

By InvestorPlace Thu 9:07 AM

John Deere equipment stands ready for sale
© Orlin Wagner/APBy Dan Burrows


The market opened the second quarter with such serious and extended selling that it's hard to believe there are any stocks with price momentum left.


The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) notched an all-time closing high on April 2, but since then, stocks have struggled to maintain. The broader market is off more than 2.5 percent since then, led down by high-flying momentum stocks and sectors.


Of course, it's always important for the market to bleed off some steam after an extended run. After all, it's the backfilling -- the buying by investors looking for better prices -- that sets the foundation for new highs later. And with the S&P 500 rising nearly 10 percent in about two months . . . well, it was probably time for a breather.

 
Tags: DEGISJNJ

What does the company's report say about the market bears who feared an imminent correction?

By Motley Fool Investor Beat Apr 9, 2014 6:12PM
Shares of Alcoa (AA) were up Wednesday after the company reported earnings after market close Tuesday, beating adjusted earnings per share estimates by 4 cents. As the first company to report each earnings season, many analysts look to Alcoa's report as somewhat of a bellwether for where the overall market is heading.

On Wednesday's Stock of the Day, host Erin Kennedy and Motley Fool analyst Simon Erickson take a look at the report from Alcoa. Simon breaks down for investors the strength he saw in its upstream, midstream and downstream segments, and discusses the momentum the company has behind it at the moment.  
Tags: AA

The company is directly competing with its own advertisers by offering user reviews, virtual tours and room bookings.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 9, 2014 4:41PM
Image: Couple Entering a Hotel Room © Fuse/Getty ImagesBy Rolfe Winkler and Craig Karmin, The Wall Street Journal

Google (GOOG) is moving boldly to play a larger role in booking hotel rooms -- at the risk of offending some of its most important advertisers.

Google is adding more photos and reviews to its hotel listings, so they increasingly resemble those of travel search sites such as Priceline Group (PCLN), Expedia (EXPE) and TripAdvisor (TRIP). And it is more aggressively promoting its "hotel-price ads" that post room rates directly as travel-search sites do.


The idea is to encourage travelers to plan more of their trips directly on Google. In the process Google gets them closer to making a booking, which experts expect will make referrals more valuable, prompting travel agencies and hotel operators to pay more for clicks on Google ads over time. It also encourages more hotel operators to place ads on Google directly, bypassing online travel agencies that charge commissions of up to 25 percent.

 

We may have finally seen the bottom, and now looks like the perfect time to buy into the long-term potential of this rising global powerhouse.

By StreetAuthority Apr 9, 2014 3:41PM

Image: Brazil © Donald Edwards/age fotostockBy David Sterman

At the trading desks in Sao Paolo, Brazil, you can hear a collective sigh of relief.

The country's Bovespa market index, which had fallen roughly 30 percent over the two years ended March 1, has finally reversed course.

Since early March, this index has rallied more than 10 percent to above 51,000, boosting the prospects of a range of long-suffering exchange-traded funds (ETFs).


Before you can conclude that you've missed out on this impressive mini-rally, know that these funds remain far below their multi-year averages. That last ETF, for example, the ProShares Ultra MSCI Brazil ETF (UBR), has rebounded from $32 to $48, but stood above $140 back in 2011. Most of these ETFs trade for less than half of what they traded for back then (though some were launched since then).

 

Some people might think the Oracle has lost his touch, and that's exactly when his bets pay off, the 'Mad Money' host says.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 9, 2014 3:05PM
File photo of Warren Buffett on the NBC News' 'Today' show on November 27, 2012 (© Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)By Alex Crippen, CNBC

Jim Cramer is coming to Warren Buffett's defense.


This headline in The New York Times caught Cramer's eye: "The Oracle of Omaha, lately looking a bit ordinary."


The story cited a new statistical study by Salil Mehta that compared Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A) performance to the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX).


While Buffett's (pictured) company has beaten the market in 38 of the past 48 years, it has underperformed the S&P in four of the past five years. Mehta calculates there's only a 3 percent chance Buffett is suffering through a period of bad luck.

