Stock Market Today
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In the past, you used to be able to safely invest at the bank. But now, it might be wiser to invest in the bank, as the following institutions are looking more like attractive stocks to buy now.
Thanks to the U.S. Federal Reserve, interest rates will continue to be low for an extended period of time, meaning savers would be lucky to get 1%.
Meanwhile, bank stocks have gone from unloved and out of favor to being an industry on the verge of recovery - and able to pay dividends to shareholders.
Income investors have a new opportunity with certain bank stocks. Banks that eliminated or reduced dividend payouts to preserve capital during the crisis are now loosening the purse strings a bit.
For example, many regional banks are starting to reinstate and raise dividends. As residential and commercial real estate markets continue to stabilize, banks should start to grow once again and higher earnings will lead to very high rates of dividend growth.
These bank stocks should be part of every income investor's portfolio right now as the long-term prospects for capital gains in addition to income are excellent.
Here are a few that rank among the regional bank stocks to buy as they raise payouts.
Why Not All Good Companies Are Among the Best Stocks to Buy
Sometimes it's easy to mislabel fantastic companies as great stocks to buy, but the two attributes don't always go hand in hand.
That's because sometimes these great companies watch their share prices climb faster than the underlying fundamentals.
Since these companies are overpriced, they are usually most vulnerable to a market correction.
Investors should sweep their portfolios now to make sure they aren't holding any of these "high-risk" stocks.
To identify them, investors should look at the price/earnings ratio and price/earnings/growth ratio of the companies they hold.
High P/E and P/E/G ratios often indicate companies whose share prices have been bid up to a point that is no longer justified by fundamentals. The companies themselves might be good investments, but not at the current share price.
Here are two companies that fall into this category right now.
Stock Market: Q1 Was One for the Record Books, So What's Next?
The U.S. stock market logged an impressive first quarter.
Shrugging off budget cuts, tax hikes, and more Eurozone misery, U.S. stocks climbed to record territory on several occasions.
On March 5, the Dow broke through its record close of 14,165, previously hit Oct. 9, 2007. Meanwhile, the S&P has been flirting with its 1,565 record high for weeks.
The most recent milestones came Thursday when the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at yet another record, and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index finally closed above its all-time high.
Thursday closed out Q1 with the Dow adding 52.38 points, or 0.36%, to close at 14,578.54. The S&P tacked on 6.34, or 0.41%, to close at 1,569.19.
Here's a look at the quarter's biggest gains and losses, as well as what investors should do now as we head into April.
Three Stocks to Buy Now as Retailers Enjoy a Rally
When screening for good stocks to buy now, you may have noticed this year's continued climb for retailers.
The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (NYSE: XRT), a collection of nearly 100 stocks, ranging from apparel retailers to specialty stores to Internet retailers, has surged nearly 13% year-to-date. The more concentrated Market Vectors Retail ETF (NYSE: RTH) is up 9.6%.
Even some of the retail sector's dogs have gotten in on the act. Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY), a stock that was cut in half in the second half of 2012, has nearly doubled this year. After being dead money for several years, The Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) started breaking out in 2012 and has kept the good times going this year with a gain of nearly 13%.
Statistics like that might imply that investors who have been slow to embrace retail stocks may have already missed out on the easy money. That risk always exists following voracious broader market rallies, such as the one investors have been treated to over the past few months.
The good news is there are a few retailers that have more upside potential in store for the rest of 2013.
Stock Market Today is Up, But is a Pullback on the Way?
A handful of economic data helped the stock market today (Tuesday) resume a robust rally - but are we due for a pullback?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 111.90 points, or 0.77%, at 14,559.65. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index jumped 12.08 points, or 0.78%, to 1,563.77 - just a couple points from its record high. The Nasdaq climbed 17.18 points, or 0.53%, to close at 3,252.48.
The broad-based stock market rally followed a sell-off Monday, which took the Dow down 64.28 points, or 0.4%, to close at 14,447.75. The S&P and Nasdaq both fell 0.3% as investors mulled a bailout deal for Cyprus.
But the old adage that investors have a very short memory rang true Tuesday. Shrugging off yesterday's woes, market participants instead focused on encouraging U.S. economic data.
Buoying stocks Tuesday was a Commerce Department report that showed durable goods orders surged 5.7% in February. That handily beat economists' expectations of a 0.5% rise and reversed January's 3.8% plunge.
