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It's no Alibaba, but the Citizens Financial Group offering is important to the market.


There's always time to look at the bright side of life.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Jun 24, 2011 11:38AM

By Rick Aristotle Munarriz


If you're feeling good about the market, you're not alone. Take my hand as we go over some of this week's more uplifting headlines.


1. Sirius horsepower
General Motors (GM)
is the latest carmaker to milk more money from its used cars through Sirius XM Radio (SIRI).


Buyers of pre-owned cars sold through GM dealers that have deactivated XM receivers -- regardless of the original manufacturer -- will now come with three-month trials to the premium radio service.


It's a win-win-win deal that Sirius XM has been inking with leading auto manufacturers. Used-car buyers get three months of free satellite radio. Sirius XM has an easier way to woo new paying subscribers with minimal investments, since the dormant receivers are already in the cars. The automakers get a piece of the action from Sirius XM for any drivers who sign up as paying subscribers.


The decision to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will shake out speculators and help consumers.

By Jim Cramer Jun 24, 2011 9:12AM

the streetthe streetAll people did Thursday when I asked them about this Strategic Petroleum Reserve gambit was tell me how silly it was, how it won't work and how it is just a sign of desperation.


To which I say that we have thrown trillions of dollars and euros all over the place to get this world's economy moving again, and it is failing in large part because the price of oil is too high. Is it really such a nutty idea to hit the market with enough oil that the nonconsumers who are hoarding it get blown out and the price falls? Is it really so crazy that we should criticize it when it's already working?


Sometimes people have to recognize the beauty of this. If all it takes to destroy the price is the release of a couple of days' supply of oil from our reserve to the marketplace, can't you see how phony the whole thing is? The critics would let us be hostage to that situation instead of having this artificial and easily manipulated market be brought to heel.


The electric-car market hasn't taken off like some expected, and that leaves a dearth of customers for A123 Systems.

By Jim J. Jubak Jun 23, 2011 4:56PM
By Peter Butkus

It's time to remove A123 Systems (AONE) from Jim’s Watch List.

A short-term trade could work, maybe, on hopes that projected second-half revenue will materialize. But long-term, the company -- a developer and manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries for electric cars and the smart utility grid -- has a serious chicken-and-egg problem.

No matter how good the company’s battery technology may be, the electric-car market has been much slower than expected in getting off the ground -- and without that market, A123 Systems just doesn’t have enough customers to sell to.

A123 Systems went public in 2009. Investors immediately bid up the stock, believing that the company had revolutionary technology and that rising oil prices would lead consumers to adopt electric cars.

A stronger greenback is shaking Wall Street traders, but it's exactly what Main Street consumers need.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Jun 23, 2011 4:08PM

Since Osama bin Laden was taken out on May 1, the U.S. dollar has stabilized and moved higher.  I guess that after years of seemingly endless wars, terrorist threats, economic stagnation and financial crisis, the clean kill half a world away restored some of America's honor. It couldn't come soon enough.


Between June 2010 and May 1, the dollar lost nearly 18%. While that was good news from the perspective of Wall Street traders and multinational CEOs, it was terrible for average consumers. Gas prices spiked and crude oil soared on currency effects and supply concerns. And import prices climbed as a weaker dollar helped import Chinese inflation. All of this contributed to the current soft patch in the economy.


But things are changing now. It started with bin Laden's death. Now the Federal Reserve's decision this week to end its $600 billion money-printing operation without a followup has added to the dollar's tailwind. That's just the thing to get the recovery back on track -- even if it makes Wall Street a little uncomfortable.


Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings becomes a Facebook director, paving the way for more partnerships between the companies.

By Kim Peterson Jun 23, 2011 2:17PM
Netflix (NFLX) may have just secured a big weapon for its arsenal: Facebook.

The chief executive of Netflix, Reed Hastings, has joined the board of the social-networking giant. Hastings is also on the board of Microsoft (MSFT). Note: MSN Money is owned by Microsoft.

So what does this mean? Netflix is already trying to integrate itself into Facebook, and I imagine the partnership will continue to flourish. Now, Netflix will have more opportunity to become a primary video streaming source for Facebook users.

Facebook has been experimenting with streaming movies. 

The release of 60 million barrels from reserves is pushing crude oil prices down. Will that mean less pain at the pump?

