Investing Basics

I don’t want to bury the lead, so let me start with my prediction: the economy will add over 2 million jobs in the next 12 months. But before we get to that, let’s add some context. To say that the job market is weak would be like saying the Saw horror movie franchise is a little gory. In fact, I’m not sure which has seen more bloodletting. Last month, The Los Angeles Times reported that 2.3 million California workers have been axed — and that’s just in the Golden State. Read More

I don’t want to bury the lead, so let me start with my prediction: the economy will add over 2 million jobs in the next 12 months. But before we get to that, let’s add some context. To say that the job market is weak would be like saying the Saw horror movie franchise is a little gory. In fact, I’m not sure which has seen more bloodletting. Last month, The Los Angeles Times reported that 2.3 million California workers have been axed — and that’s just in the Golden State. Nationwide, the unemployment rate has remained at elevated levels above 9.5% for 15 consecutive months, the longest such drought on record. The last time we saw a “jobless recovery” of this magnitude was in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, more than 2.5 million jobs were lost in the 18 months following the terror attacks. At that point, it seemed as if the labor market would never get in gear. But by January 2004, payrolls around the country were already… Read More

Want to know how much power the Federal Reserve holds? Late Tuesday, the Fed announced it would spend $600 billion on a program of buying Treasury bonds. That’s in addition to what it will also spend by reinvesting the proceeds of other bonds it had purchased already. On Wednesday, the S&P soared nearly +2%, creating about $220 billion in market cap in a single day. I can’t say it was unexpected. You see, every year for my StreetAuthority Market Advisor readers,… Read More

Want to know how much power the Federal Reserve holds? Late Tuesday, the Fed announced it would spend $600 billion on a program of buying Treasury bonds. That’s in addition to what it will also spend by reinvesting the proceeds of other bonds it had purchased already. On Wednesday, the S&P soared nearly +2%, creating about $220 billion in market cap in a single day. I can’t say it was unexpected. You see, every year for my StreetAuthority Market Advisor readers, I put together two lists. First comes a list of my predictions for the coming year. Next is a list of my top 10 stocks for the year. About a week before the Fed’s announcement, I sent my predictions for 2011 to my subscribers. Prediction No. 9 called for this next round of quantitative easing, or as it’s more elegantly called, QE2. But that was only part of the prediction. Now that the first half came true, I also predicted exactly where I want to invest based on the news… and it’s looking good, too. Read More

A very large grain of salt. That’s what economists suggest you take when digesting Chinese economic numbers. The country’s financial planners tend to massage key numbers to give the impression of an economy that is neither too hot nor too cold. To its credit, China’s decade-long growth spurt has been truly miraculous and policy planners seem to continually pull the right levers, even though those choices are often antithetical to Western economic dogma. Much of China’s success has come from its status as a low-cost provider of goods and comparatively low levels of… Read More

A very large grain of salt. That’s what economists suggest you take when digesting Chinese economic numbers. The country’s financial planners tend to massage key numbers to give the impression of an economy that is neither too hot nor too cold. To its credit, China’s decade-long growth spurt has been truly miraculous and policy planners seem to continually pull the right levers, even though those choices are often antithetical to Western economic dogma. Much of China’s success has come from its status as a low-cost provider of goods and comparatively low levels of per capita GDP, which enabled it to grow without bumping into hurdles that often come when economies achieve world-class status. But those days are over. China’s economy is now far larger — having recently surpassed Japan to occupy the No. 2 spot — and the government ‘s task of managing growth has become ever-more complex. Even as Chinese economic planners will continue to massage the numbers to give the appearance of a smooth-sailing ship, 2011 offers more potential pitfalls than ever. If… Read More

You may think stocks are still attractively priced after the recent rebound — but that doesn’t matter. Instead, it’s more important what your peers think and do. Because if you’re buying while they’re selling, you’ll lose. And right now, many of your peers have a solid excuse for selling: year-end profits. The S&P 500 has risen nearly +15% since early September, and many individual stocks are up +40% or even +50% from the summer swoon. With a hike in the capital gains tax expected next year, many investors will look to secure profits now instead of later. Read More

