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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.


We needed a compromise on tax cuts and unemployment benefits for the market to go higher, and we have it. Now go grab some stocks.

By Jim Cramer Dec 7, 2010 9:11AM

jim cramerYep, this tax deal is terrific for the market. No doubt, though, someone will immediately sell on the news, saying it was "in the stock market." That it is the reason the Retail HOLDRs (RTH) is so strong or the industrials have been signaling it the whole time.


Ask the people who say this, "What is your exposure to the market? What percent net?" I am telling you that it will certainly be nowhere near 100%. Or 90%. Or 80%.


Not only is the deal good for stocks, it is bigger than even I (Mr. We Will Have a Deal) have been saying. It is truly better than expected. It is great, in particular, for the consumer-spending stocks and fantastic for gold, because it will cost the government more than $400 billion. That's what the two-year extension of the cuts and a payroll tax break will do to the budget.


The search giant ramps up its efforts to challenge Amazon.

By TheStreet Staff Dec 6, 2010 3:42PM

By James Rogers, TheStreet


Google's (GOOG) eBooks venture kicked off on Monday as the search giant ramps up its efforts to challenge Amazon (AMZN) in the digital-book market.


The Google eBookstore contains more than 3 million titles, according to a Google blog posting, and the Internet company says that it has hundreds of thousands of books for sale.


Rumors that Google was putting the finishing touches to its e-book effort emerged last week, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that the project had overcome several technical and legal hurdles.


It can be tough to give paper stock certificates, so here are some alternatives.

By Kim Peterson Dec 6, 2010 3:01PM
Christmas cash © Tetra Images/CorbisI love the idea of giving someone a stock gift for the holidays. It's an unusual present and loaded with potential. It also teaches kids some financial lessons.

But the gift of stock isn't easy to give anymore. Sometimes you can't even get the paper certificate that certifies ownership. General Motors (GM) and Visa (V) don't offer them these days, USA Today reports.

There simply aren't many good options, and the ones that do exist come with hefty fees or sound like a huge pain. But if you're really motivated, Matt Krantz of USA Today lays out some ways to give stock: 

The food company says its contract with the coffee giant is still valid and can't be ended early.

By Kim Peterson Dec 6, 2010 2:14PM
The battle between Starbucks (SBUX) and Kraft Foods (KFT) is getting nastier, and now the inevitable legal fight has begun.

At the heart of the dispute are the bags of Starbucks coffee sold at grocery stores, which, as you might guess, make a lot of money for both companies. Kraft gets the coffee from Starbucks and then markets and distributes it to stores.

The partnership brings in $500 million in sales every year and great profit margins -- perhaps as much as 20%, Reuters reports. But now Starbucks wants out of the 12-year marriage. 

It's a tough time for shopping centers and strip malls, and that means opportunity.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Dec 6, 2010 12:41PM

Real estate investing © Steve Taylor / Digital Vision / Getty ImagesIf you have any thoughts of investing in the beaten-down commercial real-estate space, we've got some advice for you. As Fool analyst Andy Louis-Charles explains, the key is not so much the horse but betting on the right jockey.


Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor


If you believe commercial real estate has bottomed out, I have a California strip mall I'd like to sell you.


No, really.


Broad-market index funds start December with a bang, and an agriculture fund offers a good option for conservative investors.

By TheStreet Staff Dec 6, 2010 10:15AM

Tools for your stock portfolio © CorbisBy Don Dion, TheStreet


Here are five exchange-traded funds to watch this week.


1.    SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY)

 Although U.S. markets stumbled in November, hindered by fears of euro debt contagion and concerns about China's steps to curb inflation, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF and other broad market index-tracking ETFs started off the final month of 2010 with a bang.


As we head into this week, it will be interesting to see if funds such as SPY, SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (DIA) and PowerShares QQQ (QQQQ) can hold onto their gains.


The lender is well-positioned to be the best repository of homes when people realize that mortgage rates are done dropping and the scramble for housing begins.

By Jim Cramer Dec 6, 2010 9:57AM

jim cramerIf Wells Fargo (WFC) takes out $29, you know what? It will be ready to roll. And I think you want to be there. Here's why.


The reportorial coverage on homes, as I have told you again and again, is very weak. Those of us who follow this industry closely and are involved in real estate are relatively amazed that the reporting is bad.


It hadn't mattered much. The stocks connected with housing had done nothing at all. Until now.


As the eurozone crisis fades, the credit-driven bull market in stocks is set to continue.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Dec 5, 2010 7:14PM

One factor that had me so worried last month was the sell-off that hit the global bond market, which pushed down the price of everything except U.S. Treasury bonds. Since the bull market in stocks is built on the foundations of a credit bull market (see my column on the subject here), this was very bad news.  


That's all changed now, and investors are returning in droves. The European Central Bank has restarted its monetary spigots, calming the eurozone bond market dramatically. Portuguese bond yields fell from 7.1% to just 5.8% last week as a country that seemed destined to follow Ireland into the eurozone bailout club got a new lease on life.


As a result, the risk trade-up theme that I outlined in my column has resumed. But not all investments will benefit equally.


Deposits that don't pay interest? Banks love 'em. And JPM has a growing stash.