 

Sheryl Sandberg says she has ruled out politics. 'I don't really think that's for me.'

By MSN Money Partner Apr 9, 2014 2:47PM
Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg
© Britta Pedersen/dpa/CorbisBy Reed Albergotti, The Wall Street Journal

Facebook (FB) Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg (pictured) knocked down rumors Wednesday that she might one day run for political office, and said she isn't leaving the company.

"I really love my job and I have no plans to make any changes," Sandberg said in an interview on NBC's "Todayshow.


Sandberg appeared on the show to promote her new book, "Lean In: For Graduates." The new book is an update to her wildly successful book released last year called "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead."


Lean In ignited an international debate about women in the workplace, but it also fueled rumors that Sandberg's ambitions extended beyond the corporate world and into politics. Sandberg has steadfastly denied those rumors.

 
Tags: FBGOOG

More stockholders are campaigning against public companies. A new study reveals how treacherous these situations can be.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 9, 2014 2:26PM
Carl Icahn in Oct. 2007 (© Mark Lennihan/AP Photo)By Brett Arends, MarketWatch

Company X is on its knees. The stock has been falling for years. The company's brands are tired. Its operations are inefficient. Its management is sleepy. Profits are falling. Assets are being allocated inefficiently.


Then you wake up one morning to learn that Joe E. Godzilla, the hedge-fund manager, has bought a 5 percent stake in the company and is demanding sweeping changes. He says the stock should be worth five times as much as the current price.


The stock pops 10 percent on the news. But if Mr. Godzilla is correct, there are still big profits to go for. Should you buy the stock? Is Mr. Godzilla correct?


Take a deep breath, and tread very carefully. A new, detailed study of these campaigns, even while claiming that they add value for stockholders, actually reveals just how treacherous these situations can be.

 
Tags: EBAYJCP

The operation consists of private trading platforms that give investors more anonymity than in the public markets. It's been criticized as unfair.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 9, 2014 1:59PM
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. signage is displayed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (© Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)By Bradley Hope, Justin Baer and Scott Patterson, The Wall Street Journal

Goldman Sachs (GS) is considering shutting down one of the world's largest private stock-trading venues, according to people familiar with the matter.

In conversations with market participants over the past several months, Goldman executives have broached the subject of closing its so-called dark-pool trading operation, known as Sigma X, the people said.


Goldman executives are weighing whether the revenue that the firm generates from operating Sigma X is worth the risks that have been highlighted by a series of trading glitches and growing criticism of dark pools, the people said.


No decision is imminent, and Goldman could keep the business, according to the people.

A move to shutter one of the biggest dark pools could compel other big banks to take similar steps, potentially changing the way buy and sell orders from big investors course through the markets each day.

 
Tags: GS

This dividend aristocrat has a strong yield, compelling tailwinds and a unique investment model -- and it's undervalued to boot.

By StreetAuthority Apr 9, 2014 1:31PM
Hospital beds (c) Steve Debenport/Getty ImagesBy Joseph Hogue

After two market crashes in less than two decades and the current bull market looking to take a breather, investors are rightly worried about their hard-earned gains.

By investing in companies with wide economic moats and a history of total returns to shareholders, investors can reduce the pain of the market cycle and plan for the long term.

Not only do I overweight my portfolio with these long-term investments, but I like to look at stocks that are poised benefit from huge secular changes over the decades to come -- stocks benefiting from megatrends like the American energy revolution and aging demographics.

Combine shares of a company with a great long-term track record with one of these megatrends, and you've got something truly special. 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished the Wednesday session on an upbeat note with the Nasdaq (+1.3%) ending in the lead. The S&P 500 settled higher by 1.1% with all ten sectors posting gains.

The benchmark index spent the entire trading day in the green, rallying to new highs during the last hour of action. The tech-heavy Nasdaq, meanwhile, briefly dipped into the red during morning action, but was able to recover swiftly.

Stocks began the trading day with modest gains ... More


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