Money Morning Mailbag: Investors Show Growing Concerns Over Deflation
The threat of deflation has been making its rounds as inflationary measures like the consumer price index (CPI) fell for the first time in 13 months in April, dropping 0.1%. Core CPI – which excludes food and energy prices – rose only 0.9%, its smallest gain since 1966. The producer price index (PPI) also dipped 0.1%.
"The recent trend in inflation has been swiftly to the downside," Eric Green, chief U.S. rates strategist at TD Securities, told Reuters. "All measures of inflation are decelerating."
Investment behavior has shown an anxious but mixed sentiment of hedging against both inflation and deflation: Demand for gold metal is outstripping supply by more than 1% per year and has pushed gold prices to record highs, while others have sought out both corporate bonds and U.S. Treasuries for safety.
Two Big Reasons to Believe the U.S. Stock Market Will Bounce Back
There's been a lot of cheerless news coming out of Europe lately, and that's taken a toll on the U.S. stock market. But I want to take this opportunity to offer up some positive points and remind investors that it's still too early to declare the bull-market dead, and even more premature to fret over a new bear market beginning.
There are two key considerations that support a continued rise in U.S. stocks:
Stubbornly High Unemployment Shows U.S. Economy Still Plagued by "Jobless Recovery"
While a surge in corporate profits reflect an improving economy, several government reports show that the United States continues to be plagued by a lingering "jobless recovery."
Most analysts, including President Barack Obama, are predicting a strong May jobs report due out today (Friday) with more than 500,000 new jobs added to the U.S. economy.
"We expect to see strong jobs growth in Friday's report." Obama predicted in a speech in Pittsburg on Wednesday.
Free Report: Prepare for Washington's "Heavy Hand," Thanks to BP
BP (NYSE: BP) has guaranteed that the drilling environment in the U.S. will undergo significant change. There will be government overreaction, but leaving the production of new crude oil to the whims of company bottom lines is no longer an option. Some of what is coming will require intense ongoing negotiations. That the increasingly heavy [...]
Banks and Investors Both Rattled by European Debt Concerns
European debt concerns continued to weigh on investor sentiment today (Thursday) as rumors circulated that the European Central Bank (ECB) was planning an intervention into the continent's banking sector.
The ECB is buying government bonds and increased its lending to banks, but that has done little to alleviate concern that the nearly-$1 trillion (750 billion euros) Eurozone bailout package announced last month won't be enough to prevent a collapse in the banking industry.
The ECB said on Monday that European banks will have to write off more loans this year than they did in 2009. The region's banks are expected to write off some $237 billion (195 billion euros) in bad debt by 2011.
Oil Sector Expert Kent Moors Sees Tough Times, Stricter Regs For BP After Oil Spill
Energy expert Dr. Kent Moors is angry. And the main target for that anger is BP PLC (NYSE ADR: BP).
At its core, the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill is a human tragedy: 11 workers were killed, others were injured and now many Gulf Coast residents will end up losing their homes and livelihoods.
But that's not all that has Dr. Moors seeing red: The accident that resulted from BP's incomprehensible risk-taking has killed an energy bill that could have set the U.S. economy on a course for energy freedom, and is going to summon the heavy hand of government in a way that will cost American consumers dearly while also keeping regular U.S. investors from reaping green.
Two Energy Stocks For a Post-Oil-Spill World
With the failure of the BP PLC (NYSE ADR: BP) "top kill" strategy, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill takes on a more serious hue, both for the Gulf of Mexico environment and for BP itself. If it indeed proves impossible to cap the oil flow before August, public anger against BP and against deep-sea drilling in general may put BP out of business and set deep-sea drilling around the United States back for years.
The business fallout from the oil spill could be widespread. As was true of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident of 1979, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill could end up causing massive damage to companies that were in no way involved with the BP tragedy. Risks of different types of operation will be reassessed, new rules will be enacted, and the energy business will change radically.
Smart investors will anticipate these changes.
BP's Sharp Stock Drop Prompts Takeover Rumors as Gulf Oil Spill Disaster Spirals Out of Control
BP PLC's (NYSE ADR: BP) share price has plunged by more than one-third, as the company has struggled to contain the Gulf oil spill. Now, the company is being rumored as a takeover target as its stock has yet to find a floor.
BP shares have tumbled 36% since the company's leased drilling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20. The company has lost a third of its market value – $75 billion – stirring rumors that there could be acquisition interest. About $17 billion in losses came on Tuesday alone when the stock plunged 15%.
"There is a 10% to 20% chance of BP being taken over," Gudmund Halle Isfeldt, an analyst at DnB NOR ASA, told Bloomberg News. "The only real candidate, in size and with similar operations globally, would be Royal Dutch Shell [PLC (NYSE ADR: RDS.A, RDS.B)]."
BP's drastic market value loss could make it cheap enough to attract buyers, but some analysts say the total cost and implications of the spill are too vague to justify a commitment.
AT&T Rocks Smartphone Industry by Dropping Unlimited Data Plans
In a pioneering move likely to shake up the mobile telecom industry, AT&T (NYSE: T) today (Wednesday) abandoned unlimited-pricing plans for new wireless subscribers accessing data on smartphones.
The changes could lower the cost of service for the vast majority of AT&T's users but potentially raise rates significantly for heavy data consumers. The new plans go into effect on June 7, the same day Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is widely expected to unveil the next generation of its popular iPhone.
By instituting usage limits on what were previously unlimited smartphone data plans, AT&T embarks on an important and long-awaited shift in how carriers bill their customers.
Top Profit Plays for a Defensive-Investing Portfolio
Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz once said that "the best defense is a good offense." Although that bit of wisdom has been used everywhere from the battlefield to the gridiron, it could just as easily be deployed as part of a "defensive investing" strategy.
And in today's markets – whipsawed by worries emanating from virtually every major market around the globe – a defensive-investing plan needs to include protective stops, inverse funds, high-yielding dividend shares, "sin stocks, and investments in oil and other value-storing commodities," Keith Fitz-Gerald, the best-selling author who is Money Morning's chief investment strategist, said in an interview this week.
With the world markets in flux, Fitz-Gerald sat down with Money Morning Executive Editor William Patalon III to talk about defensive-investing strategies. What follows is the full text of that interview.