1/29 U.S. stocks poised to bounce back as Ford drives higher

Administrator - Thursday, 29 January 2015 08:24

Google, Ford, Alibaba, Amazon earnings in focus


[Most Recent Quotes from]
Gold stays in the red after Fed meeting
LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) — Gold turned lower on Thursday, failing to keep its momentum after getting slight bump in the immediate aftermath of the Federal Reserve’s statement.


Crude extends slide to trade close to 6-year low
LONDON (MarketWatch) — Oil traded around its lowest level in almost six years on Thursday, continuing its prior-day slide, when a larger-than-expected increase in U.S. crude supplies sent futures plunging.
Crude oil for March delivery CLH5, -0.04%  fell 14 cents, or 0.3%, to $44.31 a barrel, touching the lowest level since March 2009.


U.S. stocks poised to bounce back as Ford drives higher
MADRID (MarketWatch) — Shares of Ford Motor Co. and McDonald’s Corp. led the early charge for U.S. stock futures on Thursday, pointing to a rebound for markets after losses endured this week.

A rebound for technology stocks, however, may face headwinds after Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. delivered disappointing quarterly results.

Weekly jobless claims and home-sales data are coming up.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJH5, +0.29%  rose 74 points, or 0.4%, to 17,174, while those for the S&P 500 index SPH5, +0.05%  added 7.40 points to 1,999. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index NDH5, +0.02%  gained 9 points, or 0.2%, to 4,133.25.

Wednesday’s statement from the Federal Reserve’s policy-making committee implied a midyear hike is still a possibility. Read as some by hawkish, that view was enough to send Treasurys and the dollar higher, and stocks tumbling. The S&P 500 index SPX, -1.35%  lost 1.4%, and even the Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.93%  fell 0.9% as a big gain by Apple Inc. AAPL, +0.72%  wasn’t enough to keep it in the green.

Panic appeared to be receding somewhat on Thursday, though. “Traders are penciling in June for a rate rise from the U.S. central bank, but if energy prices remain weak, it could be pushed further out,” said David Madden, market analyst at IG.

“The U.S. recovery is going to plan, but the Fed’s decision will be influenced by factors outside its control,” he said in a note.

Weekly jobless-claims data is coming at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, with pending-home sales for December coming at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Corporate moves: McDonald’s   MCD, +3.06%  gained over 3% after the fast-food giant announced that President and CEO Don Thompson will retire March 1, and Chief Brand Officer Steve Easterbrook will take his place.

Alibaba BABA, -5.75%  shares dove 6% in premarket trade after worse -than-expected sales gains.

Ford F, +1.73% F, +1.73% shares rose 2% after the automaker posted results.

Shares of Facebook FB, -0.29%  were barely higher after the social-networking company on Wednesday reported results that were slightly above consensus.

Qualcomm Inc. QCOM, -7.87%  shares skidded another 8% after falling in late trade on an outlook-cut from the chip maker.

ConocoPhilips COP, +0.51% Callaway Golf Co. ELY, -1.64%  and Harley-Davidson Inc. HOG, -0.32% are still to come. Inc. AMZN, +0.23%  and Google Inc. GOOG, +0.04%  are coming after the close.

Overseas markets: European stocks SXXP, -0.47%  came under moderate pressure — the oil and gas group in particular. Shares of Royal Dutch Shell PLC RDS.A, -2.78% RDS.B, -3.11%  fell 4% after the company said it plans to cut capital expenditure by about $15 billion over the next three years.

Oil prices CLH5, -0.04% were flat after nearing six-year lows, while gold GCG5, -1.35%   prices fell over 1% to $1,269.80 an ounce. The dollar DXY, -0.08%  drifted lower. In Asia, the Nikkei 225 NIK, -1.06%  retreated on earnings and Fed rate-hike worries.