By Jim J. Jubak Dec 3, 2010 2:40PM

Jim JubakWith banks, it's the spread that counts. And it looks like the turmoil in the financial markets is expanding the spread between what banks have to pay for funds and what they can charge for their loans.

That should add to bank profits in the fourth quarter. If you're looking to take advantage of that trend, look for banks with big deposit-gathering machines. My choice would be JPMorgan Chase (JPM). The stock is already a member of my Jubak's Picks portfolio

Here's how spreads work: Banks pay for funds either through interest to investors who buy their short-term commercial paper (and other debt) or in the interest paid to depositors. They then lend that money to borrowers in the form of home mortgages, small-business loans, real-estate development loans, corporate loans, whatever.


The company is willing to pay big bucks to get more in-season shows in its library.

By Kim Peterson Dec 3, 2010 2:07PM
Credit: (© Paul Sakuma/AP)
Caption: Netflix DVDLast night's episode of "The Office" is already on Hulu's website. But Netflix (NFLX) doesn't have it. In fact, all Netflix can give you is the previous season.

That's a glaring deficiency for Netflix, and the company is trying to change that. Problem is that getting current-season episodes costs a lot of dough.

The New York Post reports that Netflix is approaching television studios with wads of cash, willing to pay between $70,000 and $100,000 per episode. Netflix would not officially comment on the report. 

History's best investors use both types of shares.

By John Reese Dec 3, 2010 1:54PM

Find hot stocks © Digital Vision / Getty ImagesAre you a value investor or a growth investor? In my dozen-plus years of studying history's most successful investment strategies, one of the biggest lessons I've learned is that you can -- and should -- be both.


While often portrayed as polar opposites, value and growth are really more like cousins. As Warren Buffett put it in his 2000 letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, "market commentators and investment managers who glibly refer to 'growth' and 'value' styles as contrasting approaches to investment are displaying their ignorance, not their sophistication. Growth is simply a component -- usually a plus, sometimes a minus -- in the value equation."


If you can play the contrarian and wade into an unpopular sector, opportunity awaits.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Dec 3, 2010 11:58AM

Everybody hates big banks right now, and for good reason. But if you're able to take on some risk, Motley Fool banking expert Anand Chokkavelu says current valuations in the sector are revealing some big opportunities.


Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor


The headline of this article may surprise you.


Especially if you've read some of my previous articles throughout the banking meltdown and recovery. I've repeatedly warned against the big banks because their balance sheets are utterly inscrutable.


The Kardashian Kard goes kaput. Amazon springs a WikiLeak. Wal-Mart uses centenarian to thwart theft. EA wants a Tiger who wins.

By TheStreet Staff Dec 3, 2010 11:55AM on MSN MoneyHere's our roundup of the most bizarre news in business this week.


5. Karma comes for the Kardashian Kard

Few people were shocked when they heard about the demise of the Kardashian Kard this week. The University Bank of St. Paul, Minn., must have realized the folly of not capitalizing on previous reality-TV role models like Paris Hilton and Hulk Hogan and pounced on the opportunity to plaster the three Kardashian sisters on a fee-ridden prepaid card under the MasterCard (MA) network. The card was intended to appeal to viewers of the popular reality series "Keeping Up With the Kardashians."


The euro dropped Thursday on disappointment with the eurozone's central bank. But the markets march on.

By Jim J. Jubak Dec 3, 2010 11:26AM

Jim JubakFor a day, Goldman Sachs and strong U.S. retail sales and housing numbers trumped disappointment over a tepid response to the euro debt crisis from the European Central Bank.

Thursday morning, Goldman Sachs raised its rating on U.S. financial stocks to overweight and predicted a 20% rally in the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index by the end of 2011. Same-store retail sales grew by 5.3% in November, way above the 3.5% expected. Pending home sales soared by a record 10%.

For the day the big European indexes, the FTSE in the United Kingdom, the DAX in Germany, and the CAC in France finished up 2.2%, 1.3%, and 2.1% respectively.


These funds offer different strategies to track the Oracle's investments.

By TheStreet Staff Dec 3, 2010 11:10AM

Credit: (© Paul White/AP)
Caption: Warren BuffettBy Don Dion, TheStreet


Throughout Warren Buffett's long and illustrious career, fans, analysts and market commentators have attempted to gain insight into his mind in hopes of mastering his investing strategies.


Although there are no specific Buffett ETFs available, there are ways retail investors can use ETFs to add a dose of the Oracle's wisdom to their portfolios.


They can gain either direct exposure to him through a fund that boasts respectable exposure to his investing empire, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A), or follow the Oracle's lead with products that use some of the same techniques he has used in the construction of his portfolio.



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[BRIEFING.COM] Equity indices have taken a couple steps back from their opening highs, with the Nasdaq (+0.3%) slipping behind the S&P 500 (+0.4%).

The benchmark index currently hovers in the middle of its range, but the tech sector, which displayed early strength, has narrowed its gain to 0.3%. Other heavily-weighted groups like financials (+0.1%) and health care (+0.2%) also trail the broader market. The consumer discretionary space (+0.7%), meanwhile, continues trading ahead of ... More


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