In addition, the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to taper or not remains at the forefront of investors' minds. Friday's August jobs report might provide more clarity on the central's bank next move, which will be shared - or again teased - at the Sept. 17-18 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.
And amid all this uncertainty, the market's fear gauge spiked.
That's why Money Morning last week featured a number of moves investors can make to weather the uncertainty. In case you missed them, we've highlighted below the best investments and stocks to buy now given new and continuing market factors:
- The present bull market is looking old and tired at 54 months, a full 11 months longer than the average bull market run since 1953. Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald calls it the most unloved bull market in history. But there's no need to completely flee the market if you know the right moves to make. That's why we covered how to invest amid a market correction, plus how to invest in today's volatility.
- Money Morning Executive Editor William Patalon III rang up in-house energy expert Dr. Kent Moors to get the scoop on what investors need to do in the midst of mounting Middle East unrest. Moors, who runs our Energy Advantage advisory service, is one of best-connected insiders in the world's energy sector. He says investors should prepare themselves for the instability and continued surges in energy that will likely linger from a prolonged conflict.
- Speaking of moves to make right now, Money Morning's Global Investing & Income Strategist Robert Hsu warns investors to immediately find out how much exposure they have to real estate investment trusts (REITs), and in particular, mortgage REITs. You see, with mortgage rates spiking, REITs have come under pressure as worries grow that higher financing costs and rising capitalization rates (which often lead to lower property values) will weigh on the sector. A number of these investment vehicles are down some 24% to 30% in less than five months. Hsu cautions it is going to get a lot worse. That's why he's waving a red flag. Everyone needs to take note because practically every "properly diversified" portfolio, from exchange-traded funds to target funds to variable annuities, cashes dividend checks from these REITs. The good news - there is one REIT that still allows you to safely profit. Get the full story.
- Another story for income investors: We also shared a piece on how investors can boost their returns through DRIPs, dividend reinvestment plans.
- We're always looking out for our readers. In Here's What These Top Activist Investors Do to Stocks You Own, we explain the anatomy of activist investors, the impact they can have on a stock, and what you should do if an activist investor targets one of your portfolio's holdings.
- Gold moved sharply higher last week, ending August with a 6% gain. The yellow metal, which peaked at nearly $1,900 an ounce in 2011, endured an excruciating 36% bear market slide that ended in June. To date, gold has gained some $200 an ounce, or 20%, putting it officially in a bull market. Money Morning delved into what's driving the yellow metal's rally and featured why legendary commodity investor Jim Rogers says gold and oil are going much, much higher. That's also why we highlighted some beaten-down gold stocks that have caught the eye of "smart money" investors.
- Silver gained a sterling 21.3% in August and looks poised to go much higher. The white metal got a nice boost last week from bullish comments from industry experts. Physical, investment, and industrial demand remains robust, and we're entering a period that has historically been particularly kind to precious metal. Read more in Silver Price News Today.
- Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), with a 5% gain in August, was the best-performing Dow stock for the month, raising the question of whether shares are still a buy. Most of the gains came after the announcement of Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer's resignation. Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald shared his views on who may fill Ballmer's shoes, along with his prescription for turning the fading tech giant around. He also noted the conditions that need to be addressed and met before he'd be a buyer of MSFT. Get that story here.
- Amgen Inc. (Nasdaq: AMGN), the world's largest independent biotechnology company, inked a $10.4 billion deal to buy Onyx Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: ONXX) last week, marking the fifth-largest biotech deal in history. This is part of a much bigger trend that will point to some of the best stocks to buy now in biotech.
- Brazil's economy surged in the second quarter. However, doubts linger about the extent to which Latin America's largest economy is gaining traction. Expectations are modest for the remainder of 2013, with a more promising showing in 2014. We managed to find some great buys in South America, but not in Brazil. In Best Stocks to Buy in South America, we share three stocks to buy now to play this other country's upcoming economic growth.
- Finally, Money Morning Defense & Tech Specialist Michael Robinson says he's "looking down the barrel of a device that will be made by the trillions" and will be in demand in every single sector of the economy, from agriculture to smartphones to diapers. It also stands to make the company that manufactures it, and sophisticated individuals who invest in it, a bundle of money. Read more at Some People Will Get Stinking Rich on These Devices.
For more of our favorite stocks to buy now, check out this special free investor analysis: Five Profit Plays for 2013's Second Half.