1/28 Biggest OTC % Gainers/OTC % Losers /Top OTC Volume Movers

Administrator - Wednesday, 28 January 2015 07:29

Biggest OTC % Gainers/OTC % Losers /Top OTC Volume Movers 1/28 close:

After-hours buzz: Facebook, Qualcomm and more

Facebook — The social-networking company fluctuated, lately lower, in after-hours trading after posting quarterly earnings and revenue that surpassed expectations.

Las Vegas Sands — The casino operator gained in after-hours trading after it hiked its dividend.

Tractor Supply — The operator of farm-and-ranch stores declined after releasing quarterly results.

Qualcomm — The technology provider fell in after-hours trading after it cut its chip guidance for the second half of 2015.


Stocks are volatile but directionless
One trademark of this market is that extreme intraday volatility is the name of the game. Another trademark of this market is that one day seemingly has little or no influence on the next.


ScreenHunter_426 Jan. 28 18.52

U.S. stocks sell off after Fed meeting
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — U.S. stocks ended Wednesday’s choppy trading session sharply lower after the Federal Reserve’s policy-making committee reiterated it plans to remain patient and watch the data as it decides when to raise interest rates.

Sharp losses added to declines from Tuesday, when markets sold off after disappointing earnings and economic data. A renewed slide in oil prices Wednesday sent energy and materials stocks sharply lower.

The Fed gave no sign that it is wavering on hiking interest rates some time in the second half of 2015. The U.S. central bank was upbeat about the economy, while the policy makers repeated that they think inflation will move back to the 2% target after being pushed down by temporary factors.

The statement was taken as hawkish and sent the dollar and Treasurys sharply higher, as investors sought the safety of havens.

The S&P 500 SPX, -1.35% closed 27.39 points, or 1.4%, lower at 2,002.23, with all 10 main sectors finishing in the red. The energy sector fell 3.9%, as oil fell to lowest levels since March 2009.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -1.13%  dropped 195.84 points, or 1.1%, to 17,191.37, with 27 of its 30 components ending lower. Boeing Co BA, +5.40%   was the top gainer, while Chevron CVX, -4.20%  , Exxon Mobil Corp XOM, -3.30%   and Microsoft MSFT, -0.01%  were the laggards.

The Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.93%  turned a big opening advance into a loss by the end of the session, falling 43.50 points, or 0.9%, to 4,637.99, as Apple’s big gain was not enough to keep the index in the green.

Apple’s earnings surprised even the most bullish analysts as the tech giant reported an $18 billion profit in the latest quarter, sending its share price up 5.7%.

Joseph Saluzzi, co-founder and co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading, said stocks reacted to big swings in currency and bond markets.

“Stock markets would like to see zero rates forever, but the Fed statement did not give them any hopes of that. Meanwhile, bond yields dropped dramatically, signalling that the economy is not doing as well as the Fed is suggesting,” Saluzzi said.


Apple passes the market torch to Facebook and the Fed

Facebook, Boeing, Qualcomm earnings in focus:


U.S. stocks: Nasdaq futures gain, but others wobble
LONDON (MarketWatch) — Nasdaq looked poised for an upbeat session on Wednesday, with Apple Inc. set to do the heavy lifting in the wake of the iPhone maker’s blowout earnings.

Other stock futures, however, pointed to a wobbly trading session as concerns about corporate earnings weighed on investors’ minds.

Investors also are awaiting earnings from Boeing Co. and other companies as well as the outcome of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting.

Leading the way higher, futures for the Nasdaq-100 NDH5, +0.90%  surged 35 points, or 0.8%, to 4,212.50. Those for the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJH5, -0.13%  erased an earlier gain and slipped 24 points, or 0.1%, to 17,354, while futures for the S&P 500 index SPH5, +0.19%  gained 2.40 points, or 0.1%, to 2,032.40.

Investors had a right to be wary, considering the carnage on Wall Street Tuesday. U.S. stocks saw the biggest drop in three weeks, hammered by disappointing earnings from economic bellwethers such as Caterpillar Inc. CAT, +0.69% Microsoft Corp. MSFT, +0.56%  and a sharp fall in durable-goods orders. Among the losses, the S&P 500 index SPX, -1.34%  fell 1.3%.

