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A bill in Congress would finally stop television ads from blaring at ear-splitting volumes.

By Kim Peterson Dec 1, 2010 2:04PM
Television © CorbisThe mute button on my TV remote has all but disappeared, worn down to a rubber nub after years of ear-splitting commercials.

Is it that hard to make advertisers turn down the volume? Apparently so, because even after decades of consumer complaints, the ads continue to one-up each other in a competition for your attention.

That's about to change, however, thanks to a bill in Congress that forbids TV ads from being louder than the programs that accompany them. The CALM Act (whose name stands for Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation) has been approved by the Senate and heads to the House for a vote this week, The Wall Street Journal reports

As a deal with Kraft crumbles, Starbucks could purchase a company to sell its packaged coffee, ice cream and more.

By InvestorPlace Dec 1, 2010 1:32PM

Groceries © Tom Grill/CorbisBy Jeff Reeves, editor of


Starbucks (SBUX) is well-known for its model of ubiquity, with stores sometimes across the street from each other. But if the coffee king has its way, the Starbucks brand will be not only on every street corner but also in every grocery store aisle.


Recently that has meant an extensive line of new products -- including bottled drinks and Starbucks ice cream -- and a focus on its lower-priced Seattle's Best brand. But the biggest move is yet to come.


According to the CEO of Starbucks, the company is ready to make some pricey acquisitions to buy out other food companies and boost sales of bagged coffee and other consumer products outside its cafes and in grocery stores.


The iconic men's magazine releases its archive in digital form, with every issue from 1953 to 2010.

By TheStreet Staff Dec 1, 2010 1:22PM

Credit: Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner attends a signing of 'Playboy Cover to Cover ((C) WireImage)By Theresa McCabe, TheStreet


Playboy (PLA) has released a 250-gigabyte USB hard drive that holds every issue of Playboy magazine from 1953 to 2010 for about $300.


The digital archive has more than 100,000 pages of photos  from 650 issues of the iconic publication over the past 57 years.


"Why would you let more than 650 of your favorite Playmates celebrate the holidays in a damp garage, stashed under your bed or crowded together in the basement when you can bring them all together beneath the mistletoe this year?" Playboy said in a statement.


Google Editions will be the storefront for the company's digitial publishing business, the latest in its wide variety of offerings.

By InvestorPlace Dec 1, 2010 12:31PM

Money books © gulfimages / Getty ImagesGoogle (GOOG) wants it all. From Google TV to its recent rumored Groupon acquisition plan and even to alternative energy, there is no corner of the modern world that the technology company isn't looking to get its fingers into.

Now the company is gunning to replace (AMZN) and Barnes & Noble (BKN) as your bookstore of choice.


Pebblebrook has the means and expertise to snap up valuable properties.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Dec 1, 2010 11:47AM

Hotels have been a painful roach trap the last few years (investors check in, but they don't check out!). Alex Pape says all that pain has led to a great investment opportunity in cash-rich bargain hunter Pebblebrook. Enjoy your stay!


Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks Editor


If you like ugly, you're going to love my pick today.

There are plenty of suffering industries out there, but few more hideous than hotels. However, aesthetically beautiful but economically ugly hotels are Pebblebrook Hotel Trust's (PEB) bread and butter.


Analysis: International man of mystery Julian Assange appears to have a loaded publicity gun aimed at the bank.

By TheStreet Staff Dec 1, 2010 10:53AM
Banker © Radius Images/Jupiterimages By Lauren Tara LaCapra, TheStreet


In its latest perception battle, Bank of America (BAC) is up against an international man of mystery who appears to have a loaded publicity gun.


In just hours, he robbed shareholders of as much as $4 billion.


The man is Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks and known for blockbuster data dumps that have humiliated top diplomats and allegedly put lives in danger.


The EU's fund to backstop financial markets sounded good, but it's ending up smaller than advertised.

By Jim J. Jubak Dec 1, 2010 10:45AM

Jim JubakThe financial markets have started to do the math they should have done six months ago, and they don’t like what they’re seeing: The European Union’s much-vaunted financial backstop fund might not have enough money to rescue Spain, the numbers argue. That’s because the fund was never as big as advertised.

The realization that the attempt to paper over the euro crisis until 2012 or so isn’t very credible has savaged Portuguese and Spanish government debt today. As of noon the cost in the derivative market to insure Portugal’s government debt against default hit a record, and investors demanded the highest premium since the euro began to hold Spanish 10-year bonds instead of their German counterparts.

The euro itself dropped to a 10-week low Tuesday and was at $1.31 Wednesday.


The Apple tablet's sales have gained by almost exactly the rate that Kindle's have lost.

By InvestorPlace Dec 1, 2010 10:33AM

Credit: (© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Caption: Apple iPadBy Jeff Reeves, editor of

A recent survey shows that the once-dominant Kindle e-reader from Amazon (AMZN) is rapidly losing market share to the Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPad tablet computer. Customers who own the iPad have a higher rate of satisfaction, and future buyers are more likely to pick up the Apple gadget than a Kindle -- signs that the Kindle is fighting a major uphill battle.

In November, ChangeWave Research asked more than 400 e-reader owners about their habits. The most telling finding was that the Amazon Kindle saw a sharp decline in current ownership that almost exactly equaled the gains by Apple and its iPad.


