Gold bars & granules © Heinz-Peter Bader/Reuters
Americans prefer gold, real estate

As the market wades through what many people hope is a sixth bull year, some have grown nervous about how long the run can go.


Analysis: A very rare combination of market factors is in the works. Fortunately, playing this move is really easy.

By TheStreet Staff Dec 8, 2010 1:14PM

Oil © Scott Gibson/CorbisBy Daniel Dicker, TheStreet


Oil is looking like an unstoppable beast, recently trading above $90 a barrel. But there are three market factors telling me that this move is not temporary and will set the stage for a powerful follow-though, sending oil above $100 a barrel by the second quarter of 2011.


Now is the time to buy integrated oil stocks, still the best proxy for crude prices, despite how far many of them have run already in the past two months.


One rare market factor convincing me of the strength of this move is the action of the European Brent crude benchmark. While Brent is a sweet grade of crude, like the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate, it normally trades at a discount to its American counterpart.


The company partners with Disney to deliver TV programs, but its shares stall on news of CFO Barry McCarthy's departure.

By TheStreet Staff Dec 8, 2010 1:14PM

thestreetCredit: (© Paul Sakuma/AP)
Caption: Netflix DVDBy Jeanine Poggi, TheStreet


Netflix (NFLX) announced on Wednesday that it will stream ABC television shows.


The Internet movie company entered into an agreement with Walt Disney (DIS) that will allow subscribers to access hundreds of episodes from ABC, Disney Channel and ABC Family 15 days after the show airs.


As part of the deal, Netflix will add old episodes of shows including "Grey's Anatomy," "Brothers & Sisters" and "Desperate Housewives." It will also make available episodes of series no longer on the air, such as "Lost" and "Ugly Betty."


Rising inflation expectations and strengthening economic fundamentals are causing investors to flee these popular assets.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Dec 8, 2010 1:00PM

In my last post I highlighted how investors are moving out of haven assets and into riskier securities. This comes as the economy revs up again, pushing inflation expectations higher.


This is forcing investors to up the scale of risk from U.S. Treasury bonds to investment-trade corporate bonds to junk bonds to large-cap stocks and eventually to small-cap stocks. Even gold, which is considered an inflation hedge, is coming under pressure as investors seek assets with both inflation protection and exposure to the economic recovery. Stocks offer that. Gold and bonds don't.


All of this has created an opportunity to profit from the decline of two of the most popular asset classes of the past two years: precious metals and bonds. Here's why.


Mr. Market is pricing the optical media maker to move.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Dec 8, 2010 12:51PM

Unloved and ignored, it's something you might want to take a chance on. But enough about me: Here's Dan Dzombak with the story of an extremely undervalued stock.


Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor


I'm excited to recommend and open a position in Imation (IMN).


The business
Imation is a global developer and marketer of recordable optical media, magnetic tape media, flash products, and consumer electronics. It operates under the Memorex, Imation, TDK Life, and XtremeMac brands. At some point in your life, you've probably bought CD-R's, DVD-R's, or a flash drive of theirs. The company was spun off from 3M (MMM) in 1996 and has been a standalone entity ever since.


These blue chips have delivered the year's biggest gains, and they could continue to thrive in 2011.

By TheStreet Staff Dec 8, 2010 11:26AM

Find hot stocks © Digital Vision / Getty ImagesBy Jake Lynch, TheStreet


The Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU), an index of the 30 largest publicly traded U.S. companies, has advanced 7.8% this year, lagging behind the S&P 500 Index ($INX) and Nasdaq Composite ($COMPX).


Still, several of its members have delivered outstanding gains, with less risk and volatility than small- and mid-cap stocks.


Here are the five best-performing Dow dividend stocks of 2010. They may continue to outperform the broader market in 2011. Below, the stocks are ordered by year-to-date return, from good to great:


Turns out the president's 'compromise' with the GOP is just a messy framework that leaves us in limbo.

By Jim Cramer Dec 8, 2010 9:49AM

more market commentary and stock picks from jim cramerWhat were we thinking? That's kind of how I felt getting up this morning. Did we really think President Barack Obama had any party -- his or theirs -- locked up with this "deal"? Did we really think that there wouldn't be dithering and horse trading and delay, delay, delay?


The answer is that "we" were those who believed the president represented his party. Judging by the sell-off after his press conference, those who believed joined those who didn't as we watched a president who doesn't have the juice to get this deal done, at least not within the time frame the market demands right now. Certainly not within the time frame needed to offset worries about further Chinese tightening -- something we'd better get used to, because it is going to happen fairly often until China re-creates a soft-landing scenario.


The offshore drilling company has a huge advantage when supply is tight. But what about when markets are soft?

By Jim J. Jubak Dec 7, 2010 7:20PM

Jim JubakSometimes it doesn't pay to be the biggest. 

If you're the biggest company in the market and control capacity in your industry, that's a license to print money when supply for your product is tight. When supply runs ahead of demand, however, the pressure is on to support prices across your industry by reducing your capacity. 

This is the story for Saudi Arabia, the swing producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, for Potash of Saskatchewan (POT) in potash fertilizer, and for Transocean (RIG) in the offshore drilling industry.