Apple and Fed: Apple was set to help turn sentiment around on Wednesday, at least for techs, after reporting another record for its flagship iPhone, with 74.5 million phones sold in the fiscal first quarter. Profit rose 38% to a record high and shares jumped 7.1% in premarket trade.

The only economic event for Wednesday is the FOMC announcement, due at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. The two-day meeting isn’t expected to produce any major changes to the Fed’s statement, and Goldman Sachs and others expect the first hike in short-term interest rates by September. But Ellen Zentner, economist at Morgan Stanley said Tuesday that she doesn’t expect a Fed hike until March 2016, partly because the downward pressure on inflation is stronger than expected.

A strong dollar, which has been cutting into corporate earnings, and weak oil prices mean investors are hoping the Fed will delay that hike, and they will be looking for a signal from the statement.

Yahoo, Boeing in focus: Shares of Boeing BA, -1.19%  could be active, with earnings expected ahead of the opening bell.

Yahoo Inc. YHOO, +6.31%  leapt 7.6% ahead of the bell after the Internet search engine late Tuesday said it would spin off its Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. BABA, +0.06% stake into a separate, publicly traded company.

U.S. Steel Corp. X, +8.60%  jumped 9.6% premarket after the steel producer’s earnings that were released on Tuesday topped Wall Street estimates.

Abiomed Inc. ABMD, +29.41%  surged 29% in late trade on Tuesday after the medical device maker posted earnings that blew out Wall Street estimates.

On the downside, Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. ETC, -1.36%  could follow up a 13% late-session drop after weaker-than-expected results in its holiday quarter.

1/27 U.S. stocks suffer biggest drop in 3 week

Administrator - Tuesday, 27 January 2015 07:34

Biggest OTC % Gainers/OTC % Losers /Top OTC Volume Movers 1/27 close:

Nasdaq Scans 1/27:

After-hours buzz: AT&T, Apple, Yahoo & more

Amgen – The biotechnology company advanced in extended-hours trading after tallying better-than-estimated fourth-quarter profit.

Apple – The maker of consumer technology gained in after-hours trading after reporting beats on both its top and bottom lines.

AT&T – The wireless carrier rose in extended-hours trading after it reported fourth-quarter revenue above estimates.

Electronic Arts – The video game publisher advanced after posting an almost 40 percent gain in quarterly profit.

Yahoo – The search engine jumped after saying it would spin off its remaining stake in Alibaba Group Holding.


ScreenHunter_425 Jan. 27 18.58

U.S. stocks suffer biggest drop in 3 week
Durable-goods orders decline sharply in December
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — U.S. stocks recorded their biggest decline in three weeks on Tuesday, following a surprise drop in durable-goods orders and disappointing earnings from Microsoft Corp. and Caterpillar Inc.

The weak data stoked fears that economic growth is decelerating

The S&P 500 SPX, -1.34%  closed down 27.53 points, or 1.3%, at 2,029.56, as Microsoft Corp. MSFT, +0.23%  and Caterpillar Inc. CAT, +0.44%  plunged to lead losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -1.65%  dropped as much as 380 points, but closed down 291.49 points, or 1.7%, at 17,387.21. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, -1.89%  ended the day with a loss of 90.27 points, or 1.9%, at 4,681.50, as its largest component, Apple Inc. AAPL, +5.76% slid 3.5%.

Jonathan Golub, chief market strategist at RBC Capital Markets, said weakness in economic data and company earnings are behind the selloff.

“Markets are down nicely, but in larger contexts, they are off only 3-4% from their peaks. This does not alter our general view that markets will gain in 2015. U.S. stocks will benefit from capital flows from foreign investors, due to stronger dollar and relative strength of our economy,” Golub said.

Tuesday’s unexpected drop in orders for durable goods aren’t a worry because they support his projection that the economy will grow 2.5%, rather than the consensus call of 3%, he said.

“We believe the 2.5% growth is the new benchmark,” he added.

