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.
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Studies show that retailers favored by lower-income households will get squeezed more by high gas prices and continued unemployment.
And which retailers aren't as vulnerable to changes at the pump? Costco (COST), Macy's (M) and BJ's Wholesale Club (BJ).
The reason is because poorer families in America are hurt more by gas price hikes and high unemployment levels, Bloomberg reports. And poorer families prefer to shop at Wal-Mart, one analyst says.
The analyst, Richard Hastings of Global Hunter Securities, studied the income levels of shoppers and found that 82% of Wal-Mart shoppers make less than $75,000 a year. That compares with 63% of BJ's shoppers and 55% of Costco members that make less than $75,000 a year.
Nuclear power is under scrutiny as Japanese reactors overheat, leading some investors to take a new look at solar stocks.
Updated: 4:49 p.m. ET
Uranium stocks are getting killed today, and alternative energy is seeing renewed interest.
Look at the list of the biggest losers in the U.S. market. At the top is Uranium Resources (URRE), followed by Ur Energy (URG) and Uranium Energy (UEC). All three stocks are down more than 19%.
These stocks had great momentum heading into this month. Countries around the world had been planning new fleets of nuclear power stations, Dow Jones reports. But after several Japanese reactors overheated, with uranium rods likely melting at a third facility, investors fear the world may be rethinking those nuclear plans.
Other uranium stocks getting hit today include Cameco (CCJ), the largest publicly traded uranium miner, down 12.7%. Denison Mines (DNN) is down 22.5%, Uranium One(SXRZF) plunged 27.9%, and Bannerman Resources (BNNLF) was off 29.6%.
The tablet's strong debut drew long lines for short supplies, giving tech investors some encouragement.
By Scott Moritz, TheStreet
The rush came early Friday.
Online orders were brisk, and iPad 2 availability, starting at two to four days, quickly sold out in the afternoon, with delivery dates moving back to two to three weeks. Apple is now listing three to four weeks as the delivery time.
The Japanese carmakers have halted production for several days.
Updated: 4:52 p.m. ET
By Ted Reed, TheStreet
The country's automakers have shut down domestic production as the earthquake triggered supply chain interruptions and power outages and hindered the ability of employees to get to work.
Shares of Toyota closed at $81.73, down 4.6%. Shares of Honda fell 4% to $38.17.
The former bassist for Guns N' Roses spent 17 years learning about finance. Now he's starting a money management firm.
He found a file with six years' worth of the band's financials, and he started reading them, Fortune reports. It was like reading another language; he had no idea how much his band was making (or losing). And he wanted to know more.
Fast-forward 17 years. McKagan has learned so much about money that he's now starting his own wealth management firm with a focus on musicians. The goal, according to Fortune, is to "educate rockers about their finances instead of pandering or lying to them."
It's funny to think of a world-famous rocker taking a community college class, but that's exactly what McKagan did. He studied basic finance at Santa Monica Community College and enrolled in another community college in Seattle. He worked his way up to Seattle University's Albers School of Business, Fortune reports.
Coach and Tiffany are among the retail stocks affected by the devastation.
By Jeanine Poggi, TheStreet
Wall Street Strategies analyst Brian Sozzi attributes these declines to the premium at which both stocks are valued relative to the overall retail sector and equities markets.
"Consequently, any swift decline in sales, despite muddling growth in the country for each, raises the risk to future earnings," he wrote in a note. "Both companies in my view have been managing their Japanese businesses to profitability rather than new unit growth."
It's not cheap, but it's worth it.
A couple of months ago, I recommended Lululemon Athletica to all my readers. Fool analyst Ilan Moscovitz -- who is also managing a real-money portfolio for The Motley Fool -- envisions great upside for this retailer, as well.
Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks Editor
The Dada portfolio has bought retail stocks in the past. We think there are some good opportunities in the consumer sector, but we're a bit worried about middle-tier consumer goods. Not only is the U.S. middle class in danger of being hollowed out by high unemployment and rising income inequality, but value-conscious consumers have also responded to the recession by saving on middle-tier goods and buying a small number of expensive items.
So when buying retailers, we like to focus on cheap stocks, strong operators, and/or high-end brands. Today's pick -- Lululemon Athletica (LULU) -- meets the latter two criteria in spades, though its stock is hardly cheap.
Japan's earthquake and tsunami and the crisis in the Middle East and North Africa will weigh heavily on several funds.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
Here are five exchanged-traded funds to keep an eye on in the days ahead.
Japan will be closely watched as the nation takes initial steps to rebuild after Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami.
The Japanese marketplace had proven to be an attractive destination in recent months as internationally-minded investors opt for exposure to developed economies. According to the February flow report released by the National Stock Exchange, EWJ saw the second largest inflows among the entire ETF universe.
