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With Grocery Prices Soaring, This High-Tech Food Play Belongs on Your Shopping List

Aside from the continued sell-off in U.S. tech stocks, one of yesterday’s top financial news stories was the fact that U.S. inflation is accelerating – and at a pace that’s exceeding forecasts.

And the surge in food prices is one of the big catalysts…

  • Featured Story

    Maybe Romney Did Win, It's Shaping Up to Be a Rough Four Years

    By 2016, Mitt Romney may be sighing in relief that he lost Tuesday. The economic landscape for the next four years is likely to be filled with crises, and the president in office will be blamed for most of them, whatever his policies.

    Romney's destiny of quiet retirement with his automobile elevator and his Cayman Islands investments will seem greatly preferable to the struggle that awaits the re-elected President Barack Obama.

    Internationally, four more years leaves plenty of time for things to go wrong.

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  • 2012 election

  • How an Obama Win Affects Investments Now that U.S. President Barack Obama has secured a second term, how will his win affect your investments?

    In terms of monetary policy, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's "grand experiment" with quantitative easing will continue at least until Bernanke's second term expires in 2014. We can expect the Fed to continue to expand its balance sheet through asset purchases-primarily mortgage backed bonds- and to keep overnight interest rates near zero.

    The Fed currently expects GDP growth of 3% in 2013. Unemployment is expected to continue to decline through 2013 but the unemployment rate may move in fits and starts as more discouraged workers move back into the labor force as conditions improve.

    Unless there is an unexpected improvement in the employment situation and housing prices, investors can expect quantitative easing and zero interest rates to remain in place through 2013.

    Here are the other ways a President Obama win will affect your investments.

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  • If There's No Winner of Election 2012 Tomorrow, the Market Loses By most accounts, Election 2012 is expected to be very close.

    Long lines of early voters in key swing states including Ohio and Florida, the use of paper ballots in parts of New Jersey that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and uncertainty over the implementation of stringent new voter ID laws in several states could make for a very long night before the result of the election is known.

    While no one expects the presidential race to be as close as it was in 2000, if it is close enough that post-election legal challenges to new electoral procedures could alter the outcome, the result of the election could be delayed for... Read More...
  • There's More than Election 2012 Moving the Stock Market Today The stock market today is trading higher as investors await the results of Election 2012. By the end of tonight, barring legal battles that could delay a winner, the uncertainty surrounding the election will be over.

    But there's more than the election that's affecting markets today.

    As voters head to the polls, it's only fitting that the one economic report released today is on jobs.

    • Job openings continue sluggish trend- How Americans view the job market and what they expect it to be like under each candidate will be one of the deciding factors in this election. The Labor Department reported on Tuesday that job openings in the U.S. hit a five-month low in September, indicating that the recent drop in unemployment is not an accurate portrayal of the labor market. The number of available jobs fell by 100,000 to 3.56 million and it wasn't because more positions were filled - during September fewer people were hired, as well as fired. If you go back to December 2007, the start of the recession, there were about 1.8 people vying for each position and now that number has almost doubled to 3.4 people. "Hiring is the most costly expense for a business," Kurt Rankin, an economist at PNC Financial Services Group Inc. in Pittsburgh, told Bloomberg News. "Until a framework for policy can be determined, which will come with the election and the resolution of the fiscal cliff, businesses are not likely to ramp up hiring."
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  • Who Will Win Election 2012 and Lead America Over the Next Four Years? Americans will be united in heading to the polls today (Tuesday) to decide who will win Election 2012 and be the next president and vice president. After months of experts, news reporters and the candidates inundating us with a barrage of facts and opinions, voters have the last word.

    Research finds that historically Americans' say has been swayed by very recent stock market performance. Last July, I covered Read More...
  • Election 2012: Is Today's Presidential Election More About Lost Dreams Or a New Promise? In what can only be described as a madcap dash for votes in key battleground states, President Barack Obama and Candidate Mitt Romney worked the crowds late into the night.

    As well they should. Almost every Election 2012 poll I've seen has the candidates in a neck-and-neck race headed into today's finish line.

    As of press time:

    • CNN's survey has them in a dead heat at 49% to 49%.
    • Pew Research shows Candidate Romney behind President Obama by a 50% to 47% margin.
    • The Politico/George Washington University survey reflects a tie at 48%.
    • And the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal numbers show President Obama pulling ahead with 48% compared to Candidate Romney at 47%.
    On the other hand, Intrade, which is the world's leading predictions market, shows a 67.2% probability that Obama will win. What's interesting about that is that Intrade also shows a 22.5% chance that the winner of the Electoral College will actually lose the popular vote.