You may think stocks are still attractively priced after the recent rebound — but that doesn’t matter. Instead, it’s more important what your peers think and do. Because if you’re buying while they’re selling, you’ll lose. And right now, many of your peers have a solid excuse for selling: year-end profits. The S&P 500 has risen nearly +15% since early September, and many individual stocks are up +40% or even +50% from the summer swoon. With a hike in the capital gains tax expected next year, many investors will look to secure profits now instead of later. As my colleague Ryan Fuhrmann noted back in September, the capital gains tax rate will rise from 15% to 20% in 2011. Investors can avoid capital gains by generating offsetting capital losses, but after the market’s massive 20-month surge, there are fewer losers to be culled from investors’ portfolios. #-ad_banner-#If investors start to tiptoe toward the exits, it could quickly morph into a larger move. Just like we’re seeing in the current rally where success begets success, failure also begets failure. The market seems to be locked into mini-cycles characterized by broadening rallies (March… Read More

A surging stock market has brought a smile to the face of investment bankers. They’ve suddenly found a much more receptive environment for new initial public offerings (IPOs), with 16 deals of at least $100 million being pulled off in October — the best month for IPOs this year. And… Read More

All eyes will be on Ben Bernanke this Wednesday as the Federal Reserve finally spells out the details of its much-anticipated second round of Quantitative Easing, known as “QE2.” [For more on QE2 and how it works, read this InvestingAnswers.com article] The Fed‘s efforts to stimulate the economy through bond buybacks have led investors to already open the champagne. As I noted recently, the S&P 500 has already appreciated by more than $1 trillion simply in anticipation of any presumed benefits. But in recent days, economists… Read More

All eyes will be on Ben Bernanke this Wednesday as the Federal Reserve finally spells out the details of its much-anticipated second round of Quantitative Easing, known as “QE2.” [For more on QE2 and how it works, read this InvestingAnswers.com article] The Fed‘s efforts to stimulate the economy through bond buybacks have led investors to already open the champagne. As I noted recently, the S&P 500 has already appreciated by more than $1 trillion simply in anticipation of any presumed benefits. But in recent days, economists are beginning to doubt whether Mr. Bernanke is going to bring out the large cannons, or simply a set of pea-shooters. More specifically, will QE2 be large enough to get the economy going, buying back up to $1 trillion in bonds, or will the Fed believe that a few hundred billion dollars will be sufficient? #-ad_banner-#A pair of fresh economic data points point to the latter. Last week, we saw a moderate drop in weekly jobless claims that makes it clear that unemployment is at least not getting worse at this point. And then on Monday… Read More

After a furious two-month rally that has pushed the major indices to yearly highs, it seems to be an appropriate time to look at stocks that have been receiving perhaps too much investor affection. When the market takes a breather, these are often the first stocks to be dumped by momentum investors. So, I ran a screen for stocks that have risen at least +40% in the last three months and sport projected 2011 price-to-earnings (P/E) multiples above 40. There are surely some high-growth names here, but there are also… Read More

After a furious two-month rally that has pushed the major indices to yearly highs, it seems to be an appropriate time to look at stocks that have been receiving perhaps too much investor affection. When the market takes a breather, these are often the first stocks to be dumped by momentum investors. So, I ran a screen for stocks that have risen at least +40% in the last three months and sport projected 2011 price-to-earnings (P/E) multiples above 40. There are surely some high-growth names here, but there are also low-growth stocks that, at least at first glance, don’t merit such a strong move. The logical rebounders Some of these stocks are here simply because they were likely too undervalued earlier in the summer. Back in July, I suggested that Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN), trading at $120, was due for a rally and predicted that “as investors start to once again embrace the company’s robust long-term outlook, shares should eventually power past the $150 mark seen earlier this spring.” With shares now at $170, it’s hard to… Read More