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VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

Discount brokers are seeing big jumps in business as small investors get back into the game.

By MSN Money Partner 37 minutes ago
Image: Stocks circled in newspaper © Digital Vision/Getty ImagesBy Julie Steinberg, The Wall Street Journal

Small investors are putting a little high frequency into their own trading.


Discount brokers TD Ameritrade Holding (AMTD) and E*Trade Financial (ETFC) on Wednesday reported big jumps in daily trading volume in the first quarter from the same period a year ago. 


TD Ameritrade posted a 30 percent jump to a record 492,000 revenue-generating trades a day, while E*Trade said average daily volume rose 33 percent to 198,000. Charles Schwab (SCHW) last week reported a 13 percent increase in volume to 337,300 trades a day.


Executives attributed the growth to strong returns from stocks in recent years, more widespread adoption of mobile-trading technology and the lack of alternatives to stocks in a period of historically low interest rates. More market volatility during the first quarter added to trading volume, executives said.

 

Delivering packages will give the company, stung by shipping delays last Christmas, more control over the shopping experience.

By MSN Money Partner 1 hour ago
Credit: © digitallife/Alamy

Caption: Amazon.com website on a computer screenBy Greg Bensinger and Laura Stevens, The Wall Street Journal

The future of Amazon (AMZN) is hiding in plain sight in a San Francisco parking lot.


There, adjacent to recently closed Candlestick Park, Amazon is testing its own delivery network for "the last mile," the final leg of a package's journey to consumers' doorsteps. 


Trucks loaded with Amazon packages and driven by Amazon-supervised contractors leave this parking lot for homes and offices around San Francisco. Similar efforts are under way in Los Angeles and New York.


Delivering its own packages will give Amazon, stung by shipping delays last Christmas, more control over the shopping experience. The retailer will gain flexibility regarding when packages are delivered and help in containing shipping expenses, which grew 29 percent last year. As a percentage of sales, Amazon's shipping costs have grown each year since 2009, according to securities filings.

 

The company reports its first-quarter results, and weather, international sales and CEO succession will all likely be in focus.

By Benzinga 2 hours ago

Credit: © Ford Motor Company
Caption: Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup truckBy Nelson Hem


Ford (F), which this week announced who will replace departing CEO Alan Mulally, is scheduled to report its first-quarter 2014 results Friday before the markets open.


Investors will be looking for continued strength in North America, Ford's biggest market, but also in China, where it overtook Honda and Toyota last year. They will want to see some sign of improvement in European operations. As with many other earnings reports this season, weather in the quarter is likely to be a factor.


Analysts on average predict that Ford will report that its revenue for the quarter increased marginally year-over-year to $34.06 billion. Earnings of $0.31 per share are also in the consensus forecast. That would be down from a reported profit of $0.41 per share in the comparable period of last year.

 

After an endless stream of promotional offers, the company is going back to its roots. It's trying to find a strategy that works.

By MSN Money Partner 3 hours ago
File photo of a McDonald's restaurant in Suffolk, England (© Geography Photos/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)By Claire Zillman, Fortune

McDonald's (MCD) is having a bit of an identity crisis.


The burger behemoth announced a 5.2 percent drop in profits for the first three months of 2014 and a 1.7 percent decrease in same-store sales in the U.S. on Tuesday. President and CEO Don Thompson emphasized that McDonald's would be focusing on its core products, like its Big Mac, Egg McMuffin, and its famous french fries.


Thompson's back-to-basics vow comes in response to the sort of menu creep the chain experienced in 2013, when it rolled out a seemingly endless stream of limited-time offers, like its Mighty Wings, a steak and egg burrito, a steak breakfast sandwich, a new Quarter pounder, a grilled onion cheddar burger, the Hot n' Spicy McChicken, and a product that the restaurant must have questioned from the start: Fish McBites. 

 

Tomorrow's billionaires are being raised on technology, and their money management will grow increasingly social, transparent and sophisticated.

By MSN Money Partner 3 hours ago
Image: Two woman looking at laptop computer © Whisson, Jordan, CorbisBy Lawrence Delevingne, CNBC

Lots of start-up funding. Crowd-sourced investment ideas. Real-time low-cost portfolio monitoring. An emphasis on environmental and social impact.


