Stock Market Today
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average was at a record high after nearly six years, as the stock market today (Tuesday) rallied enough to push the index up nearly 70 points at the open.
Just minutes after the opening bell, the Dow sailed passed its all-time high of 14,165 hit on Oct. 9, 2007. Less than a half-hour into the trading session the Dow roared higher by triple digits propelling benchmark to yet another record.
By 1 p.m. the Dow was up 146.99, or 1.04%, at 14,274.81. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 17.32 or 1.14%, to 1,542.52, leaving it in striking distance if its record close of 1,565 hit in 2007. The Nasdaq climbed 43.39 or 1.37% to 3,225.42.
Money has poured into stocks over the last several months as individuals have begun to feel more comfortable about the health of the economy - but can it last?
"The question is, can the Dow maintain these levels? The market is interested in risk-that's why the Dow is higher, why the riskier currencies are higher," Matthew Lifson, currency trader at Cambridge Mercantile Group in Princeton told Reuters.
Stocks to Buy Now: These Three Retailers Are Prime Takeover Targets
The wave of deal-making on Wall Street hasn't extended to retail yet. But that's about to change.
That's because retailers make for great M&A candidates - which also makes for some stocks to buy now ahead of this takeover trend.
Takeovers provide chances for companies to cross-sell products and negotiate better with landlords and suppliers. Plus, retailers face low regulatory barriers to deals.
That's why major retailers are among a list of 71 companies Morningstar says are some of the most likely takeover targets this year.
"We think 2013 will bring an uptick of deal activity," said R.J. Hottovy, director of global consumer equity research for Morningstar. "There's no shortage of companies with available capital on their balance sheets and high operating margins, fewer organic growth opportunities and candidates with attractive valuations."
Stocks to Buy: Will Solar Shine This Year?
Since legendary investor Warren Buffett took a liking to solar this year, investors have been wondering if it's time to revisit this beleaguered industry when looking for stocks to buy in 2013.
The solar sector has endured a beatdown for about two years, with massive oversupply of solar panels and unfavorable publicity combining to keep solar stocks down.
MidAmerican announced a $2 billion to $2.5 billion deal to buy two California solar power projects from SunPower Corp. (Nasdaq: SPWR). MidAmerican also agreed in January to invest in what will be the world's largest solar photovoltaic operation, which is partly owned by First Solar Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR).
Many solar stocks and solar ETFs, including Market Vectors Solar Energy (NYSE: KWT) and Claymore/MAC Global Solar Index (NYSE: TAN), have soared on the MidAmerican news. They're both up about 17% this year.
Does this mean investors should follow Buffett into solar stocks? Here's a look at the sector.
Stock Market Today: Apple, Bernanke, Durable Goods in Focus
The stock market today (Wednesday) opened modestly higher before staging a strong rally by mid-day.
Shortly after noon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had jumped 133 points, or .96%, to 14,033, putting it within reach of its all-time high of 14,164, set in 2007. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 15.71, or 1.05%, to 1,512; and the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed 35.18, or 1.09%, to 3,163.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke remains in the spotlight today. The Fed chief continues to defend the central bank's easy-money policies in his second day of testimony before Congress.
Also garnering attention was the Commerce Department's report that showed a 5.2% drop in orders for durable goods - products designed to last at least three years. The decline, steeper than the 3.5% decline economists had expected, came after strong gains in the previous month.
The slump shows the impact from reduced spending, ahead of sequestration, that has already taken hold.
With defense contractors feeling the effects of impending automatic spending cuts, defense capital goods orders plunged 69.5% in January, marking the steepest drop in more than a decade.
Also falling was demand for civilian aircraft, which plummeted 34%. The steep drop in this volatile category was attributed to a decline in orders at The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) due to battery problems in its Dreamliner 787.
The stock market today got a boost from the National Association of Realtors monthly index report of pending sales of existing U.S. homes - up 4.5% in January from the previous month, handily beating the 1.5% analysts had projected.
And providing a cushion, if not a catalyst, to markets, was an announcement from Fitch Ratings. The firm said that while sequester and a U.S. government shutdown would "erode confidence," it wouldn't prompt a downgrade of the nation's AAA credit rating.