Economists had expected a modest rise, but orders fell 3.4% in December, and November data were also revised downward. Analysts said the data will make the Federal Reserve’s task of raising rates this year harder.

Colin Cieszynski, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said the negative effects of the plunge in commodities prices are showing up in economic data, but the benefits are lagging.

“The slowdown pushes the Fed’s rate-hike schedule a bit further into the fall or even toward the end of the year. We expect to see some more layoffs due to cuts in capex in the energy sector. It will take some time before consumers realize that low gas prices are here to stay and open up their purses,” Cieszynski said.

Separately, U.S. house prices edged back 0.2% in November, to lower the year-over-year advance to 4.3%, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite index released Tuesday. On a seasonally adjusted basis, home prices advanced 0.7%, the report said.

Separately, the consumer confidence index jumped in January to the best reading since August 2007. And in another report, sales of new homes rose 11.6% in December.

Snowfall predictions for the East Coast was downgraded on Tuesday, but New England was still pummeled. The New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq were open for business as usual.

The Federal Open Market Committee’s two-day meeting began Tuesday, with a statement and decision coming at 2 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday.

Microsoft, Caterpillar under pressure: Shares of Microsoft plunged 10% as a number of analysts downgraded the stock in the wake of earnings. The software group’s commercial sales came in short of Wall Street’s estimates late Monday.

Caterpillar CAT, -7.18% shares skidded more than 7% after the heavy-machinery maker gave a disappointing outlook for 2015 and reported earnings that missed forecasts.

DuPont DD, -1.25% DD, -1.25% posted a fourth-quarter sales drop of 5%, citing a strong dollar. Shares in the chemical company were down. Shares of Procter & Gamble Co. PG, -3.45% dropped more than 2% as results disappointed.

3M MMM, -0.37% and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. BMY, -0.75%  were also down in the wake of results.

After the closing bell, Apple Inc. AAPL, +5.72% Yahoo Inc. YHOO, +7.17% AT&T Inc. T, -1.12%  and Amgen Inc. AMGN, -0.53%  deliver their reports.


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ScreenHunter_01 Jan. 27 09.44

U.S. stocks open with sharp losses amid weak data, earnings
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — U.S. stocks opened sharply lower after a weaker-than-expected durable-good orders report triggered fears that economic growth is slowing. Durable-goods orders fell 3.4% in December, raising questions about whether businesses are really ready to ramp up investment in 2015. A string of disappointing earnings reports from the likes of Microsoft Corp., Caterpillar Inc., DuPont and Freeport-MoMoRan Inc. also dented sentiment. The S&P 500 SPX, -1.22% opened 23 points, or 1.2%, lower at 2,033. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -1.65% dropped 263 points, or 1.5%, to 17,411. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, -1.62% began the day with a loss of 75 points, or 1.6%, at 4,695


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Apple, Pfizer, Yahoo earnings in focus

Apple had better deliver big fireworks…or else


U.S. stocks: Futures fall as DuPont, Microsft disappoint; durables ahead
MADRID (MarketWatch) — U.S. stock futures pointed to a weak start for Wall Street on Tuesday, amid some investor nervousness over a heavy batch of earnings and important durable-goods and housing data.

Shares of Microsoft Corp. fell in premarket trade after sales data disappointed Wall Street. DuPont was also down after its results, while earnings for Caterpillar Inc. and 3M Co. lie ahead.

Extending earlier losses, futures for the Dow industrials DJH5, -0.51%  fell 92 points, or 0.5%, to 17,522 while those for the S&P 500 index SPH5, -0.51%  slid 9.8 points, or 0.5%, to 2,043.80. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index NDH5, -0.60%  dropped 27 points, or 0.6%, to 4,242.25.

A Northeast blizzard for the East Coast was downgraded on Tuesday as snowfall predications were pared back. The New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq will be open for business as usual on Tuesday, though trading volumes could be lighter, as many workers may not be able to reach their offices.


