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Stock market today

Stock Market Today: Will a Bad Earnings Season Spoil This Year's Gains?

Coming off the worst week of the year, market participants have a cautious stance in the stock market today as earnings season kicks off – and will likely disappoint.

The Dow fell 13.29 points, or 0.09%, to 14,565.25 last week. The S&P shed 15.91, or 1.01%, to end the week at 1,553.28.

Monday, guarded investors kept a wary eye on developments in Eurozone, nuclear tensions in the Korean Peninsula, and Alcoa Inc.'s (NYSE: AA) earnings after the bell-the unofficial kick-off to Q1 earnings reports.

Red flags are waving that companies will report a slowdown in corporate profits. A number of companies have delivered lower guidance, with pre-earnings announcements sloped to the negative side. Companies in the S&P are expected to increase Q1 earnings a measly 1.5% over last year, according to Thomson Reuters.

Weak earnings could push any nervous investors to take gains and bail on markets for a while.

"Right now, projections for earnings in 2013 and the market are based on optimistic assumption," Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst with S&P Dow Jones Indices told Barron's. "We can meet estimates if things move in the right direction. But the economy does not go straight up or down. There are bumps up or down. There are bumps in the road. And investors rarely get everything they need or want."

Here are some upcoming earnings reports to watch, as well as two of the biggest deals moving stocks this week.

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Housing Market

The Secret Behind the Housing Market "Recovery"

U.S. home prices climbed 10.2% in February, the biggest year-over-year gain since March 2006.

The data seemed to support that a housing market recovery is alive and well – or, is it?

Even though buying is up, banks aren't handing out mortgages at a high enough rate to support this climb.

We asked Money Morning Capital Wave Strategist Shah Gilani to explain what was behind this major housing market change. You might be surprised to learn who's driving the home buying – and what it means for the housing market recovery.

Watch his interview below for the answer.

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Top News

10 of the Best Margaret Thatcher Quotes

Margaret Thatcher, the first woman to serve as Britain's prime minister, passed away Monday, but her wisdom and achievements will live forever in the hearts and minds of fans.

Thatcher earned the nickname "Iron Lady," thanks to her uncompromising politics and leadership style. She served as prime minister for 11 years.

Here are some of her most memorable words delivered during her career.

margaret thatcher quotes
Margaret Thatcher
(October 13, 1925-April 8, 2013)

Ten of the Best Margaret Thatcher Quotes:

1. "If a Tory does not believe that private property is one of the main bulwarks of individual freedom, then he had better become a socialist and have done with it." Daily Telegraph, 1975

2. "Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them." Speech, 1976

3. "Pennies don't fall from heaven; they have to be earned here on earth." Speech, 1979

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Buy, Sell or Hold

Buy, Sell or Hold: What's So "Special" About Kellogg?

Everybody knows Kellogg Company (NYSE: K) by its superb line of breakfast cereals.

What they don't know is that thanks to the purchase of Pringles from Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) , Kellogg has become second in the snacks business behind PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP).

In fact, since Kellogg completed the $2.7 billion Pringle acquisition on June 1, 2012 the company's share price has increased over 30% with nary a pause.

Now I realize that eating just one Pringles potato chip is impossible, but does that justify the market's appetite for Kellogg's shares?

Here's my breakdown on the stock…

Retirement

A New Blueprint for Retirement Savings

Last week we looked at how the 4% rule for retirement savings was no longer useful, and has left many retirees without enough money to enjoy their golden years. But there's another reason retirement savings aren't delivering enough for us to live on after we stop working. It's not just that we aren't doing the […]

Income Stocks

My New Favorite Way to Make Killer Income

I'm going to tell you about my new favorite income play. They're known as Business Development Corporations, or BDCs for short.

Here's the story on BDCs – there are plenty of businesses out there generating between $2.5 million and $100 million a year. The problem is, because of Washington's bailout madness and banks hoarding cash, these businesses are starved for capital, so they're turning to private financing instead.

One business I know of, for example, is making a new open source platform called Sailfish to compete with Google's Android, Apple's iOS and Microsoft's Windows 8.

At its nucleus is a team of developers initially laid off from Nokia when Sailfish's prior incarnation, MeeGo, was ash-canned two years ago.

Because bankers could not get their minds around the concept of taking on the big boys, Sailfish is being bankrolled by a combination of severance pay, government business loans, and private financing to the tune of $13.5 million so far — all of whom will likely rue the day they passed on a project with more than $300 million in potential.

Tech Investing

The First Rule for Picking Winners in High-Tech Stocks

Last Sunday, I told you that the road to wealth was paved by tech.

I told you there was still hope for America – and for your retirement – because of the massive profits that high-tech stocks can generate.

But the truth is it's not enough to find an interesting company in a hot tech sector.

To score the kind of life-changing profits I told you about last week, you have to invest in the truly exemplary high-tech winners.

These are the companies that are changing the rules in computers, biotechnology, industrial materials, telecommunications, aerospace, and other cutting-edge sectors.

Those paradigm-changing ventures create markets where none existed, leapfrog existing technologies, and create products that their customers never even dreamed about… but then can't live without.

Washington

Sequestration Cuts Hit Cancer Patients While Billions Wasted

As of April 1, cancer clinics began turning away thousands of Medicare patients because of sequestration spending cuts while the University of Iowa is using almost $900,000 of taxpayer money to study whether there is any benefit to sex among New Zealand mud snails.

It's taken about a month, but the mandated federal spending cuts of sequestration have finally started to have a real impact.

Not as dire an impact as President Barack Obama warned about in the weeks preceding the sequester, but the consequences are growing more serious every day.

But what's most galling about all this is that despite the real harm the sequestration cuts are causing, wasteful government spending has continued unabated.

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Economic Reports

U.S. Jobs Report: How Unemployment is Really 14%

Employers added just 88,000 jobs in March, according to the U.S. jobs report released Friday, hiring at the slowest pace since June 2012.

The number was a huge miss. Analysts expected a gain of 200,000.

"We all over shot it," Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors in U.S. President Barack Obama's first administration, said on CNBC. "This is a punch to the gut. I mean, this is not a good number."

Since the government's way of calculating unemployment is frighteningly inaccurate, even with such a small amount of jobs added the unemployment rate fell from 7.7% to 7.6%.

That's because the labor force participation rate slipped from 63.5% to 63.3% — the lowest level since 1979.

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Emerging Markets

The Best Investments to Play Emerging Market Growth May Surprise You

If you're looking for ways to profit from soaring emerging market growth, you don't have to go overseas.

Some of the best investments to play emerging economies are in the United States.

Investors need exposure to emerging market growth, as U.S. GDP grew a paltry 2.2% last year, ranking 137th worldwide. The prospects for this year don't look much better.

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