Does the Heinz Deal Mean Warren Buffett Has Become a Doomsday Prepper?
At first sight, Warren Buffett's deal with the Brazilian-led private equity firm 3G Capital to purchase H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ) looks strange.
At $28 billion the famed ketchup maker is valued at a rich 23 times earnings, and Buffett won't even control the management, which is to be left to 3G. Given Warren's long and storied history, something doesn't make sense.
But maybe he's become a doomsday prepper.
In the age of Ben Bernanke, canned baked beans and the like seem to make as the ideal investment. Or maybe Buffett feels that the dollar is about to be wiped out by hyperinflation.
Of course, in those circumstances, you would normally buy gold, but maybe Buffett believes that the crash will be so severe that the economy as a whole will break down.
In that case, you'd want guns and ammunition. Buffett's holding company Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A and BRK-B) does not own a gun manufacturer, but a subsidiary manufactures shoes under license from Browning Arms Company, so no doubt a deal could be done.
However, an even more strategic asset in such an event would be imperishable canned food, and you can certainly imagine a gigantic stockpile of Heinz 57 varieties being accumulated in warehouses around Omaha, maybe accompanied by a lake of ketchup, allowing Buffett to corner the market in baked beans and condiments.
"Safe" Stocks You Need to Dump Right Now
Many investors have one or two "safe" stocks they own that, for whatever reason, have become sentimental favorites they never consider selling.
These companies typically are household names, large, and considered by almost everyone - even fund managers - to be safe investments.
That means even if you're not holding such stocks in your personal portfolio, you may own mutual funds that own them, or they could lurk somewhere in your 401(k).
Many "safe" stocks are really hidden time bombs, ready to blow a big hole in your portfolio at any moment.
And as Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald points out, even the most stable, veteran companies can morph into portfolio-destroying dogs.
"Just because you think a stock is safe doesn't mean that the markets will treat it that way," Fitz-Gerald said.
What's more, he said, is that "the very definition of safe has changed," noting how the massive leverage common on Wall Street can unravel a company almost overnight, as happened with Lehman Brothers at the height of the 2008 financial crisis.
Why Oil Refiners Are Among the Best Energy Stocks to Buy Now
Shale oil production continues its upward path, increasing overall U.S. oil production and making specific groups of energy stocks among the best to buy right now.
In fact, the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) reported last month that domestic oil production surpassed the 7 million barrel a day level, the highest point in nearly 20 years. Production this year, the EIA says, will rise by another 14%.
This is obviously good news for the companies producing that oil, and it gets even better. Many industries outside the energy sector, including chemicals and railroads, have benefited from the shale boom.
But there is one subsector in the energy industry that has reaped the rewards of plentiful oil from the Bakken and other areas more than any other, and that's the refining industry.
Stock Market Today: Finally Some Gains After Two-Day Slump
After two days of losses, the stock market today (Friday) reversed the slide and opened higher, thanks to better-than-expected earnings from Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) and American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG)
Shortly before 1 p.m. on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 114 points to 13,994.62, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 10.6 to 1,513.02 and the Nasdaq advanced 25 to 3,156.34.
While all three indexes are on track for their worst week of the year, the Dow is still up some 6% since the start of 2013, the S&P 500 has gained 5% and the Nasdaq has tacked on almost 4% despite giving back all of February's gains during the two-day selloff.
As Volatility Hits New Lows, It Could Be Time to Sell
The average daily price volatility of stocks has fallen more than 60% since the beginning of 2013. It's the biggest straight-line drop in some 82 years.
A lot of investors are rejoicing. After all, stocks have risen an average of 17% a year when volatility is as low as it is right now, Bloomberg reports.
There is, however, a dark side to low volatility. Namely, it tends to precede powerful reversals that can wipe out investors, as was the case in 2000 and early 2008, and at other key turning points over the past 100 years.
Today, I'm going to talk a bit about what low volatility means for you in terms of upside, and also show you how to protect yourself in a downslide.
Let's start with the concept of average daily volatility itself.