Wall Street

As Volatility Hits New Lows, It Could Be Time to Sell

Since January 1st, the average daily price volatility of stocks has fallen more than 60%. It's the biggest straight-line drop in 82 years.
A lot of investors are rejoicing. After all, stocks have risen an average of 17% a year when volatility is this low, Bloomberg reports.

[rwc_chart_single name="VIX"]

There is, however, a dark side. Periods of abnormally low volatility are a warning bell. Namely, they tend to precede powerful reversals that can wipe out investors, as was the case in 2000 and early 2008, and at other key turning points in the past 100 years.
So today let's talk about what low volatility means for you - both in terms of upside and how to protect yourself in a downslide.
If nothing else, <a href="http://moneymorning.com/2013/02/22/as-volatility-hits-new-lows-it-could-be-time-to-sell/"you've got to see this chart...

Will the Year of the Snake Bring Another Stock Market Crash?

False Water Cobra

The Chinese New Year officially began Feb. 10, starting what some investors consider a very bad zodiac year. Not only does the year of the snake havethe worst stock market returns, but some of the darkest moments in U.S. history. Take a look.

As Insiders Head For the Exits, Do They Know Something "We" Don't Know?

According to the latest Vickers Weekly Insider Report, in the past week, there have been nine insider sales for every one buyer among NYSE stocks.
The last time insiders sold this aggressively was in early 2012 - right before the S&P 500 took a 10% header.
Does that mean there’s a correction in the works?
There are all kinds of legitimate reasons insiders sell their shares. But what concerns me is that insiders, particularly when you're talking about senior management types, typically know a lot more than the average investor. Further, they tend to have a consistent view of very specific longer term market conditions and, more importantly, its earnings potential.
Here’s what insiders know that you probably don’t

Stock Market Today: Will the Dow Keep Going Above 14,000?

The stock market today (Friday) hit a high not seen in more than five years when the Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed 14,000 for the first time since October 2007.

Less than an hour into trading the Dow spiked 140 points, or 1%, to hit 14,000.97. In mid-afternoon trading, the Dow rallied further, tacking on 150 points. The move leaves the Dow around 200 points, or 2%, from its all-time high of 14,198.10.

Friday's strong showing came on the heels of the Dow's strongest January (up 5.8%) since 1994.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index, which logged its best January since 1997, added 15 points, or just shy of 1%. The Nasdaq advanced 40.

The robust rally followed a lackluster report on the job market which gave "strength to the argument that the Fed will continue its bond buying program and keep rates low, which is also a positive for the stock market," Tom Schrader, managing director at Stifel Nicolaus told CNN Money.

That sentiment also gave bonds and precious metals a boost. Gold prices moved up $7 to $1,670. Silver added 37 cents to $31.94

A bevy of reports helped buoy markets Friday.

A Census Bureau report showed construction rose 0.9% in December, well above forecasts. The Institute for Supply Management's monthly manufacturing index rose to 53.1 in January, ahead of the expected 50.5 read, and the University of Michigan's sentiment index climbed to 73.8 last month, better than the expected 71.4.

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Paul Krugman May Be the World's Last Flat Earth Economist

Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Dr. Paul Krugman is at it again. He claimed earlier this week that fixing the deficit is important, but added that "doing it now would be disastrous." He also observed that the 10-year U.S. debt situation isn't really all that bad.
I don’t know how he can make that argument with a straight face.
For five years now, Dr. Krugman has argued that increasing U.S. government spending is vital to our nation's recovery. And for five years he's been dead wrong.
Dr. Krugman claims that "we" just haven't spent enough money... yet.
Here's why that makes him very dangerous...

Is the Obama Stock Market Rally the Real Deal?

Chart up exponential

At first glance, there can be no doubt that U.S. President Barack Obama has been good for the stock market.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index has rallied by nearly 700 points - just shy of 86% - since the president's first Inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009.

This is the best stock market performance for a presidential first term since World War II, even beating the 79.2% rally during President Bill Clinton's first term in the White House, from January 1993 to January 1997.

