There are some picks in this sector that have excellent valuations and strong earnings growth.
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The decision to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will shake out speculators and help consumers.
All 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.
A stronger greenback is shaking Wall Street traders, but it's exactly what Main Street consumers need.
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.
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?
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.
It's time for the Russell index rebalancing act.
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.
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 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.
These technology bosses may not last the year in their current roles, thanks to slumping stocks and stunted turnaround strategies.
By Scott Moritz, TheStreet
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.
What 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.
If fears continue to build, investors will want to unload these shares.
By Jamie Dlugosch, Stockpickr
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.
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.
The tech giant could partner with a television maker to 'blow Netflix and all those other guys away.'
We're talking full-on TV sets. The DailyTech site says it has interviewed a former company executive about Apple's plans to bundle Apple TV and iTunes inside television sets. The idea, the executive said, is to "blow Netflix (NFLX) and all those other guys away."
Apple would get the TVs from a major supplier, the source said, but put its own brand on them. "You'll go into an Apple retail store and be able to walk out with a TV," the source said. "It's perfect." The TVs could come out this year or next.
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