Forget B of A, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan until they can avoid negative news long enough to sustain a 2-day rally.

By Jim Cramer Dec 1, 2010 5:14AM
Jim Cramer

So much for the big-bank-stock rally.


As I wrote Tuesday, the headlines are too overwhelming. You can't get any uglier than Tuesday's smoking gun at Bank of America (BAC) -- except a smoking machine gun. The company's shares hit an 18-month low of $10.95 amid speculation that the bank may be the next target of WikiLeaks.


The press is not going to let up. It doesn't matter if the net interest margins are getting better or the fees are growing or credit is stronger. What matter are mortgage malfeasance and the inability to put that issue behind the big banks.


A narrowing of breath suggests buyers are finding fewer bargains, a sign that lower prices are needed.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Nov 30, 2010 4:51PM

While stock prices have made little progress over the last two months, a key measure of the market's internal strength is fading. Breadth, or the number of stock that are participating in the uptrend, has moved to the lowest levels seen since August. Yet despite this, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDU) continues to trade at levels first seen in mid-October.

This is unsustainable -- like a house with a crumbling foundation. As investors become more skittish, with concerns over Chinese inflation, Korean artillery fire, and European bailouts, they increasingly focus on the best performing stocks. The laggards are ignored. But eventually, are an increasing percentage of issues halt their advance and turn lower, the broad market indices will follow unless buyers reengage.

Today, breadth measured moved to fresh lows. Of the 30 Dow components, just three stocks remain in uptrends as defined by their 9-day average being above their 18-day average. Here they are, along with a look at the recent losers:


News sites are reporting that Google is close to buying Groupon -- for a huge amount.

By Kim Peterson Nov 30, 2010 4:08PM
Online shopping © Comstock/SuperStockKudos to Groupon and its baby-faced young founder, Andrew Mason.

News sites are reporting that a deal is close in which Google (GOOG) would buy the hot discount deal site. The price tag is higher than what most expected, too, if reports are correct.

AllThingsD reports that Google has offered $5.3 billion for Groupon, making Groupon its largest acquisition yet. "It will move the search giant instantly to the top spot in local commerce online and give it huge troves of data about consumer buying habits and merchant information across the globe," writes Kara Swisher. 
Tags: internet

McDonald's doesn't sell as many kids' meals anymore. Has the company moved on?

By Kim Peterson Nov 30, 2010 3:11PM
Credit: (© Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
Caption: McDonald's restaurantTo hear McDonald's (MCD) talk about it, the Happy Meal doesn't seem like a big deal.

The Happy Meal accounts for less than 10% of the company's U.S. business, a spokeswoman told Ad Age. McDonald's won't say much else about its Happy Meal sales and won't give specific numbers.

San Francisco doesn't think much about the Happy Meal. Its board of supervisors has now officially banned the Happy Meal -- in its current form, at least -- starting Dec. 1, 2011. (By the way, a dietitian has created Happy Meal ideas that would be acceptable under the ban. Turkey burgers, baked fries and steamed broccoli sound good to me.) 

How messed-up market expectations can work in your favor.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Nov 30, 2010 12:40PM

For our pick of the day we turn to Fool Jim Mueller, who employs the "expectations investing" strategy of Michael Mauboussin. Here, Jim shows us why Transocean's low expectations are providing us with a buy opportunity.


Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor


I think Transocean (RIG) is a buy right now because of Mr. Market's messed-up expectations. Let me explain.


Retailers used promotions and free shipping to lure shoppers. Sales of luxury goods and jewelry drove the increase.

By TheStreet Staff Nov 30, 2010 11:47AM

Online Christmas © BilderLounge/SuperStock By Jeanine Poggi, TheStreet


Online sales on Cyber Monday climbed 19.4% from a year earlier, helped by demand for jewelry and luxury goods.


The average order value grew 8.3% to $194.89 from $180.03, according to Coremetrics, a unit of IBM (IBM).


Shoppers have been increasingly turning to the Web for holiday gifts in recent years. Retailers, battling a sluggish economy for a third straight year, rolled out special online-only promotions and shipping deals to draw consumers.


The user experience keeps getting better in this rebellion against cable. No wonder people are buying the service -- and the stock.

By Jim Cramer Nov 30, 2010 10:00AM

jim cramerMaybe it all comes down to whether or not you use Netflix (NFLX). Because if you do, you understand why it is so terrific and why it could rally 7 more points. If you don't, then you are in Nowheresville.


I have been cribbing off my kids' Netflix ID, since in a roundabout way, I pay for them. But I decided to open my own account this weekend because they don't want me messing with the queue anymore.


I am still in the mail-order game, getting the DVD I want to watch when I want it. I do that because even though I have FIOS and DirecTV (DTV) (hopeless football fan) and have had Comcast (CMCSA), I frequently find there's nothing on the dial I want to watch when I want it.



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Market index data delayed by 15 minutes

[BRIEFING.COM] At midday, the major averages hover just below their best levels of the session. The Nasdaq (+0.8%) leads, while the S&P 500 trades higher by 0.7% with all ten sectors showing gains.

The stock market began the session on a modestly higher note after overnight action did little to upset the sentiment. China reported its Q1 GDP, but the announcement was a bit of a mixed bag as the annualized reading of 7.4% beat estimates (7.3%), while the quarter-over-quarter growth of ... More


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