Call it the Silicon Valley effect on the future of money management for the global ultrawealthy.


Those are some of the broad themes that CNBC.com heard from leading family offices, private banks and other experts in an effort to understand how the world's wealthiest people will manage their fortunes in 25 years.


In 2039, today's 20- and 30-something multimillionaires and billionaires will be in their 50s and 60s.

 

The company knocked it out of the park this quarter, but is that enough of a reason for you to jump in?

By Motley Fool Investor Beat 3 hours ago
Shares of biopharma giant Gilead Sciences (GILD) were up Wednesday after it announced a strong quarter, which included revenue doubling to $5 billion and earnings per share tripling from $0.43 to $1.33.

Most of the company's strength this quarter came from its hepatitis C drug Sovaldi. Sales of the drug hit $2.3 billion this quarter, which was incredible considering it was the first full quarter the drug was on the market. It also didn't hurt that sales of Stribild, Gilead's HIV pill, were up 134 percent year-over-year. 
Tags: ABBVGILD

The new restaurant, the first of which will open this summer, features premium tacos, fries, craft beer and wine.

By MSN Money Partner 4 hours ago
U.S. Taco Co., Via Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/ustacos
U.S. Taco Co. LogoBy Hayley Peterson, Business Insider

Taco Bell is launching a new upscale taco chain.

The restaurant, called U.S. Taco Co. and Urban Taproom, will feature a menu of 10 premium tacos, thick-cut fries, milkshakes, craft beer, and wine, according to Nation's Restaurant News, an industry publication. 


The first location is set to open in Huntington Beach, Calif., this summer. Taco Bell declined to elaborate on expansion plans.


Here are some of the menu items, according to NRN.

 
Tags: CMGYUM

After a decade of innovation, the company's well has run dry.

By MSN Money Partner 4 hours ago
Caption: Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller announces the new iPad Air
Credit: © Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesBy Howard Gold, MarketWatch

Apple (AAPL) put on a great show for investors in its earnings report Wednesday after the stock market closed.


The company reported quarterly earnings that were much better than analysts had expected on stronger-than-anticipated iPhone sales. Apple said it would return $130 billion to investors through 2015. And it announced a seven-for-one stock split, which would make it much easier for retail investors to buy the shares.


But iPad sales were very disappointing, and the company announced no new products, nor would it give guidance on when they might be coming.


The excellent earnings and the extra financial engineering may help Apple shares in the short run -- the shares surged 8 percent in after-hours trading and were up 8 percent Thursday to $567.39.

 

People are spending more and more time in front of little screens, and these tech giants are capitalizing beautifully.

By Jim Cramer 6 hours ago

The Facebook logo is seen on an Apple iPhone © Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesYou know what was lost in the shuffle of all of the reports last night? How about spending? Specifically, how much are consumers worldwide spending on their devices, particularly when it comes to their expensive cellphones? How about: How much are advertisers spending online, and what results are they getting? Those were the twin takeaways from Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB), and I think they are still just beginning to materialize.


We talk a lot about how there are regions of the global economy that are waxing and waning, but given the secular growth in consumer and advertising spending online, this remains the fastest-growing sector in the world. You just don't get the kind of growth that Apple and Facebook are getting without spending by the Chinese, Russians, Brazilians, Indonesians, Europeans and Americans.

 

In a volatile market, retirement fund managers are all about maximizing safety and value. Should these additions have a place in your portfolio?

By StreetAuthority 6 hours ago
Image: Stocks circled in newspaper © Digital Vision/Getty ImagesBy Eric Winter

As we enter earnings season for the first quarter of 2014, we are also seeing a number of 13F filings roll out ahead of the May 15 deadline as well.

These SEC forms outline a fund's long-only equity positions (as well as some debt and option trades) but omit short and international positions. However, we're still often able to get a good idea of a fund's portfolio depending on its investing methodology.

The California Public Employees Retirement System is one such asset manager whose 13F can provide a fair amount of clarity to retail investors.

CalPERS is the largest public pension fund in the U.S., carrying a staggering market value of $288 billion as of this month. Capital is divided across strategies emphasizing growth, income, liquidity and real assets, among others. Its equity holdings posted a gain of 25.6 percent last year, with total assets gaining 16 percent in 2013, the largest appreciation in 11 years. 