Whether up or down, new-home sales were a disappointment last year
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — It’s on a knife’s edge whether new-home sales rose or fell last year — but either way, 2014 could only go down as a disappointment, given a U.S. economy that’s outperformed the housing market.


New home sales for December are due for release by the Commerce Department on Tuesday at 10 a.m. Eastern. Economists polled by MarketWatch expect the seasonally adjusted annual rate to rise to 455,000 from 438,000 in November.

The tally for 2014, by contrast, is not seasonally or otherwise adjusted. Last year, there were 429,000 new homes sold; in the 11 months through November, 402,000 homes were sold.

That will leave it to December — and, crucially, previous month revisions — to see if sales of new home sales were up or down for the year.

Either way, what’s clear is the market for new homes, much like the market for older ones, didn’t generate much traction. Economists at BBVA say tight credit — from banks who were burnt during the housing crisis — and constrained supply — from builders who don’t want to get caught out again — are still playing a significant role in holding back the market for new homes.

Also on tap for Tuesday will be data on durable-goods orders for December, the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index for November and the January consumer confidence report for January.

1/26 U.S. stocks eke out gains in choppy trade

Administrator - Monday, 26 January 2015 07:31

After-hours buzz: Microsoft, United, Texas Instruments & more

Microsoft – Shares fell nearly 3 percent after the company reported earnings of 71 cents per share on $26.47 billion in revenue.

Wall Street had expected the tech giant to post earnings of 71 cents per share on $26.3 billion in revenue, according to Thomson Reuters consensus estimates.

Texas Instruments – The stock declined modestly after the chipmaker handed in earnings of 76 cents per share or revenue of $3.27 billion, boosted by higher demand from automakers. Wall Street expected it to report profit of 69 cents per share on sales of $3.36 billion.

United Technologies – The chipmaker beat Street expectations, but shares fell about 2 percent after the firm slashed its full-year forecasts due to negative impact of a stronger dollar.

Plum Creek Timber – Shares were little changed after the Seattle-based company reported profit of 39 cents per share on sales of $428 million.

Analysts had forecast the specialty REIT to hand in earnings of 34 cents per share on $411 million in revenue.


ScreenHunter_424 Jan. 26 19.09

U.S. stocks eke out gains in choppy trade
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — U.S. stocks ended Monday’s choppy trading session with small gains, as investors mostly shrugged off the Greek election results which brought the leftist Syriza party to power.

The relative calm in global equity markets was attributed largely to lingering effects of the quantitative easing program announced by the European Central Bank last week, which overshadowed election results in Greece.

After switching between small gains and losses, the main indexes closed marginally higher.

S&P 500 SPX, +0.26% ended 5.24 points, or 0.3%, higher at 2,057.07. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.03% added 6.1 points to 17,678.70. The Nasdaq COMP, +0.29%  ended the day up 13.88 points, or 0.3%, at 4,771.76.

On Sunday, the leftist Syriza party, which ran on an antiausterity platform, won elections in Greece and fears that the new government in Greece may decide to leave the eurozone sent the euro plunging against the dollar, though the single currency pared its Sunday losses by Monday morning.

Traders dismissed election results as insignificant to financial markets and unlikely to destabilize the rest of European economy, while stressing that accommodative monetary policies from major central banks will continue to underpin markets.

Uri Landesman, president of Platinum Partners hedge fund, is not concerned with election results in Greece.

“The Greeks chose a new extreme party and they will have to live with the consequences. Whatever they decide to do in terms of their debt, will impact them, not the rest of Europe,” Landesman said.

Speaking about recent weakness in the U.S. stock market, Landesman attributed it to the end of quantitative easing and expectations of rate hikes this year.

“Return to volatility may see the S&P 500 go from 1,750 to 2,350 this year. It will be great for hedge funds. In fact, we are opening a long-short fund in anticipation of greater volatility as the party [easy monetary policy] comes to an end,” he added.

Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at RW Baird & Co., said that the reason markets have not fallen more is because there are few other options to put money in.