Shares of the fast-food chain reach $80.79 ahead of Wednesday's report on November sales.

By TheStreet Staff Dec 7, 2010 3:16PM

thestreetBig Mac © McDonald'sBy Miriam Marcus Reimer, TheStreet


McDonald's (MCD) shares pushed up to an all-time high of $80.79 Tuesday afternoon as investors anticipated a strong report on November sales.


The global fast-food chain is due to report its November monthly sales figures on Wednesday. Analysts' consensus is for the Golden Arches to report U.S. same-store sales growth -- or sales at stores open at least one year, a closely watched metric in the restaurant industry -- of 5.1% for the month.


Deutsche Bank analyst Jason West expects McDonald's to report U.S. comps growth of 5% for November, compared with a 0.6% decline in the year-earlier month.


Some companies hire private detectives to bust sick-day abusers.

By Kim Peterson Dec 7, 2010 2:45PM

riding in car © Getty ImagesOh, man, Christmas is coming soon, and you haven't done nearly enough shopping. One little sick day would accomplish so much!

Sounds tempting, but companies are starting to catch on. One work-force productivity firm says 57% of U.S. employees abuse sick days, taking them when they feel just fine, BusinessWeek reports. That's up nearly 20% from a few years ago.

So now companies are hiring private detectives to spy on employees who call in sick. Investigators have found them at bowling alleys, football games and funerals, and one private eye says that "80 to 85% of the time there's definitely fraud happening," BusinessWeek reports.


The Verizon iPhone of tomorrow is squelching smart-phone sales at the wireless shop today.

By TheStreet Staff Dec 7, 2010 2:36PM

tech stock news from thestreetWet cell phone © Digital Vision/SuperstockBy Scott Moritz, TheStreet


Verizon's (VZ) impending first-quarter launch of the Apple (AAPL) iPhone is impeding fourth-quarter sales of the telco's current supply of phones.


Verizon stores have been a little quieter than normal this holiday season, according to two wireless analysts. One explanation could be the customary lull that comes after Black Friday and before the last-minute gift-buying spree leading up to Christmas.


But another reason is one that seems to be looming particularly large over the market right now: the Verizon iPhone.


The company faces strong competition as 2 grocery chains merge to thwart its entry.

By Kim Peterson Dec 7, 2010 2:18PM
Wal-Mart logo © WalmartWal-Mart's (WMT) international business is on fire, vastly outperforming its U.S. sales. And the company continues its global march, moving into other countries with ruthless efficiency.

Russia, however, is putting up some resistance to Wal-Mart's plans. Two of its largest grocery store chains, Pyaterochka and Kopeika, plan to merge operations to fight the Wal-Mart onslaught, The New York Times reports.

The deal is worth about $1.7 billion. Wal-Mart doesn't yet have a store in Russia but has been talking with Kopeika about getting into the business. 

China and oil present the latest opportunities in exchange-traded funds.

By MSNMoney partner Dec 7, 2010 1:44PM

Find hot ETFs © Digital Vision / Getty ImagesBy James Dlugosch


The Santa Claus rally took some time in coming, but investors are cheering its arrival. Stocks gained across the board last week, with the S&P 500 ($INX) gaining a fat 3%.


Our weekly top ETFs captured most of that gain, moving up 2.65%. That puts our little portfolio on track for an annualized return of more than 30%.


After 10 weeks, the evidence is clear: An absolute-return approach using exchange-traded funds produces substantial income without taking on nearly as much risk as pure trading or pure equity buying.


The wireless provider scores dead last in a user survey.

By Kim Peterson Dec 7, 2010 1:29PM
Damaged cell phone © Nick Koudis / Getty ImagesConsumer Reports dealt AT&T (T) a severe blow this week, naming the company the worst cell phone service provider in the nation.

This may not be a surprise to anyone with an iPhone. And it comes at just the wrong time for AT&T, if reports are correct that Apple (AAPL) will let Verizon (VZ) have the iPhone next year.

The top-scoring cell provider in Consumer Reports' user survey was U.S. Cellular (USM). And all the other majors came in ahead of AT&T, including Verizon, Sprint (S) and T-Mobile, which is a division of Deutsche Telekom (DT)

It may not be the best company in its industry, but it does have a low price and a catalyst to move.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Dec 7, 2010 12:45PM

Today our eye is on ION. We're ready to get geophysical. I can't think of any more seismic quips, so it's time for Bryan White to tell us why he's buying.


Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor 


What do fireflies, roller coasters and China's bull run on commodities have in common? They all play into my investment thesis for buying a 3% position in ION Geophysical (IO), an oil-facing seismic technology company.


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.



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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished the Wednesday session on a modestly lower note, but it is worth mentioning today's retreat took place after six consecutive gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.1%) and S&P 500 (-0.2%) settled not far below their flat lines, while the Nasdaq Composite (-0.8%) lagged throughout the session.

Equity indices started the day in the red, with the Nasdaq showing early weakness as large cap tech names and biotechnology weighed. The technology ... More


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