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  • U.S. Economy

  • What Can 1962 Tell Us About Today's Stock Market? We dove into market history a lot recently with studies of the 3%+ up day a couple weeks ago as well as a look at the growth rate of the index of Leading Economic Indicators. The takeaway: History suggests there are grounds for being optimistic about the stock market.

    Now here's a new reason for optimism: The current situation bears a striking resemblance to the 1962 summer stock market rebound.

    Here's the scoop: In early 1962, a head-and-shoulders pattern emerged that looked very similar to the one that appeared to have taken shape in April-June this year. When the neckline of the pattern was violated in April 1962, stocks fell like a ton of bricks into a June low that was ultimately 27% lower than the January 1962 high.

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  • How to Profit From a Slowing U.S. Economy In the Second Half of 2010 As much as the architects of the U.S. stimulus might otherwise wish, it's becoming increasingly apparent that the U.S. economy won't be hot-rodding its way into a higher gear in the year's second half.

    At best, the U.S. economy will chug along in low gear - managing only minimal overall growth, while bouncing over economic speed bumps that exist in more than a few key sectors. At worst, the engine of economic recovery will sputter, or stall completely - leaving Americans stranded alongside the fiscal roadside, or to roll backward into a double-dip recession.

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  • Is the U.S. Economy Destined for Deflation? With inflation low and the recovery waning, a growing chorus of analysts is beginning to suspect that U.S. policymakers aren't doing enough to head off deflation.

    U.S. producer prices fell for a third straight month in June, sliding 0.5%. That follows declines of 0.1% in May and 0.3% in April. Core inflation, which excludes food and energy costs, managed only a 0.1% increase for the month, and is up just 1.1% in the past 12 months. The U.S. Federal Reserve's preferred target for inflation is 2%.

    Meanwhile a high rate of unemployment continues to jeopardize the U.S. recovery, and economists fear that a significant drop in economic growth could tip the scales toward a deflationary spiral.

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  • The Seven Golden Rules That Will Keep You Safe in Today's 'New Normal' Markets Pundits are talking about the "New Normal," a not-so-subtle hint at the sub-par growth that's expected from the U.S. economy.

    Those pundits have picked the right book. But as far as investors are concerned they're reading from the wrong chapter. The "New Normal" isn't just about the economy. It's an epic story about not-so-great expectations - for the financial markets.

    And - unlike its Dickensian counterpart - this tale doesn't have an especially happy ending.

    For the seven rules that will let you profit in "New Normal" markets, please read on... Read More...
  • The BP Relief Wells … And the Two Nightmare Scenarios to Fear Although the global energy sector is entering its most-promising stretch in decades - with more new technologies and more investment opportunities than ever before - I just can't seem to get away from BP PLC (NYSE ADR: BP) and its problems.

    Take last Thursday, for instance. I began the day at FOX Business News, where the interviewer wanted me to explain what will happen if the BP relief wells fail. Then I spent an hour as the guest on a radio talk show from Johannesburg, South Africa, detailing what options are available to BP. Later still, I served as a consultant to a Wall Street investment crew - via conference call - once again on the status of the BP relief wells.

    The BP relief wells are right now the dominant topic on everyone's mind. But there are two potential scenarios - of "nightmare proportions" - that investors need to know about.

    Let me explain...

    To understand the possible nightmares that BP faces in the months to come, please read on... Read More...
  • Alcoa Earnings Surprise is Positive News for Global Economic Recovery When Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) kicked off earnings season on Monday by soundly beating analysts' expectations, it flashed positive signals for the company and, more importantly, the entire global economic recovery.

    The aluminum giant swung from a loss of $0.26 in the same quarter last year to a gain of $0.13 per share, exceeding by 18% the 11-cent average estimate of 17 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.

    "It's a very positive signal for economic growth and the stock market generally," John Stephenson, who helps manage $1.6 billion including Alcoa shares at First Asset Investment Management in Toronto, told Bloomberg. "Maybe end-use demand has not been destroyed. That's a very good sign and a great way to start off this Q2 earnings season."

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  • The S&P 500 is Set for a Surge… But It Won't Come Easy Stocks zipped higher in the past week, capping the first four-day rally since early 2009. Get out the party hats and confetti, right? Bears tried to knock shares lower on Tuesday and early Thursday, but after they failed bids hit the tape in a big way and gave it lift.

    Technically, stocks continued to move out of the invalidated head-and-shoulders pattern we've discussed lately. With support below at 1,040, the S&P 500 Index should be good for a run to resistance at the 1,095 to 1,115 area in coming days as long as earnings reports and corporate outlooks are supportive.
    But the bulls have their work cut out for them there.

    To find out more about where stocks are headed next read on...

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  • With "Risk Off" Trades Waning, U.S. Stocks Could Be Ready to Reverse Course There are new signs that institutional traders are preparing for a change in direction of the U.S. dollar and European euro that may have big implications for U.S. stocks.

    For months, the winning trade was to short stocks, the euro, and commodities, while buying gold, bonds and the dollar. Commentators labeled this the "risk off" trade since gold and bonds were seen as safe-haven assets. But when crowd mentality is at work, and sentiment - not fundamentals - is driving the bids, there really isn't such a thing as a "safe" trade. It's all speculation.