In fact, the only time stocks rallied more during a presidential first term was during Franklin Roosevelt's first term from March 4, 1933, to Jan. 20, 1937, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 245% off of Depression-era lows.

In a very broad sense, the condition of the stock market at the start of President Obama's first term in 2009 can be compared to the stock market in 1933. In both cases, stock prices had collapsed and were trading at generational lows when both presidents took office. In both cases, share prices rallied substantially off of the bottom as economic conditions improved.

But all this really proves is that the first leg of any rally is usually the strongest and most profitable.

As the S&P 500 is at a five-year high and is zeroing in on the 1,500 level for the third time in its history, one has to wonder if the Obama Rally is sustainable or are we just reverting to the mean?

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Stock Market Today Battles the Apple Effect

The stock market today was proof that one bad apple doesn't spoil the whole bunch.

The Dow was up 55 points by 3:15, the S&P 500 up 1 - but the Nasdaq did slump 20 points, dragged down by Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL).

Thursday's advance came on the heels of the Dow's 67-point rise Wednesday which was stoked by a vote in the House of Representatives to suspend the U.S. debt ceiling through May 19.

Also propelling gains Wednesday were strong results from tech heavyweights Google INc. (Nasdaq: GOOG), which beat estimates and spiked $38.63 points higher, and International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM), which rallied 4.4% after posting better-than-expected numbers.

To date, some 75% of the 134 companies in the S&P 500 Index that have reported results have handily beat expectations.

"People are just trying to digest all the earnings reports from the various companies. As long as the economy seems to get better the stock market will do well," Giri Cherukuri, portfolio manager who helps manage $3 billion at Oakbrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois, told Bloomberg.

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Stock Market Today: How Earnings Are Shaping the Week

Following gains to multi-year highs last week, the stock market today took a breather, after being closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average tacked on 37 points. The benchmark hit its highest close since December 2007 last week. Meanwhile, the Standard & Poor's […]

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Did the Fed Just Admit QE3 Has Been a Major Failure?

bernake_praying

After four years of quantitative easing programs, including QE3 just last fall, U.S. Federal Reserve officials have started voicing doubts about its effectiveness and concerns that it is distorting the markets.

And it's not just the Fed's hawks, such as Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher and Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser, speaking out against the bond-buying extravaganza.

Doves like Atlanta's Dennis Lockhart and moderates like Kansas City's Esther George have expressed concerns about QE3 as well.

"I do think the growth of the Fed's balance sheet could have longer-term consequences that are worrisome. While I've supported these policy decisions to date, I acknowledge legitimate concerns," Lockhart said in a speech in Atlanta on Monday.

According to the minutes of the December Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, several members "thought that it would probably be appropriate to slow or to stop purchases well before the end of 2013, citing concerns about financial stability or the size of the balance sheet."

If in fact sentiment within the FOMC is turning against QE3, then the easy money spigot that has helped fuel the stock market and other investments could be switched off sooner than most expected, which could have a sharp impact on the markets.

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Stock Market Today: Builders, Banks, Boeing in Focus

The stock market today rose right out of the gate Thursday on improved economic data, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 70 points just before noon, and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index up 7.

Giving equities a lift was a pair of reports that showed the U.S. economy continues on the path to recovery.

The Department of Commerce reported Thursday morning that construction for new U.S. homes leapt in December to the highest rate in more than four years. Gains were logged all across the nation, as well as in buildings and single family homes.

The 12.1% jump in housing starts in December was the best reading since June 2008.

"Overall, this report reinforces the current narrative of a positive growth momentum in the housing sector," Millan Mulraine, a macro strategist at TD Securities told Market Watch.

A measure of homebuilders on the S&P 500 jumped 2.1%, poised for the highest closing level since 2007.

The second report that juiced markets was data from the Labor Department. A report revealed the number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected in the latest week to the lowest level in five years.