Stocks are facing some serious resistance as the bears tear into the market's respite.

By InvestorPlace 24 hours ago

Credit: © Andy Clark/Reuters

Caption: A customer enters the Lululemon store in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia November 8, 2013By Anthony Mirhaydari


After a two-week reprieve, the bears were on the attack again Wednesday.


Stocks are contending with some serious overhead technical resistance. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) has moved into a resistance zone going back to December, spanning the range between 16,600 and 16,500. For its part, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite ($COMPX) has hit downtrend channel resistance around the 4150 level.


The situation looked vulnerable after the low-volume, narrow-breadth rebound out of the lows set earlier this month. The evidence suggested that much of the motivation for the rebound was short-covering activity in the big tech and biotech stocks that have been such a drag on overall activity since March.

 

These ETFs are benchmarked to extremely out-of-favor foreign markets that most investors would quickly pass over. Whoever said being a contrarian was easy?

By MSN Money Partner Wed 2:36 PM
Image: Globe with money © PhotoAlto/SuperStockBy Mark Hulbert, MarketWatch

Do you do more than just talk the talk about being a contrarian investor, but actually walk the walk? Here’s a way to find out: Would you invest in the stock markets of Greece, Argentina or Russia?


I can hear the cries of anguish: You mean contrarian investing means risking your assets in the stock markets of countries that are in as awful shape as those of these three?


Greece is still a basket case, and Argentina is struggling with a currency crisis. The Russian economy, already in shambles, could face international sanctions and isolation over its aggressive behavior in Ukraine and, as a result, suffer an even more serious downturn.

 

Banks are being forced to return to their utilitarian roots. But will they be able to make money?

By StreetAuthority Wed 2:15 PM
Credit: © Chris Minerva/Getty Images
Caption: A bank sign on a buildingBy Adam Fischbaum

My grandmother, a schoolteacher, was widowed at a relatively early age. She inherited a relatively small nest egg my grandfather, a rabbi, had built that included a couple of municipal bonds and 90 shares of stock in a small local bank started by a handful of his congregants.

At the time of her death 40 years later, the bank had grown into one of the largest regional players in the business.

Those 90 shares had grown through mergers, splits and stock dividends to over 12,000 shares, with a value of close to $300,000. Not a fortune -- but not too shabby.

Was she some kind of investing genius? She was a smart cookie, but no. She held the stock for what seemed like forever. She banked there forever. She knew the business inside and out. She liked the 5 percent rain-or-shine dividend.  

Wall Street is getting more selective and demanding profits from this hyped-up sector.

By InvestorPlace Wed 2:01 PM

Credit: © Rick Wilking

Caption: Boxes from Amazon.com are pictured on the porch of a houseBy Jeff Reeves


Tech stocks have been mighty choppy this year.


On one hand, Facebook (FB) is up strongly on the year, with 15 percent gains so far in 2014 after great earnings in January. On the other hand, e-commerce darling Amazon (AMZN) has shed more than 16 percent as investors worry about profitability in the wake of a fourth-quarter earnings miss.


Similarly, the initial public offering space is muddled for tech stocks. Some recent tech IPOs are up strongly -- like China's 500.com (WBAI), which has almost tripled from its December offering price. Other recent issues, like the IPO of mobile video game studio King Entertainment (KING) -- which sold off on its first day of trading and remains down since going public in March -- have gone pretty poorly.

 

The company's blowout quarterly report was a surprise to many professionals watching the stock.

By Benzinga Wed 1:23 PM

Credit: © Noah Berger/Bloomberg News/Getty Images
Caption: The Gilead Sciences Inc. offices in Foster City, Calif.By Tim Parker


Many investors would argue that the analyst community doesn't get much of anything right.


But normally, analysts aren't more than a few cents off when predicting a company's quarterly per-share earnings.


So how did the analyst community get Tuesday's Gilead (GILD) numbers so shockingly wrong?


After the bell, the company reported per-share earnings of $1.48, excluding certain items, on revenue of $5 billion. Analysts predicted EPS of only 91 cents on revenue of about $3.9 billion. Revenue was 98 percent higher year over year.

 

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