4 market stories to watch for the rest of the year
Any twists in these dramas could impact stocks and bonds. Keep your eye on them.
Here's hoping you sounded every last chime of the summer, because Tuesday marks the first day of the rest of the year.
Summer, after all, is a dainty season of linen and little news, but as of Tuesday, you better roust yourself from that slumber.
The record-setting Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) has risen nearly 3 percent since Memorial Day -- about half the year’s gains -- but the universe does not hold still forever.
Now it's back to reality. That's why September is, historically, such a God-awful month for stocks. Reality tends to bite. Before you get back to toting barges and lifting bales, though, take a moment. You need a sight line from which you can see -- or, at least, attempt to see -- the news stories that will define the rest of the year.
After all, nothing jumps a Wall Street nerve like a surprise. So, even with the recent gross domestic product numbers returning color to traders' cheeks, don’t allow yourself to fall victim to surprise. Between now and when the clock strikes that 12th hour on New Year's Eve, stay vigilant for certain stories. Remember, too, that it is twists in news stories -- those unforeseen turns -- that most impact stocks and bonds.
So here are the news stories we will see between now and New Year's, all in honor of our dearly, departed summer, served with a twist:
Story: Oil's happy tale turns sad
Oil prices have been a happy story during our lazy river of a summer, with prices plummeting as United States refinery production reached all-time highs. From late July to late August alone, prices at the pump dropped a dime. Put that in your Prius and smoke it.
The media, never one for a similar level of understatement, has in response run headlines like this one from The New York Times: "A New American Oil Bonanza."
The problem? The media have been almost willfully naïve about the prospect of the ISIS terrorist offensive overrunning Iraq's super-productive southern oil fields. We might be hearing a thing or two about that coming up.
The twist: Libya. Once everyone's focus turns to those southern Iraqi oil fields, Libyan oil ports, recently revived, may fall victim to the gathering violence of insurgents there.
Story: President Obama officially becomes a lame duck
Wall Street hates Obama. In fact, the only thing Wall Street will hate more than Obama is . . . Obama becoming a lame duck.
He is on his way. The fact that, as so many corners of the world were imploding, Obama, looking disinterested, said "we don't have a strategy yet" will prove his Katrina moment, the precise second when most Americans turned away for good.
By most measures, stocks perform equally well under Democrats and Republicans, but rudderlessness (and we're headed toward it) does not play well.
The twist: Hillary Clinton, the early favorite for 2016, will falter -- at least for a time -- causing a bad situation to get worse. As secretary of state in the period of time leading up to this worldwide implosion, she has some 'splainin to do. If the recent need to "hug it out" with Obama on Martha's Vineyard is any indication, it won't be pretty. Again: In terms of political party, the stock market is agnostic. But uncertainty is always the stock market's unseen enemy.
Story: Cold war chic
Until recently, the revisited threat from Russia has not really been noted, at least to the degree it exists. There has been a surreal quality with comic undertones to Vladimir Putin cheering at the Judo World Cup in Siberia, riding shirtless on horseback or cracking down on Pussy Riot.
Russia -- like rambling, crazed, searing Russian novels -- is a piece of work and hard to figure out at first. Soon, though, the reality is going to set in: Russia is serious trouble.
The twist: China. With focus on the Middle East and Russia, China will make mischief. Geopolitical history is filled with powerful countries taking advantage of a distracted world. China could take the opportunity to meddle even more in Hong Kong or forge a mischievous alignment with Russia. Not good.
Story: The Google/Amazon spat will define big technology
Once the two started fighting about who will be the first to deliver by drone, you knew the fight would get ugly.
The twist: This is not a fight of equals. Amazon (AMZN) will lose. Google (GOOG) is playing Amazon's game, and no one has ever fought them on an even plane before, even trying to beat them to the attention-grabbing punch.
Amazon's competition has always come piecemeal, partly from bookstores and partly from Best Buy (BBY). Going up against a big boy for the first time, the results could be ugly. Look for traders to hold Amazon's feet to the fire for the first time since pretty much forever. Two decades might be the market's limit for pixie dust.
Tuesday drops the beat on the rest of the year. Just do yourself a favor this fall and don't let any of these surprise news stories drop on your head.
More from MarketWatch
Alibaba and the 40 THIEVES.
So just because it's a Chinese company doesn't mean you'll be taken to the cleaners, does it?
I'm in the camp that trusts a communist country over a free one. China is more transparent about business matters right? They have something like the SEC, it's called the PUPU, and they execute business executives guilty of fraud. I'm still waiting for an arrest in the MBS that sunk our economy, but the Chinese know how to play fair.
"Sept 3- Inc expanded its deal with to sell the beverage company's pods in its Keurig hot brewing machines in North America.
It will be the first product to be made available in Keurig's hot brewing system, and follows the purchase by Coca-Cola of a stake in the company in February."
The little plastic container is made from an oil derivative and clogging up landfills. You can't steep a bio-degradable bag in a cup, America? Keurig is a pollution generator and YOU are investing in it, idiots.
"WASHINGTON- New orders for U.S. factory goods jumped in July and automobile sales in August were unexpectedly strong, offering further signs of strength in the manufacturing sector.
The Commerce Department said on Wednesday new orders for manufactured goods increased a record 10.5 percent on robust demand for transportation equipment. June's orders were revised to show a 1.5 percent increase instead of the previously reported 1.1 percent rise."
Outside of guns, gold and ammo purchased with fixed income and fake market money... WHAT did a fully destitute America buy to warrant manufacturing increases? We don't make what we need or use in America any longer. It's all imported.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Chrysler, Honda and Toyota all count the family shuttles among their top-selling vehicles, while Kia is giving its new model a big push.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.
Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.
Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.