In the coming days, EWJ will be volatile. However, as political and economic tensions continue weighing on the emerging world, this fund may be one to keep on the radar.
Rebuilding will run down the stricken nation's financial wealth to replace lost physical assets.
By Peter Morici, TheStreet
GDP, which measures goods and services produced, will immediately dive in Japan and stay lower through the second and into the third quarters of 2011. Then it will surge as construction and spending on capital equipment to rebuild drive up growth.
Overall, however, Japan will be poorer for this disaster. Lost infrastructure, factories and the like will be replaced, but wealth is the sum of what citizens and governments own -- including physical assets like those just noted and financial wealth such as securities and cash. Rebuilding will run down Japan's financial wealth to replace lost physical assets.
Let's try to make some money in a market likely to move lower.
The absolute-return approach is perfect for this sort of market. Stocks are having trouble gaining momentum and are susceptible to declines, as was the case last week.
I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing individual companies over the past few weeks. What I found should be troubling for any bull: Most stocks are fully priced or overpriced, based on fundamental valuation metrics.
Forget about the headline causes for stocks to sell off. We are going lower because most stocks have gotten a bit ahead of themselves from and earnings standpoint. The negative headlines only add downward pressure.
In such an environment, a balance of longs and shorts is the appropriate course of action for any ETF trader. I’m increasing my exposure to the short side of the market with the inclusion of the ProShares Ultra Short Technology ETF (REW).
The disaster in Japan likely means the end of nuclear energy, in the US and abroad, and a greater reliance on natural gas.
With the nuclear-powered reactors in Japan still smoldering, it's not easy to know what to do. It is easier to pretend to know what to do or to take a blind stab. Or just to cash out. As easy as it was 25 years ago when Chernobyl exploded.
When that happened, the world panicked. All sorts of disaster scenarios existed, in part because of the amazing lack of information coming out of the Soviet Union and the radically escalated levels of radiation showing up in Sweden, which triggered the first word of the accident.
The lack of knowledge directly affected subsequent trading. Food and restaurant stocks were hit especially hard because people thought Chernobyl was uncontainable and no one would be able to eat anything but canned food until the radiation cloud dispersed. Yes, it was that scary.
This time around we know more about the event, but, again, because of radiation fears and the ongoing nature of the tragedy, snap judgments will be as wrong as they were back then. In 1986, I tried to keep calm, but my investors didn't and many went into cash.
Spain's economic growth is on the rise, and the debt markets have decided to give the country a pass.
The tablet goes on sale today, and analysts expect it to sell faster than the original.
The lines are growing outside of Apple stores. One woman grabbed the first spot in line at Apple's flagship store in New York City, and after 41 hours of waiting sold her spot for $900, Mashable reports. She plans to buy Lady Gaga concert tickets with the money.
Apple has been through this before. It sold 300,000 of its first iPad in 24 hours, and the device went on to become the fastest-selling technology gadget in history, from a revenue standpoint, Bloomberg reports. Analyst Brian Marshall of Gleacher & Co. expects 600,000 iPad 2s to be sold this weekend. If his prediction proves true, the iPad 2 would smash the record set by its predecessor.
Funds linked to the world's most prevalent industrial metal can often predict mood shifts.
By Gary Gordon, TheStreet
The worldwide bull market for stocks turned two years old on March 9, 2011. And so far, there have been two meaningful corrections -- one in 2009 and one in 2010.
Some in the media have suggested that the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) might not experience any significant pullback, like the way U.S. stocks behaved in 1995. Others believe that stock assets will get knocked for a major headache, but eventually stake a claim to new heights.
There is a third possibility. Commodity price inflation, real estate struggles, Middle East uncertainty, eurozone debt, rising interest rates and U.S. deficit woes collectively undermine faith in the toddling bull market. After all, they don't call it the "terrible twos" for nothing!
If you were expecting Japan's disastrous temblor to rock US markets, consider what some economics professors discovered 20 years ago.
By Mark Hulbert, MarketWatch
The U.S. stock market appears to be largely shrugging off news this morning of the most powerful earthquake to hit Japan in more than 100 years.
That surprises many observers, especially those old timers who remember a nightmare scenario that haunted many in the early 1980s. That's when the Japanese economy was riding high and Tokyo real estate was the most expensive in the world.
Analysts worried about what would happen if a major earthquake hit Japan, triggering huge claims against insurance companies, which in turn would have to liquidate major portions of their stock and bond holdings in the United States. Cover stories in some financial magazines were devoted to the stock market crash that would result. Still, from a different perspective, the market's reaction Friday morning does not come as a particular surprise.
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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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