Japan Stimulus Not Enough to Ensure Economic Recovery
Japan yesterday (Monday) attempted to halt the surging yen by outlining stimulus measures and easing its monetary policy, but markets failed to respond.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan detailed a plan to implement a new stimulus program by the end of September, and the Bank of Japan announced after an emergency meeting that it would introduce new loan programs to encourage bank lending to consumers.
The yen has climbed more than 10% against the dollar since May, last week hitting a 15-year high of 83.60 per dollar and threatening Japan's export-driven economic recovery. Analysts were skeptical that the moves would do anything to change the currency value or stimulate the stagnant recovery, and said the measures are largely a political attempt to pacify Japanese consumers instead of actually halting the yen's rise.
Plunge in Capital Spending Could Slow Hiring & Economic Recovery
Although initial claims for jobless benefits fell more than expected last week, a slowdown in U.S. business investment indicates hiring will continue to stall.
Applications for unemployment benefits dropped by 31,000 last week to 473,000, the Labor Department said yesterday (Thursday), providing some relief that the job market isn't deteriorating rapidly as the economy slows. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had predicted filings would decline by 10,000.
But claims still remain elevated and aren't likely to boost confidence in the economic recovery. The four-week moving average, which smoothes volatility in the data, rose by 3,250 to 486,750, the highest level since Nov. 28, 2009. And new claims for the previous week were revised upward to 504,000 from 500,000.
Russia: Is it Time to Invest in One of the Coldest Countries on Earth?
Of all the unpleasant societies in which to live, Vladimir Putin's Russia is among the nastiest. Journalists and businessmen disappear, a knock on the door at 3:00am can prove fatal, and nothing gets done without endless side-payments to obscure fixers.
Still, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) in 2001 identified Russia as one of the four great "BRIC" growth economies. And while much of its gilt has been worn off, Russia still has many supporters in the investment world. So the question is: Provided you don't have to live there, is it worth devoting a few of your investment dollars to the country?
Investors' Hopes Riding on Surge in M&A Activity
Global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity is at its highest level since late 2009, providing a glimmer of hope to investors struggling to decipher stock and bond markets roiled by a weakening U.S. economy.
Global takeovers announced so far this year have totaled $1.29 trillion, up 23% from the same time last year, according to Bloomberg News.
Last week a flurry of bleak economic news headlined by larger than expected unemployment claims spurred a 280-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
But, investors took some solace from a flurry of M&A activity and an initial public offering (IPO) from General Motors Co., because acquisitions are seen as a sign companies are confident the economy will grow and business will improve.
Buy, Sell or Hold: BCE Inc. (NYSE: BCE) Has Canada Covered
The market right now is torn between data that suggests the U.S. is waning and reports that many companies are increasing guidance and beating earnings estimates.
This has created a lot of volatility, and if you already have enough strong growth plays in your portfolio, adding some large, established companies with stable cashflows and hefty dividend yields could ease some of the anxiety you may be feeling.
Such an approach in my opinion is superior to bonds, since bond yields are just too low at these levels. That means you actually risk capital losses if they go up. In addition, safe dividends paid by leading companies are higher than bond yields. And unlike bonds, big companies usually can adjust prices in accordance with inflation.
There are a lot of companies for an investor to choose from, but BCE Inc. (NYSE: BCE) jumps out at me immediately. It is a dominant, well-managed company, and it has strong upside potential.
During the Hottest Summer in Years, it's Time to Start Pursuing Cold Weather Profits
Take our word for it: Even though much of the nation has experienced record high temperatures this month, it'll be plenty chilly before you know it – and if you want some hot profits to warm you up come January, you'd be smart to think "winter" in August.
No, we haven't been sneaking refreshments from a St. Bernard's K9 cask: The reality is that a lot of companies that specialize in cold-weather products are stuck in the summer doldrums right now, meaning their share prices are in the cellar.
But, when rising winter demand ramps up their sales and profits, those stock prices will likely march higher, right along with your monthly heating bills.
South Korea Moves on U.K. Energy Assets as Competition with China Increases
Korea National Oil Corp. (KNOC) on Friday made a hostile bid for the United Kingdom's Dana Petroleum PLC, marking the first time a state-owned Asian company has gone directly to shareholders.
The move underscores South Korea's determination to double its oil output by 2012 and increase its energy security. It also shows that South Korea will not be denied energy assets, despite being outbid by Chinese companies in several instances.
KNOC took the $2.9 billion (1.87 billion pound) bid to Dana's shareholders after the oil explorer rejected KNOC's previous offer of 1,800 pence a share offer. In a filing with the London Stock Exchange, KNOC said it had support from 48.62% of shareholders, putting the needed 50% approval target within close reach.
Germany's Export Reliance Edges Out European Neighbors
By relying on exports and not promoting domestic demand, Germany is creating a lopsided recovery that is hurting retailers and foreign exporters.
While Germany's exports continue to surge, its consumers are refusing to spend. The government has failed to raise wages or encourage consumption and says it has few plans to do so.
"By cutting its budget deficit and resisting a rise in wages to compensate for a decline in the purchasing power of the euro, Germany is actually making it more difficult for other countries to regain competitiveness," billionaire investor and cofounder of the Quantum Fund George Soros said in a speech on June 23 in Berlin. Germany is "the main protagonist" for Europe's debt crisis, he added.
Germany's economy – four times more reliant on exports than is the United States – posted the highest second-quarter growth in the Eurozone, growing by 2.2% in the second quarter from the first. The country is headed for about 9% growth this year.
This China Province Will Become a Global Oil-and-Gas Market Powerhouse
Like everything else, the balance of power in the global energy market is shifting toward China, where a little-known province is perfectly situated to become a global oil-and-gas market powerhouse.
Nestled in the far northwest of China, Xinjiang is the country's largest province and the primary domestic source for oil and gas. It is sparsely populated and as big as Western Europe. The name, Xinjiang, literally means "New Frontier." And recent decisions in Beijing are going to give that translation even more meaning – transforming this province into a "new frontier" for the global energy sector.
It's Time to Invest in Chile and Colombia – Latin America's Reigning 'Good Guys'
Looking for the next emerging markets set to skyrocket? Look no further than Chile and Colombia. That's right, thanks to recent elections, these two countries are ready to lead growth in Latin America. Read this report to find out exactly where to invest…