A Mexican wave for Big Oil?
Mexico opens way for Big Oil

New legislation is allowing foreign companies to finally invest in the country's vast oil reserves.


'Choc Finger' grabbed a huge amount of the world's cocoa this year. Now he's trying to sell it back.

By Kim Peterson Dec 16, 2010 1:58PM
Chocolate © image100/CorbisOne British man turned the world's chocolate business on its head this year, buying enough cocoa in July alone to make 15 million Hershey's bars.

Anthony Ward bought so much cocoa, in fact, that people worried he was trying to corner the market and raise prices. But his chocolate binge has turned out to be a very bad investment.

Cocoa has performed miserably since July to become the worst agricultural performer this year. And Ward, nicknamed "Choc Finger," has started to sell off his hoard. 

To avoid correlation with the US dollar, try microcap stock funds.

By TheStreet Staff Dec 16, 2010 1:40PM

more etf investing tips from the streetdollar bill © Corbis By Gary Gordon, TheStreet


Before 2000, a strong dollar was often synonymous with a strong U.S. economy. Over the past decade, however, greenback strength has often signified a fear of riskier assets like stocks, commodities and emerging-market currencies.


In 2010, the correlation between stocks and dollars only intensified. When the dollar trended lower, riskier stock assets flourished. And when the dollar moved higher, stocks limped their way toward the closing bell.


There are other reasons for the coupling, however. Commodities are priced in the world's reserve currency. It follows that miners, explorers and materials companies may generate larger profit margins when it takes more dollars to pay for "stuff." Consequently, materials-heavy iShares Emerging Markets (EEM) had a negative 0.78 correlation coefficient to PowerShares Dollar Bullish (UUP) in 2010.


Coca-Cola will be the first of our portfolio anchors.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Dec 16, 2010 1:07PM

Credit: (©Jeff Chiu/AP)
Caption: Coca-Cola bottlesFor our Motley Fool pick of the day, we turn to ... me. I'm building out a real-money portfolio for the Fool, and my first buy is a "set and forget" stock I can be comfortable holding for decades.


Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor


After narrowing the field, it's time for the first buy for our Rising Stars "multivitamin" portfolio. If you can pretend for a moment you didn't read the clever promo line above, I'll masterfully build the suspense for you.


In other tech news: Twitter raises $200 million, while Facebook is likely to generate revenue of $2 billion this year.

By TheStreet Staff Dec 16, 2010 12:49PM

more technology and business news from thestreethigh tech © CorbisBy Olivia Oran, TheStreet


Apple (AAPL) shares were gaining 0.3% Thursday to $321.37 after the company announced that its Mac App Store will open on Jan. 6. The store, which will be similar to the App Store available for the iPhone, iPad Touch and iPad, will be available in 90 countries at launch.


In other tech news, Google (GOOG) had the largest share of the U.S. core search market in November, with a 66.2% slice, according to industry tracker ComScore. Yahoo! (YHOO) and Microsoft's (MSFT) Bing followed, holding 16.4% and 11.8%, respectively.


Shares of Google were rising 0.4% to $592.59, while shares of Microsoft were slipping 0.3% to $27.76.


After hitting a wall of skepticism before Wednesday's close, the market is waiting for more positive news.

By Jim Cramer Dec 16, 2010 9:43AM

more market commentary from jim cramerWednesday was an odd day of no particular consequence. Yet at the same time, it felt ugly in part because we have almost come to expect a decent performance.


In fact, it was a day when you could have lost a lot of money buying at the high and when stocks really broke down at the bell.


I reiterate that I think the sell-off was related to options expiration and that hiring, which is crucial, is getting better, not worse. That's the immunity from the illness of Europe that so many people keep keying on. They should be keying in on good industrial production and retail sales, but you can go up for only so long on those two.


The aircraft manufacturer is raising prices -- a sign that airlines are getting serious about buying.

By Jim J. Jubak Dec 15, 2010 5:12PM
Jim JubakOn Tuesday, Boeing (BA) shares showed up in an unusual category: For the first time in five days, the stock wasn’t listed among the worst-performing stocks among the Dow Jones Industrials. Instead, it showed up on the other side of the ledger among the best performers.

All it took was an announcement from Boeing that it was raising prices for its planes for the first time in two years.

The size of the increase -- 5.2% -- isn’t especially important. Any price increase at all is confirmation that demand for aircraft is running so hot and supply is so limited that aircraft makers can charge more for their product.

Changes are afoot in the stock market that suggest now is the time to prepare for a significant market correction.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Dec 15, 2010 4:10PM

After months of mostly uninterrupted gains, stocks are beginning to stall.

Traders moved into defensive, noncyclical sectors for the third day in a row Wednesday as staples, health care, and telecom stocks lead the way. Cyclical, economically sensitive stocks in the semiconductors, technology, real-estate and transportation sectors are all showing serious underperformance relative to the broad market.


The strength in defensives, combined with the weakness of cyclical stocks, suggests investors have their doubts about whether the typical Santa Claus rally will materialize this year. Along with narrowing market breadth, the subject of my last post, this is a sign that a market correction is coming. Here's why.


The company wants to double its number of restaurants in China in 3 years.

By Kim Peterson Dec 15, 2010 2:25PM
Big Mac © McDonald’sHow important is China to McDonald's (MCD)? The company is making expansion there a top priority.

McDonald's opened its first restaurant in China 20 years ago, in the town of Shenzhen, but it has lagged since then and has only about 1,000 outlets. So Yum Brands (YUM) jumped in to fill the void, opening about 3,700 Pizza Hut and KFC outlets in the country.

McDonald's now wants to compete. The company has opened 165 restaurants in China this year and wants to add as many as 200 next year, Reuters reports

Time chooses Mark Zuckerberg for its annual honor. Does he deserve it?