    Given these mismatches, I can only hope we're not left counting chads or something equally ridiculous tonight when the polls finally close. The markets really wouldn't like that.

    As it is, all the major averages are on hold. Not literally mind you, but figuratively. Nearly every trader and institutional manager I know is treading lightly at the moment.

    Why?

    Because they know that by Wednesday morning half of them will be wrong. That means they'll have to adjust both their outlooks and their portfolios.

    In the financial scheme of things, though, the election is a sideshow. The far bigger issue when it comes to your money is the fiscal cliff. And I am not alone in my thinking, either.

    A recent CNN poll suggests that 60% of market professionals are far more concerned about what's going to happen when spending cuts and tax increases hit January 1 than they are about who's in the White House.

    I don't think they're wrong to be worried, either...

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  • Hurtling Over Fiscal Cliff Likely Regardless of Election Outcome Representatives of the Group of 20 (G20) industrialized countries meeting in Mexico City over the weekend begged U.S. officials attending the meeting to avoid the impending fiscal cliff in 2013.

    Chile's finance minister, Felipe Larrain told Reuters, "If we're not able to resolve the cliff, that could be the tipping point for a much more complicated scenario in the world economy."

    The G20 clearly recognizes the risk of the U.S. falling off of the fiscal cliff.

    Comparing the relative risks of the U.S. and Europe, Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty told Bloomberg Businessweek, "In the near-term, clearly the U.S. situation is the higher risk."

    Tomorrow's presidential election may complicate the situation regardless of if U.S. President Barack Obama wins a second term or if Mitt Romney is our next president.

    Washington insiders have suggested that, unless there is a wider than expected margin of victory for either candidate, legal challenges are likely, which could put the result of the election in doubt.

    In fact, each side has hefty legal teams waiting to jump to action if the election is close.

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  • What to Expect from Gold Prices If Romney Wins Election 2012 With the presidential election less than one week away, market watchers are estimating what kind of impact a Mitt Romney win would have on the markets, including gold prices.

    Gold is expected to continue its rise in 2013, reaching up to the $2,000 mark - or higher.

    On Oct. 23, Deutsche Bank analysts called for gold to exceed $2,200 an ounce next year. This came in light of the stimulus measures by central banks.

    They wrote in a research note via Commodity Online, "While we have targeted gold prices moving above $2,000/oz. since the beginning of 2011, we believe the Fed's open-ended program of QE announced last month increases our confidence that a surge in the gold price above this level is only a matter of time."

    Yesterday (Wednesday), December gold futures closed at $1,719.10.

    But if we fast-forward to January, even March 2013, if Romney wins Election 2012, would gold prices be able to continue their upward run?

    Here's what a Romney win would do for the yellow metal.

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  • Election 2012 Means the Real Bernanke Bombshells Won't Fall Until December If you were expecting big news from this week's Fed meeting it looks like you are going to be in for a long wait. This week's FOMC meeting was business as usual.

    There was no change in interest rates, no change in the determination to keep rates low into 2015 and no change in the Fed's latest solution, otherwise known as QE infinity.

    The truth is the real bombshells won't likely start until the Fed's next meeting in December. By then, the landscape could be completely changed.

    With Election 2012 still at stake, it's who controls the Oval Office that matters most when it comes to Fed policy.

    You'd never know that if all you did was watch the debates.

    Ben Bernanke may well be the second most powerful person in the country, yet his name was never mentioned-not even once. Remarkably, monetary policy was completely absent from the debates.

    Election 2012 and the Fed

    That's true even though the two candidates differ substantially when it comes to the Federal Reserve.

    For instance, Mitt Romney has repeatedly said he would not reappoint Ben Bernanke when the Fed chairman's current term ends in January 2014. Conversely, President Barack Obama has indicated his support for Bernanke and his easy money policies.

    For that matter, Bernanke himself is in an open question. He may retire in January 2014 no matter who wins Election 2012.

    However, at the December meeting one major thing will have changed: the time horizons of both investors and policymakers.

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  • Tonight's Presidential Debate: Who Will Clinch the Final Face Off? For the third and final time, U.S. President Barack Obama and GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney will take center stage and face off tonight, with the showdown set for Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.

    With the two candidates running neck-and-neck - a fresh NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows President Obama and Romney tied at 47% -- and just 15 days until Americans cast their ballots for our 45th U.S. president, a stellar showing is imperative. Whoever wins Monday's debate will have the upper hand heading into Election Day.