By Kim Peterson Jun 23, 2011 1:03PM
The U.S. led the push Thursday to release 60 million barrels of crude reserves from stockpiles, replacing some of the losses that resulted when Libya went offline.

The move had an immediate impact on oil prices, as benchmark crude in the U.S. dropped $5 a barrel to $90. And in the futures markets, gasoline fell 14 cents a gallon.

So does that translate into cheaper gas? Unfortunately, that's a little iffy.

Gas prices have already been tumbling, and no one's sure how much more they can drop. Today's nationwide average for a gallon of regular is $3.61, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report. That's down from $3.69 a week ago and $3.83 a month ago. 
Tags: oilopec

It's time for the Russell index rebalancing act.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Jun 23, 2011 11:42AM

By Dan Caplinger


A lot of investors are going to be surprised by the huge spikes in volume that many stocks are going to see near the close this Friday. Some will wonder whether it's another sign of market manipulation. But don't worry: It's all perfectly normal, although it does give you an opportunity to get in on some interesting stocks before the investing masses do.


Playing index games one more time
Every June, Russell Investments, which is the company behind the well-known small-cap benchmark Russell 2000 index, changes its lists of component stocks for several of its indexes. Inevitably, the index reconstitution leads to some up-and-coming companies making it into the benchmarks, replacing those companies that no longer qualify for inclusion.


Given that this happens every year, you'd think that everyone would treat it as a non-event. But with nearly $4 trillion of institutional investments tied to Russell's indexes, there's a ton of money at stake -- and with the many index funds and other money managers that have to follow Russell's moves, you can expect to see substantial volatility as the changes become final on June 24.


Author JK Rowling announces that the e-books will be sold exclusively through her Pottermore website.

By Kim Peterson Jun 23, 2011 11:37AM
Pottermore has been revealed, and the secret is a bit of a letdown.

J.K. Rowling announced Thursday that her Harry Potter books will be available as audio downloads and digital e-books in October. The mysterious Pottermore website, which had teased Harry Potter fans for days, will be the only place to buy them.

The announcement falls a little flat for fans who had expected breakthrough news, perhaps maybe an online Harry Potter role-playing game. But Pottermore will have some new material: Rowling has reportedly written 18,000 words for the site, which will also feature games, social networking and an online store. 

Here are five funds for investors who are looking for yield in a shaky market.

By TheStreet Staff Jun 23, 2011 11:29AM

By Don Dion, TheStreet


Although the U.S. markets have enjoyed some small doses of strength over the course of the week, caution remains warranted as we look ahead.


With Greece's debt woes still dominating headlines and weighing on sentiment, the need for protection is essential. There are a number of ways investors can use ETFs in order to both defend against the market's current shakiness and prepare for strength on the horizon.


Dividend-paying equities and other income-oriented investing options, for instance, may appeal to investors looking to construct such an all-weather portfolio. Here are five ETF options investors may want to consider when attempting to target yield.


Technology and semiconductors have been lagging the S&P 500, and even strong earnings aren’t likely to reverse the negative outlook.

By Jun 23, 2011 11:13AM
By Tom Aspray,

It has been a rough few weeks for the semiconductor stocks as the Semiconductor HOLDRs Trust (SMH) is down 13% from the early-May highs. This tech industry group has seen several wide swings so far in 2011.

The decline in the semiconductors has been greater than that of the S&P technology sector, which through last week’s lows was down 10% from the early-May highs. During the same period, the S&P 500 was down just over 8%.

The tech earnings so far in 2011 have been stronger than most expected, but the technology sector has continued to lag the overall market. Therefore, as we enter a new earnings season, it will be important to see if the relative performance of the tech sector can improve.

These technology bosses may not last the year in their current roles, thanks to slumping stocks and stunted turnaround strategies.

By TheStreet Staff Jun 23, 2011 10:49AM

By Scott Moritz, TheStreet


Falling stocks, stalled turnaround strategies and soured shareholder sentiments have helped shine a severe light on several tech CEOs recently.


Salty Yahoo (YHOO) chief Carol Bartz has long lost her gruff charm, and she may not be able to hang on to her job much longer if new reports stating that the company is searching for her replacement are true.


It's been a tough run for Bartz, who was hired more than two years ago to bring order and direction to the disarray that Yahoo had fallen into.