In the week ending Jan. 12, applications for jobless benefits fell by 37,000 to 335,000, marking the lowest level since Jan. 19, 2008, and well below estimates of 369,000.

"The labor market is certainly getting better," Brian Jones, senior U.S. economist at Societe General in New York, told Bloomberg News.

Even with typical seasonal adjustment, Jones added, "this is still a good report. Chances are claims remain at a fairly low level."

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Stock Market Today: Can S&P Nudge Closer to its All-Time High?

Chart up

The stock market today (Friday) will try to continue its impressive rally after the Standard & Poor's 500 Index closed at a five-year high Thursday.

The S&P 500 closed at 1,472.12, about 93 points away from its all-time high of 1,565 hit in October 2007 and its highest close since December of that year.

By 1 p.m., the S&P 500 was down just over 2 points, and the Dow was up 4 points, or 0.04%.

While the stock market today fights for a continued climb, here are companies investors should be eyeing.

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Is Harry Dent's Stock Market Crash Prediction as Crazy as it Seems?

Declining Business Economic forecaster Harry Dent just made another dire prediction, and investors should hope he's wrong.

Dent, bestselling author and financial newsletter writer, told CNBC Tuesday that he sees a stock market crash in the United States starting in the third quarter of 2013 and continuing for a year and a half.

Dent said real estate prices and stocks would plummet more than 60% by the end of 2014, or sooner, meaning the Dow Jones Industrial Average would fall below 6,000. He also said the United States would be close to bankruptcy by then.

Dent cited U.S. demographic shifts and the nation's debt crisis as the main drivers of a crash. He said had it not been for the U.S. Federal Reserve's recent moves to stimulate the economy, the stock market would already have collapsed.

"We call this the economy in a coma," he said. "Basically, without these trillions of dollars of stimulus, we would be in a downturn, in a depression, because we also have $42 trillion in private debt, the greatest debt bubble in history, and that needs to unwind."

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Five Stock Market Charts Bears Have Been Waiting For

Bear market edit As the bull market tries to enter its fifth year, many are wondering if it still has legs - but a handful of stock market charts warn there's high risk of a coming sell off.

In fact, a recent report from Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE ADR: CS) outlined 10 technical factors that show the market is at its most risk-on level since just before the stock market crash that began in 2007's third quarter.

"Many of our tactical indicators point to a consolidation phase in the equity markets, in the near-term," Credit Suisse Global Equity Strategist Andrew Garthwaite said in a note to clients.

For a closer look at this bearish forecast, check out these five stock market charts pointing to a pullback.

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Why The Fiscal Cliff "Deal" is Spelled P-O-R-K

Savings piggy bank

Behind the scenes of the Fiscal Cliff debate, there was plenty of f-bombing, poison pilling, and grandstanding leading up to the deal - and that was before the members of Congress and the Senate actually got serious with their usual ultimatums, followed by earnest- looking sound bites and posturing. But what gets me really riled up is the amount of "pork" contained in the bill...

Nine Lessons From The Greatest Trader Who Ever Lived

Chess battle The stock market has certainly produced its share of heroes and villains over the years. And while villains have been many, the heroes have been few.

One of the good guys (for me, at least) has always been Jesse L. Livermore. He's considered by many of today's top Wall Street traders to be the greatest trader who ever lived.

Leaving home at age 14 with no more than five bucks in his pocket, Livermore went on to earn millions on Wall Street back in the days when they still literally read the tape.

Long or short, it didn't matter to Jesse.

Instead, he was happy to take whatever the markets gave him because he knew what every good trader knows: Markets never go straight up or straight down.

In one of Livermore's more famous moves, he made a massive fortune betting against the markets in 1929, earning $100 million in short-selling profits during the crash. In today's dollars, that would be a cool $12.6 billion.

That's part of the reason why an earlier biography of his life, entitled Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, has been a must-read for experienced traders and beginners alike.

A gambler and speculator to the core, his insights into human nature and the markets have been widely quoted ever since.

Here are just a few of his market beating lessons:



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