    More than 60 million viewers tuned in to the first two debates which dealt with jobs, healthcare, the economy, and taxes. Romney handily won the first debate in Denver on Oct. 3 and charmed hordes of undecided voters. Then the president, who appeared glum and uninterested the first time around, came on strong in the second debate Oct. 16.

    Monday's debate will be focused on foreign policy and national security. Divided into six segments, President Obama and Romney will discuss America's position as a global leader, the Afghanistan war, the Middle East, Israel and Iran, and China's explosive rise.

    President Obama, as head of U.S. national security for the last four years, has experience Romney can't rival. The president will underscore how under his term he was instrumental in the mission that led to the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. He will also note that he pulled troops from Iraq.

    Romney has his work cut out for him.

    His summer trips to London, Jerusalem and Poland were highlighted by several gaffes. The former Massachusetts governor needs to assure voters that he is a capable leader in the global arena by highlighting his leadership abilities.

    "Many voters are ready to fire President Obama if they see Romney as an acceptable alternative. Foreign policy has not been a big driver of this campaign but I think Romney could add some icing to his cake if people say, "Hey, this guy is on top of world affairs,'" David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Center at Southern Illinois University told Reuters.

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  • If Romney Wins Election 2012 Buy and Sell These Sectors Over the past several weeks, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's momentum has spiked. Recent polls place him running neck-and-neck with or even edging ahead of President Barack Obama.

    Besides strong debate performances, key factors have turned in Romney's favor.

    Myriad surveys in a dozen crucial swing states show voter's concerns are increasing regarding the mushrooming fiscal deficit, debt issues and the depressed job market, issues that favor Romney.

    Since the election won't be decided for another two weeks there is still time to act if you expect a Romney victory.

    Here's what several top Wall Street analysts think a Romney win would mean for stocks. To continue reading, please click here...
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  • Jim Rogers on Election 2012: "A Pox on Both Their Houses' Investing legend Jim Rogers says it doesn't matter who wins Election 2012.

    In his view, both President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney are equally bad.

    "I repeat Shakespeare: A pox on both their houses as far as I'm concerned," Rogers said in a Breakout interview this week. "These are the guys who got us into this problem, so why does anybody think they will get us out?"

    The "problem" to which Jim Rogers is referring to is the sluggish U.S. economy, dragged down by the huge $16 trillion federal debt and annual budget deficits in excess of $1 trillion.

    Rogers predicted that regardless of who wins Election 2012, things won't get better.

    "If Mr. Obama wins, his friends are gonna get more money. If Mr. Romney wins, his friends are gonna get more money. But you and I, and everybody watching this show are gonna be worse off because the debt's going to go higher, and the turmoil is gonna get worse."

    Rogers blames both major parties for the nation's economic ills.

    "All of them have gotten us into this situation," Rogers said. "Look at the last 50 years of American history. Republicans, Democrats, Republicans, Democrats .... It's not doing us any good. None of us are benefiting by what's been going on in Washington."

    Jim Rogers is so down on U.S. politicians that he has absolutely no preference as to who wins the White House.

    "I will vote the protest vote. I nearly always vote the protest vote," Rogers said without specifying which third-party might get his support.

    In Rogers's view, a vote for either major party just perpetuates the problem.

    "If they keep sending us turkeys, and we keep voting for turkeys, they'll send us more turkeys," he said.

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  • Romney Tax Plan Details Still a Mystery Despite All the Talk While GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has provided a bit more information on his tax plan, many key details are still missing - meaning it's tough to figure out exactly what you'd owe Uncle Sam if Romney wins Election 2012.

    Romney and vice-presidential running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, have outlined several broad Romney tax plan goals: do not increase the deficit; do not raise taxes on middle income taxpayers; and do not reduce the share of taxes paid by higher-income Americans.

    Romney also has repeatedly made it known he favors an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for all income levels.

    Ryan has said a Romney administration would be able to work with Democrats in Congress to pass a tax re-write, which includes a 20% reduction in individual tax rates across the board, a 10% reduction for businesses and a 20% cut in the top tax rate from 35% to 28%. (President Barack Obama plans to raise that rate to 39.6%).

    But neither Ryan nor Romney has yet to give full details on which tax breaks will be scaled back to avoid adding to the mushrooming federal deficit, which topped $1 trillion in 2012 for the fourth straight year.

    The lack of Romney tax plan details prompted President Obama to call it "sketchy" at the second presidential debate.