“Strength of the dollar and a growing economy make the U.S. markets attractive, so there is demand from foreign investors for both bonds and stocks,” Bittles said.


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This Week’s U.S. Economic Calendar
Economic Calendar:


 [Most Recent Quotes from]
Gold slips as equities recover after Greek vote
Gold fell 1 percent on Monday as traders cashed in gains that took the metal to five-month highs last week, with the wider markets recovering ground lost after an anti-austerity party won elections in Greece.

Greek stocks fell on the news, but European equities rose 0.2 percent, as the market focused on the positive impact of the European Central Bank’s bond-buying plan unveiled last week.

Spot gold was down 0.8 percent at $1,284.10 an ounce by 1030 GMT, off an earlier low of $1,280.05. U.S. gold futures for February delivery were down $8.70 at $1,283.90.


Early movers: POST, DHI, T, SHPG, GOOG, UPS & more


U.S. stocks: Futures lower on strong dollar, earnings worries
MADRID (MarketWatch) — U.S. stock futures pointed to a weaker open for Wall Street on Monday as investors fretted over a strong dollar — boosted further by the Greek election results — and a weak corporate-earnings season.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJH5, -0.40%  fell 66 points, or 0.4%, to 17,522, while those for the S&P 500 SPH5, -0.29%  slipped 9 points, or 0.2%, to 2,037.50. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index NDH5, -0.09%  fell 9 points to 4,258.

U.S. shares could extend their retreat from a mostly down session Friday, when the Dow industrials DJIA, -0.79%  ended 0.8% weaker. At the same time, the S&P 500 SPX, -0.55%   fell 0.5%, but the Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.16%  edged up 0.2%.

Earlier, stock futures were weighed on by news that Greek opposition party Syriza had won the general election, raising the possibility that Greece could lose its international assistance or even leave the eurozone. But investors now look to have turned their attention to the dollar.

“The U.S. is simply trading weak on a disappointing earnings season and concerns surrounding the fallout of the strong dollar. Greece seems to be a non-issue, with Europe moving ahead again,” said Wouter Sturkenboom, senior investment strategist at Russell Investments in London.

He said the worries around the strength of the dollar focus firstly on the impact on corporate earnings. A second, though more distant, concern is its impact on U.S. exports.

No data, plenty of corporate news: No data is scheduled for Monday, though a Federal Open Market Committee meeting will stand out midweek.

IBM IBM, +0.31%  could be active on Monday, after Forbes and others reported that the veteran technology company is gearing up for the biggest reorganization in its history, involving layoffs for 26% of staff.

MeadWestvaco Corp. MWV, -1.57%  and Rock-Tenn. Co. RKT, -1.58%  announced a stock-swap merger on Monday, which they say will create a $16 billion packaging company. Those shares could be active.

D.R. Horton Inc. DHI, -2.49% will report ahead of the bell, while earnings from Microsoft Corp. MSFT, +0.11%    and Texas Instruments Inc. TXN, +0.16%  are coming after the close. The week also includes earnings from heavyweights such as Caterpillar Inc. CAT, -0.76%  and Apple Inc. AAPL, +0.55%  .

Uncertainty arising from the Greek results had a muted effect on Asian markets. European stocks SXXP, +0.09%   largely recovered from earlier losses, though Greek stocks remained lower. Meanwhile, the euro hit fresh lows of more than a decade late Sunday, but recovered in early Monday trade. The currency EURUSD, +0.25%  climbed to $1.1235, as traders digested the Greek news.

1/25 U.S. economic engine races ahead of rest of world

Administrator - Sunday, 25 January 2015 07:01

Economic Calendar:

U.S. economic engine races ahead of rest of world


WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Now it’s time to find out if the U.S. economy is still a single locomotive — or an inseparable part of a larger global train that’s slowing down.

For decades the U.S. was seen as the driver of the global economy. When the U.S. grew, so did most everyone else. Yet the rise of China and other emerging economies suggested the absolute power of the U.S. had shrunk considerably, especially after the Great Recession. As the rest of the world went so would America.

