Natural Gas Companies Inch Closer to LNG Export Approvals
Those natural gas companies awaiting approval to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) got a hopeful sign last week.
The push toward the United States becoming a prominent LNG exporter moved forward Friday. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) approved only the second facility to export LNG to countries without a free trade agreement with the United States.
The Obama administration gave the thumbs up (a 20-year approval) to the Freeport LNG project in Texas. It is owned 50/50 by ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) and Michael Smith, the founder, chairman and CEO of Basin Exploration (later sold to Stone Energy).
Oil Price Manipulation Awakens Libor, Enron Ghosts
Last July, we warned you that oil prices could potentially be manipulated in similar fashion to the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor), and now a recent raid of major oil companies highlights this growing danger to the $3.4 trillion-a-year crude market.
The European Commission last week stormed the offices of Royal Dutch Shell PLC (NYSE ADR: RDS.A, RDS.B), BP PLC ( NYSE ADR: BP), and Statoil ASA (NYSE ADR: STO) as part of the ongoing investigation to find out whether companies are manipulating oil prices and, if so, how long it has been going on and the possible ramifications.
"The commission has concerns that the companies may have colluded in reporting distorted prices to a price reporting agency (PRA) to manipulate the published prices for a number of oil and biofuel products," the EC said in a statement.
Besides major oil companies, big banks are active in the energy market and would likely benefit from any manipulation, David Frenk, director of research at the financial reform group Better Markets and a former commodities analyst, told CNN.
The ordeal has brought back memories not only of last year's Libor scandal but also of the actions taken 12 years ago by Enron to control energy prices.
Why Silver and Gold Prices Are Falling
Metals started the week in the red, leading investors to ask why silver and gold prices are falling today. Money Morning Capital Wave Strategist Shah Gilani joined FOX Business' "Varney & Co." to answer that question.
He told host Stuart Varney about the big trading move that pushed metals down today. He also explained why he would keep buying gold.
Shah also recommended a stock that pays a 10% dividend yield and says the stock will be "safe" as long as the housing market remains stable.
Hear Shah's recommendation and his thoughts on why silver and gold prices are falling in the following video.
Go Long, Scandal! Keep 'Em Coming, Obama!
There's a lot of buzz that President Obama's current scandals – Benghazi, the IRS and the Department of Justice – may bring down the financial markets.
I disagree – if anything, they'll provide fuel for another leg up.
Scandals Du Jour
The Benghazi scandal is pretty straightforward. Somebody screwed up badly and people got killed by what increasingly looks like a coordinated terrorist attack. Much to the Republicans' frustration, fallout has so far been largely limited to the president and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The IRS scandal is a little more convoluted, though hardly surprising – at least to me any way. The agency recently acknowledged that it targeted conservative groups for aggressive tax compliance enforcement. Acting Director Steven T. Miller has resigned after being thrown to the wolves by a White House eager to distance itself as quickly as possible from the situation.
And finally, there's what some are calling "AP-gate" in which the Department of Justice was found to have gone after Associated Press journalists' phone records as part of a counter-terrorism investigation.
Never mind that I think reporters ought to be held accountable for national security leaks, what's apparent here is that the investigation potentially compromises press freedom without the express legal authority needed to do so. So much for the White House's assertion that it's the most transparent administration in history; targeting reporters and whistleblowers isn't the way to go.
Buy, Sell or Hold: This is One Train You Don't Want to Miss
Railroads have long been considered the veins and arteries of the economy.
As the railroads go, so goes the business of America.
That's why rail statistics have long been one of the signs most closely watched by prognosticators and economists.
Of course, that's not as true as it used to be. In fact, most railroads have actually done quite well lately – even in the face of a down economy. It's counter-intuitive but it's true.
One of them is CSX Corp. (NYSE: CSX). It's my favorite U.S. railroad stock.
Because even with the external weight of a delinquent U.S. economy strapped to its caboose, shares of CSX Corp. continue break out to new 52-week highs.
The question for investors now is whether or not this train has already left the station.
Here's my take on where CSX is headed from here…
Unloved Uranium is About to Get Much More Attractive
Pity poor uranium — there is perhaps no more unloved segment of the energy market right now.
Not only is it a commodity, but nuclear power has a stigma attached to it, thanks to the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear mishap in Japan.
Uranium has brought both joy and tears to investors over the past decade. After a 20-year bear market, the price of uranium (U308), bottomed in 2001 at $8 per pound. It then skyrocketed to over $100 a pound, only to fall back again.
Most recently, it peaked at $72 a pound in January 2011. The Fukushima earthquake and tsunami disaster a few months later put a pall over the industry and prices, resulting in the current price of $40.70 a pound.
Yet despite some countries slowing down their plans for nuclear power expansion and the negative mood hanging over the sector, uranium looks to be poised for a rebound in the not-too-distant future.
Why? Well, for one thing, the United Nations' nuclear agency – the International Atomic Energy Agency – said "The Fukushima Daiichi accident is expected to slow or delay the growth of nuclear power, but not reverse it."
The IAEA forecast impressive growth of somewhere between 23% and 100% in nuclear power capacity by 2030.
How to Really Make a Fortune on the "Mobile Wave"
If you've been riding along with me for any length of time, you know I get really revved up whenever I talk about the "Mobile Wave" in technology.
The truth is, I can't help it: I look at the forecasts, calculate all the money that can be made, and end up feeling as jazzed as can be about the windfall profits we can reap from this transformational trend.
And I'm not the only one who's feeling this technology-fueled ebullience: The folks over at Amazon.com are clearly experiencing the same adrenalin-driven affliction.
Amazon, you see, is coming out with its own smartphone.
And not just any smartphone. Amazon's entry into smartphone derby is going to be one cool mobile device – highlighted by a 3D screen that will display photos so realistically that you'll want to just reach out and touch them.
Why in the world, you might ask, is an "e-tailer" entering the wireless-phone business?
Just look at the numbers.
How Tesla Motors Managed to Beat the "Solyndra Syndrome"
I drive a 1994 Geo Prizm, rusted and sputtering, that came from a factory near San Francisco that was owned by a GM-Toyota joint venture that eventually flopped.
The car's held up all these years, but other than that, there's not much good to say about it, and the company that built it didn't amount to much, either.
It gives me a laugh to think that these days that very factory – rebuilt with money from the 2009 stimulus, no less – now makes the car that's the toast of Wall Street.
The U.S. government's $465 million loan turned the factory that built my Prizm into the launching pad of Tesla Motors Inc.'s (Nasdaq: TSLA) Model S, the luxury electric sedan Consumer Reports calls one of the best two cars it has ever tested. (The Model S tied the 2007 Lexus LS 460L, receiving 99 of 100 points.)
The plug-in Tesla has surpassed all expectations, but here's what's really extraordinary about the company: It's a government-financed clean-energy project that's actually a great American success story that even some conservatives can love.
Among big fans of Tesla Motors: Charles Payne, a co-host on FOX Business' "Varney & Co." who regularly touts the company and its stock.
With the success of the Model S, TSLA has skyrocketed from its 2010 IPO at $17 a share to $91.97 as of late Thursday and the company's valuation is approaching $10 billion.