A separate report Tuesday revealed single-family home prices began 2013 with the biggest annual increase in six-and-a-half years. The S&P/Case Shiller composite index report is a further sign of a recovery in the housing market.
But the big question is if the rally will last.
What Germany's Energy Problems Can Teach Us About Our Own
Marina and I will soon board a plane for another trip to Europe.
We are off to Frankfurt, where I have meetings on European natural gas import costs; meanwhile, my better half gets to spoil our grandchildren, who live just outside the city.
My responsibility is to address the energy balance problems emerging for the continent. The focus may be on Germany and the rest of Western Europe, but these problems are emerging elsewhere around the world.
With Berlin opting to phase out nuclear power, the continent's largest economy now has a daunting task to assemble an energy mix that meets expected demand.
This started as a political tradeoff, but it is likely to become the major concern in the broader national strategy to stave off recession. A similar tradeoff is developing in the United States.
A much-ballyhooed German venture into solar and wind has hit a brick wall. There is now a played-down move to import additional nuclear-generated power from neighbors, but now the country is doing the unthinkable to meet its energy demands.
This environmentally conscious country, with one of the strongest green political movements in Europe, is now importing more coal than at any point in the past decade.
The options are limited, along with the time to decide on how to implement all of it. That is likely to result in a political tradeoff distasteful to just about every political party and interest group in Germany.
However, the problems do not end there.
Stocks to Buy: Huge Growth for a Bargain Price
Some of the most exciting stocks to buy are those with impressive growth potential.
Companies that are able to grow earnings for a long period of time can often see their stock prices soar for years, creating tremendous wealth for shareholders. Stocks to Buy: Huge Growth for a Bargain Price
Unfortunately, much of what passes for growth stock investing today is really momentum investing in disguise. Today's growth stock investors all tend to own and trade the same really popular companies that have already experienced significant price appreciation.
While it may be exciting to share cocktail party chatter with friends about the shares of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) or Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (Nasdaq: GMCR), odds are that the real growth and profit opportunity has passed.
It makes more sense for growth investors to look for stocks of companies that have been growing sales and earnings at a consistently high rate, but are off Wall Street's radar. Companies that have very high rates of institutional ownership and lots of analyst coverage from the major firms are more than likely fully priced. All the growth potential is well defined and everyone already owns the stock.
The big rally moves in growth stocks come when the institutional money discovers the company and intense buying pressure develops as they all pile into the stock, pushing prices dramatically higher.
One such company that fits the bill now is CPI Aerostructures Inc. (NYSEAMEX: CVU).
4 Stocks to Buy in the Exploding Cybersecurity Market
There's a story out of England I heard recently that's one of the most ironic tales of how developments in technology - cybersecurity, in particular - need to be taken more seriously.
The story started in 2009, when 18-year-old Nicholas Webber was arrested for using fraudulent credit card details to pay for a penthouse suite at the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane, Central London.
When police examined Webber's laptop, they found details of 100,000 stolen credit cards linked to losses totaling 16.2 million pounds ($24.6 million)
Turns out Webber ran the Internet crime forum GhostMarket. The site allowed hackers to meet up virtually, create computer viruses and share stolen IDs and private credit card data.
In 2011 Webber was sentenced to five years in prison. Once in prison Webber was allowed to participate in a computer class.
And earlier this year, he hacked the prison computer system.
With Another Stock Market Record in Reach, Here's What to Do Now
It's time for some insight.
I'm constantly asked where I think the stock market is going next. Since the Dow recently reached new highs and the S&P 500 is pushing its old October 2007 highs, it's no wonder that's the question on everyone's mind and lips.
My answer is: I don't know where it's going. But I do know what to do about it.
Here's the thing...
Protect Your Retirement with This Stock Market Crash "Insurance"
We buy insurance on our houses, our cars and even on our artwork and jewelry.
But that's not the case with our retirement savings - the money we spend our working lifetimes to amass - the money that will be our sole means of support once we stop working.
With our 401(k)s, IRAs and other socked-away savings, we're content to "let it ride."
That's a reckless and ulcer-inducing investing strategy.
And, as we'll show you in a minute, it's even riskier than most of us realize.
The thing is, it doesn't have to be that way.