But Bartz isn't alone. Other tech titans have been called out for failing to meet market challenges or, in some cases, driving business into the ditch.


Bernanke simply kicked the can down the road. With his Fed-speak behind us, it's time to focus again on individual stocks, leaving others to pontificate on the big picture.

By Jim Cramer Jun 23, 2011 8:50AM

the streetthe streetWhat did people want from Ben Bernanke? Did they want him to say, "I am an idiot and I can't get the job done, so go find someone else?" Did they want him to tell us that the Greek worries are ridiculous and we shouldn't be fearful of a contagion? Did we want him to say we are on the eve of destruction?


No, I know what they wanted him to do. They wanted him to wave a magic wand that would force Congress and the president to stop profligate spending, including war spending, cut back entitlements, issue long-term U.S. government debt to take advantage of the low long-term rates and stave off a liquidity event, solve the pension problems, raise age limits for Social Security, and speed up the stalled housing foreclosure process and buy 2 million vacant homes to torch them.


Big wish list.


In truth, it would have been better if Bernanke had called out the bad guys rather than saying that he's given all he's got, like some sort of Scotty trying to save the Enterprise from being sucked into a black hole.


The company is seeing rising demand for seeds and pesticides, which could help it grab market share from rivals.

By Jim J. Jubak Jun 22, 2011 4:26PM
Jim JubakThe hits just keep on coming in the agricultural sector.

Just days after fertilizer maker Agrium (AGU) raised its guidance for the first half of 2011, on better than expected prices and demand, Syngenta (SYT) said yesterday that rising demand for seeds and pesticides would help it double revenue from its main seed and crop-protection products to $17 billion in 2015, from $8.4 billion in 2010.

Syngenta’s projected 102% growth in that period would exceed the forecast for the sector as a whole. Research company MarketsandMarkets forecasts that the global agricultural-chemical market will grow to $223 billion in 2015, from $134 billion in 2010.

That’s a rather heady 66% growth rate, but it lags Syngenta’s figures because the company is forecasting that it will pick up market share from competitors in the sector over that period.

If fears continue to build, investors will want to unload these shares.

By TheStreet Staff Jun 22, 2011 4:08PM

more stock picks and investing ideas from stockpickrImage: Arrow Down (© Image Source/SuperStock)By Jamie Dlugosch, Stockpickr


Pastor Harold Camping predicted the world would end this year on May 21. The much-publicized end of days failed to materialize. I can't say I was surprised, but it was nonetheless a relief.


It is human nature to be fearful. For some reason, we are all wired with some degree of skepticism about the future. Perhaps it's due to our awareness of the ultimate inevitability of our demise. Over the past six weeks, the amount of skepticism and fear in the stock market has risen.


The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), also known as the "fear index," is up 23% since the end of April. Typically such spikes are accompanied by sharp declines in the stock market. Indeed, the S&P 500 ($INX) is down about 5% over the same period. As painful as it is to lose 5%, the losses could be a lot worse.


With the VIX currently at 18.21, there is a lot more fear to be had in the market. When stocks bottomed in March 2009, the VIX peaked at 53.25, more than double where we are today. But should fear in the current market continue to build, here are five names I would consider liquidating.


Still in a fragile recovery, the doughnut chain looks to yogurt, juices and specialty coffees to sustain momentum.

By Kim Peterson Jun 22, 2011 3:21PM
Krispy Kreme (KKD), a name you can hardly speak without salivating, is having a great year. Shares are at $9 -- double what they were a year ago. Profit and sales are on fire.

So in order to keep momentum going, the company is ... getting healthier?

Chief executive James Morgan wants to add oatmeal, yogurt and fruit juice to the menu, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. He's also looking at specialty coffee, starting with custom blends in September and espressos and lattes over 18 months.

Homer Simpson would be disappointed, and I admit I am as well. 


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[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages have not wasted any time in rebounding from their opening lows. The S&P 500, which started with an eight-point loss, has already recovered all but two points help from influential sectors like energy (+0.4%), financials (+0.1%), and technology (+0.1%).

On the flip side, consumer discretionary (-0.1%), industrials (-0.3%), and health care (-0.4%) remain weak.

The performance of the six sectors is likely to influence the direction of the ... More


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