    "Governor Romney was a very successful investor," said the president. "If somebody came to you, governor, with a plan that said, here, I want to spend $7 or $8 trillion, and then we're going to pay for it, but we can't tell you until maybe after the election how we're going to do it, you wouldn't have taken such a sketchy deal and neither should you, the American people, because the math doesn't add up. We haven't heard from the governor any specifics beyond Big Bird and eliminating funding forPlannedParenthood in terms of how he pays for that."
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  • Tonight's VP Debate: Can Ryan Counter-Punch Biden's Jabs? If tonight's vice-presidential (VP) debate were a boxing match it would be expected to go all 12 rounds.

    Squaring off at 9 p.m. EDT in Danville, Kentucky are Vice-President Joe Biden and vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, in their first and only debate.

    After the shellacking Mitt Romney gave President Obama in the first presidential debate many political experts are expecting Biden to come out on the offensive in an attempt to regain some of the president's lost ground.

    Paul Ryan, in his first national debate, knows that Biden is looking to attack where the president did not. As the Chair of the House Budget Committee, Ryan should be ready to defend his running mate and continue the attack on the president. Expect Ryan to focus on the economy, specifically federal debt, unemployment and job creation.

    "I'd be surprised if there weren't far more fireworks in this debate than there were in the first presidential debate," University of Maine political science professor Mark Brewer told Reuters.

    While the debate will focus on domestic and foreign policies, here are other things you should watch for.

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  • Coal Stocks See Better Days Ahead If Romney Wins Election 2012 If Mitt Romney wins Election 2012, it'll be a rare piece of positive news for the coal industry, and a boost for beaten down coal stocks.

    During last week's presidential debate, Romney called attention to the stark differences between himself and U.S. President Barack Obama on coal policy.

    "By the way, I like coal," Romney said. "I'm going to make sure we can continue to burn clean coal. People in the coal industry feel like it's getting crushed by your policies."

    That was enough to grab the attention of investors. Just about every coal stock went up at least 4% the day after the debate, and several were up more than 5%.

    It was a much needed shot in the arm for a sector that had been down 29% on the year.

    "It's amazing what 15 words about coal in a presidential debate can do for the stocks," Michael Dudas of Sterne Agee told Reuters. "These stocks have been volatile, but you can't discount what a man running for president said about coal. Call it the Romney rally."

    Coal stocks reacted strongly to Romney's industry-friendly comments because President Obama's energy policies have been tough on a sector already under pressure from cheap natural gas prices.

    That's why Romney, in his campaign speeches, frequently refers to these policies as a "war on coal."

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  • Six Stocks You Should Own If Obama Wins Election 2012 Debates and attack ads aside, the U.S. presidential election remains too close to call -- all the more reason for investors to position themselves to profit whether Mitt Romney or President Barack Obama wins in November.

    As we noted last month when we looked at stocks to own if Romney wins, certain industries tend to perform better under Republican policies, others under Democrats.

    Here's a look at six stocks that would benefit if President Obama wins Election 2012.

    Health Care Stocks Helped by an Obama Win

    No matter what, one of the top issues will continue to be health care, with a particular focus on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) - otherwise known as "Obamacare."

    Unless the Republicans sweep both houses of Congress and win the White House, Obamacare will remain the law of the land.

    Large hospital chains benefit from the survival of Obamacare because it expands health coverage to millions of previously uninsured individuals, including those with pre-existing conditions. That will significantly reduce the burden on hospital emergency rooms, which must now treat these patients even if they can't pay.

    While such major hospital operators as Tenet Healthcare Corp. (NYSE: THC) and Community Health Systems (NYSE: CYH) would get a lift from this, a better choice in this sector is:

    • Health Management Associates Inc. (NYSE: HMA), recent price $8.16 - HMA operates 66 hospitals with more than 10,300 beds, most of them located across the South and in Appalachia, where the current percentage of uninsured patients is among the highest in the country. Increased reimbursements under Obamacare could spark a turnaround in HMA revenues and earnings, which have fallen in four of the last five quarters, slipping from 20 cents a share in the second quarter of 2011 to just 16 cents in Q2 2012. The stock pays no dividend, but offers good growth potential since its current price is well off the five-year high of $11.32 set in April 2011.
    Other winners under Obamacare would be companies that receive large research and/or specialized treatment grants from government agencies. The National Institute of Health (NIH), for instance, could see budget cuts of 5% or more if Romney wins and begins to rein in discretionary federal spending.

    A good bet in this category is:

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