Maybe not. The U.S. economy expanded 5% in the third quarter to mark the fastest pace since 2003. And gross domestic product in the final three months of 2014 is forecast to reach a healthy 3% when the government issues a preliminary estimate on Friday. A slumping global economy appears to have done little to slow the U.S. down.

ScreenHunter_411 Jan. 25 18.57

One reason the U.S. has not been hurt is the nation is still more insulated compared to other large economies. Almost three-quarters of U.S. economic activity takes place within the nation’s borders — going out to eat, shopping at a mall, attending a concert, paying a broker, seeing a doctor.

Consumers also play a bigger part in U.S. growth compared to many other countries and the stage is set for higher spending. The U.S. created nearly 3 million new jobs in 2014 — the biggest gain since 1999 — and now households are saving tens of billions of dollars from the lowest gasoline prices in years (gas costs less than $2 a gallon in some parts of the country.)

“Employment and income gains are helping to keep the U.S. economy on a solid expansionary path,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, an economist at The Conference Board.

Faster job creation and tumbling gasoline prices underscore why Americans are more confident now than they’ve been since before the 2007-2009 recession. A pair of surveys this week — consumer confidence and consumer sentiment — are likely to confirm that people are the most hopeful in years.

“The underlying momentum of the economy suggests 3%-plus growth in the months ahead,” said John Canally, an economist at LPL Financial Corp. in Boston.

A weaker global economy, of course, can fray the edges of the U.S. economy. Export-heavy companies such as manufacturers have already turned a bit cautious because the surging U.S. dollar and softer demand overseas have cut into sales. That could spur some companies to put off investments or hire fewer workers until a global rebound occurs.

The energy-producing industry, perhaps the biggest star of the U.S. recovery, is also expected to slash business investment in response to plunging oil prices.

What’s unclear is whether overall business spending is likely to drop.

Lower energy costs help many more U.S. companies than they hurt, for one thing. And the European Central Bank’s big bet last week on a new economic-stimulus strategy could help spawn a global pickup later in the year. U.S. companies might want to keep investing at current levels to take advantage of a potential worldwide rebound.

The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, is paying close attention to the global slump and how it might affect the U.S. The newfound economic boosterism of the ECB could give the Fed more freedom to raise interest rates for the first time since 2006.

“With the ECB now more forcefully addressing deflation risks there, the Fed will feel less pressure to delay rate hikes in the United States,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist of the Bank of the West.

The Fed’s policy-setting board meets in 2015 for the first time on Wednesday and many analysts think the ECB’s action keeps the bank on track for a midyear hike.

Whether growth at home is enough to help pull the rest of the world out of slump, however, remains to be seen. For now the U.S. economy appears healthy enough now to ride out the global turbulence and avoid being derailed.


First U.S. bitcoin exchange set to open


The virtual currency bitcoin is getting a very real boost on Monday, with the opening of the first licensed U.S. exchange.

Coinbase Inc., a startup backed by $106 million from the New York Stock Exchange, banks and venture-capital firms, said its exchange will offer greater security for individuals and institutions to trade bitcoin and monitor real-time pricing of the cryptocurrency.

The exchange could bring needed legitimacy to the currency, which isn’t backed by a central government and is traded over virtual exchanges, primarily overseas. Coinbase said it has insurance, offering traders some assurance that their money won’t disappear.

Bitcoin enthusiasts have been buffeted by the collapse of Japan-based exchange Mt. Gox last year — taking with it around half a billion dollars of investors’ money — and a security breach earlier this month at Slovenia-based exchange Bitstamp. The value of a bitcoin itself, determined by trading on existing exchanges, has fallen to about $240, from a peak in late 2013 of more than $1,200.

Coinbase’s founders say they have been working for five months to win licenses from state financial regulators. They have regulatory approval in half of U.S. states, including large population centers like New York and California. For now, Coinbase can do business with account holders only in states where it has approval.

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