    Take yesterday (Tuesday), for example: After surging 131 points, or 1.4%, out of the gate, the Dow Jones Industrial Average relinquished most of its advance to close just 16 points higher at 9,702.98. Meanwhile the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, which had climbed 1.5% to 1,038 in early trading, ended the day just 0.18% higher.

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  • Government Spending Cutbacks Increase Odds of Double-Dip Recession The odds of slower economic growth or even a double-dip recession are increasing as industrial countries, led by the United States & United Kingdom, embark on the most aggressive government spending cutbacks and tightening of fiscal policy in four decades.

    As they reduce or eliminate stimulus programs installed in reaction to the Great Recession that began in December 2007, governments are gambling they can pare debt without strangling an economic recovery.

    Nations will reduce their primary budget deficits, excluding interest payments, by 1.6 percentage points next year, the most since the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) began keeping records in 1970, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) economists. The budget squeeze will lop 0.9 percentage point off growth in 2011.

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  • Unemployment Report Shows Sluggish Recovery Will Take Years to Replace Jobs Lost in Great Recession Unemployment figures released Friday confirmed that the U.S. economy is still recovering, but they also showed it will take years to replace the 8 million jobs lost during the Great Recession.

    And until meaningful hiring takes place, consumers are unlikely to loosen their purse strings, the key to putting the economy back on track to full recovery.
    Employment fell in June for the first time this year, reflecting a drop in federal census workers and a smaller-than-forecast gain in private hiring.

    Payrolls declined by 125,000 as the government cut 225,000 temporary workers conducting the 2010 census, Labor Department figures in Washington showed. Economists projected a decline of 130,000, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey. Private employers added 83,000 to their payrolls.

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  • U.S. Economy: Headed For a Second-Half Slowdown Constant stock market volatility, a crippled job market and the troubles plaguing the European markets are starting to take their toll on the U.S. economy. After the major market rally of 2009, is the U.S. economy headed for a second-half slowdown... or, worse, the dreaded double-dip recession? Read this report to find out exactly what’s in store for the U.S. economy... Read More...
  • The 'New' Energy Sector: Windfall Profits for Investors, Energy Independence for the U.S. Economy The BP PLC (NYSE ADR: BP) oil spill has been a wakeup call for energy-sector regulators.

    But it's been an even bigger wakeup call for investors.

    Years from now, investors will look back at this period as a turning point - the start of the greatest profit opportunity of this generation. And that's not all. The post-oil-spill period will go down in history as the period during which the United States was finally able to break its dependence on foreign oil, says Dr. Kent Moors, a career energy-sector consultant who works with governments and corporations throughout the world.

    Investors who understand the energy-sector shifts that are taking place "will make more money in energy investments over the next several years than in any other sector during any other period in their lifetimes," says Dr. Moors, who is also the editor of the Oil & Energy Investor newsletter. With the changes he's currently projecting, "a large measure of energy independence for the U.S. becomes possible. And I'm not just talking about a mere economic 'recovery' here. We'd be looking at a standard of living that's 60% higher, an economy expanding at 5% to 7% a year and - most important of all - a future that we could dictate."

    To understand the top trends unfolding in the new energy sector, please read on... Read More...
  • Money Morning Midyear Forecast: The U.S. Economy is Headed For a Second-Half Slowdown Most textbook economists say that the U.S. economy is engaged in a broad-based recovery. But while there's a consensus that there's no "double-dip" recession on the horizon, the evidence suggests the nation's economy is headed for a slowdown in the second half of 2010.

    The reason: In a market that derives 70% of its growth from consumer spending, the last half of this year will be all about those consumers - and about the economy's inability to generate enough jobs to keep the nation's cash registers ringing.

    If you add to that concern the end of the various government stimulus efforts, possible fallout from the Eurozone debt contagion, and oil in the Gulf of Mexico defiling the shores of four states, you end up with an economic outlook that's clouded with uncertainty.

    And that uncertainty will continue to stifle hiring and will result in another round of consumer belt-tightening - and a continued economic malaise.

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  • United States Fears Economic Stimulus Measures Will Choke on Europe's Drastic Budget Slashing While U.S. President Barack Obama will be gunning for more economic stimulus measures at this weekend's Group of 20 (G20) meeting in Canada, European lawmakers continue drastic efforts to rein in spending.

    The coordination of global efforts to promote economic recovery will be the main issue at the weekend's meeting, which was set to spotlight the value of China's currency before Beijing announced Saturday that it would allow the yuan to appreciate. The United States and Europe's differing views on the most effective strategies to maintain global economic growth and slash bloated government budgets are increasing tensions between leaders.

    "There is a need to move toward rebalancing," Stewart M. Patrick, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, told CNN. "But every country has different domestic political demands, and that is what drives decision making."

    President Obama is worried that drastic austerity measures in Europe will choke global growth and collapse a fragile recovery.

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  • The Sovereign Debt Crisis: Bad For Europe, Good For U.S. Stocks For several months now, we've been talking about the post-financial-crisis "new world order" that's emerged from the speculative excesses, recessionary realities and regulatory breakdowns of recent years. This new world order has created a world of lucrative new profit opportunities - that are governed by a new set of profit rules.

    In terms of that whole new rules/new profit opportunities paradigm, here's one that may surprise you: The ongoing European crisis could end up as a net positive for U.S. stocks.

    Let me explain...

    To see how Europe's travails can aid U.S. stocks, please read on... Read More...