By Kim Peterson Dec 15, 2010 1:17PM
Credit: © Paul Sakuma/AP
Caption: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talks about the new email service at an announcement in San Francisco, Monday, Nov. 15, 2010Time magazine took the safe route for its person of the year, passing over a legion of news makers to give Facebook's chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, the title.

Certainly Zuckerberg is noteworthy. But Time said he won the honor "for changing how we all live our lives." That's a bit of a stretch, isn't it?

Time says that its person of the year is the person (or thing) that most influenced the culture or the news in 2010 -- in a good or bad way, The Associated Press reports. Now, I admit that Facebook irritates me to no end, so maybe I'm a little biased. But is Zuckerberg that influential? 

A retail resurgence means it's time for a little bargain shopping.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Dec 15, 2010 1:01PM

Save on shopping © Photodisc / Getty ImagesIt's the holiday season, and we're offering two picks today for the price of one. For an added bonus, there's also the possibility of the world getting a few dozen more Victoria's Secret models. How can you resist?


Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor


Retail is back, guys. You can read our full explanation, but here's a quick rundown of the vital facts:


Skip the gadgets and jewelry and consider giving exchange-traded funds that invest in gold and coal.

By TheStreet Staff Dec 15, 2010 11:28AM
Holiday gift © Digital Vision

By Don Dion, TheStreet


Christmas is fast approaching, and people around the world are putting the final touches on their holiday wish-lists.


While images of games and gadgets may be on many people's minds, investors who have their loved ones' portfolios in mind may want to consider putting some promising exchange-traded funds under the tree this year.


1.    iShares Gold Trust (IAU)/ Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX)

Necklaces, bracelets and earrings are always thoughtful and welcome. However, this year, investors considering precious metals for the holidays may want to consider skipping the jewelry and instead present their loved ones with a shiny new gold ETF.


The index reclaimed its 1999 year-end levels Tuesday after more than 10 years of doldrums. Now we have a chance for a fresh start.

By Jim Cramer Dec 15, 2010 10:15AM

jim cramerWe are not running in place. In fact, what we are doing is breaking out on the last laggard index out there, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU), which closed the year 1999 at 11,497. Take a look at where we are: Tuesday we finally got back to where we were 11 years ago, although there was a heck of a lot in between.


Why focus on this number? Because for many people, we have been involved in a 10-year bear market, one that left us worse off than we were a decade ago, one that left us, without dividends being reinvested, in a lost decade of stocks. It's been a repulsive period for the alleged asset class of choice, a decade in which gold has done so much better, in which you made more money in bonds, in which you would have done so much better not indexing -- at least to the Dow.


I think this is a very important milestone. I think it says that we have a chance for a fresh start in 2011, when we could break out of a range that has haunted us.


Freeport McMoRan is distributing lots of money. What does that say about the stock's future?

By Jim J. Jubak Dec 14, 2010 5:10PM
Jim JubakOn Thursday, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX) said it would pay a special dividend of $1 a share on Dec. 30 (to shareholders of record on Dec. 20). 

The company also announced a 2-for-1 stock split effective Feb. 1, 2011. This all comes on top of an October vote by the board of directors to increase the company’s annual dividend to $2 a share from the current $1.20. (The new dividend will be paid to shareholders on Feb. 1. To take account of the split, the quarterly payment will be 25 cents a share.)

Certainly Freeport McMoRan has the cash to spread around. Copper is trading near a record high, and prices look to go higher in 2011 as supply struggles to keep up with demand.

Delta's revenue led the industry during the first three quarters of 2010.

By TheStreet Staff Dec 14, 2010 4:51PM

Airline meal © Blend Images/SuperStockBy Ted Reed, TheStreet


U.S. airlines collected about $4.3 billion in fee revenue in the first three quarters of 2010, an amount roughly equivalent to the industry's anticipated total profits for the year.


With the fourth quarter historically one in which airlines lose money, it is possible to conclude that nearly every penny of the industry's profits will result from fee income. U.S. airlines are expected to earn about $4 billion in 2010 after losing $23.7 billion the previous year.


Speaking at an investor conference last month, US Airways (LCC) CFO Derek Kerr said the airline would have about $500 million in 2010 fee revenue, including $475 million from baggage fees. That is roughly equivalent to US Airways' expected 2010 profit.


We profit from common stock and options trading.

By Wall Street Media on MSN Money Dec 14, 2010 4:10PM

Written by Douglas Estadt


Today, we take a closer look at a unique and profitable scenario involving optionsXpress Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq:OXPS), a web-based brokerage company.  Investors may stand to profit from the simultaneous trading of OXPS common stock and options.  Common stock shareholders will be paid a substantial dividend provided that they own the stock before December 27th.  This dividend will then likely spark a sell off that will, in turn, benefit options traders as the put value increases.  The plays from which we’ll profit are as follows:

  • Purchasing the common stock, which is currently around 19.50, will pay a one-time dividend of 4.50 come the end of December
  • January 20 put is trading at 1.20; as the stock will likely sell off following the 4.50 pay out, the put will become increasingly valuable and so we will be buying 3x as many of these as we bought common shares.

For more on OXPS, view today's show:



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Market index data delayed by 15 minutes

[BRIEFING.COM] Equity indices continue trading in mixed fashion with the Nasdaq (+0.3%) trading ahead of the remaining indices.

The tech-heavy index has benefitted from the relative strength in the biotech space (IBB +0.9%), the outperformance of its top component-Apple (AAPL 101.23, +0.65)-and modest gains among chipmakers. The PHLX Semiconductor Index is higher by 0.1% with 16 of its 30 components trading in the green. NXP Semi (NXPI 65.35, +1.32) is the top-performer, ... More


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