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Larry D. Spears

Why Seasonal Trades Are the Solution to Market Volatility

Given all the volatility in the markets of late it might be time to try something with a high probability – though not a guarantee – of paying off.

I'm talking about "seasonal trades."

Seasonal trades are moves you can make in the futures markets, or now via exchange-traded funds (ETFs), that have a history of producing a profit.

Let me explain.

Seasonal trade opportunities arise from patterns that occur at specific times of the year. They are most apparent in the agricultural sector, where changing weather patterns have an impact on prices.

For example, one such seasonal trade – a bullish October sugar play that has posted a perfect record over the past 15 years, producing an average profit of $1,035 per futures contract in seven weeks or less – launched in mid-June.

That particular trade is keyed to the June conclusion of the sugar harvest in Mexico, the last of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. After that, existing stocks of sugar start to decline and prices are subject to weather scares that could disrupt Southern Hemisphere harvests and new-crop growth in the North. As a result, sugar prices typically tend to rise from mid-June through late July.

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What You Need to Know Before Buying Gold Coins

If you believe those late-night infomercials, radio-talk-show hosts or even those stunning sales figures for Gold Eagles, buying gold coins is a slam-dunk strategy for lasting wealth.

Just last month, for instance, U.S. Mint buyers ordered 107,000 ounces of bullion Gold Eagles – the third-best May in the series' 25-year history.

And this soaring interest in yellow-metal coinage isn't limited to the U.S. market. Take India, where the State Bank of Travancore announced in late April that a program to sell gold coins through five of its branches would be expanded to 60 branches in a single months' time. In fact, as one bullion-dealer executive said in reference to India's fifth-largest city: "In Chennai, even the poor buy [some] gold."

So does this mean you should run out and stock up on gold coins?

Not necessarily.

In fact, I'm going to let you in on a secret: If you're looking at gold coins as a true "investment," there's only one kind to consider.

The rest are a waste of your time.

The Only Gold Coins Investors Should Buy

With gold having doubled in price over the last four years – not to mention a U.S. dollar that continues to weaken – it's no surprise at all that the world coin markets are attracting buyers like moths to a flame. First timers often arrive and are confused by all that's available – including rare and antique coins, and a numbing array of "collector" and "commemorative" coins.

But here's a rule of thumb that will make things simple: If you're an investor looking to bolster your portfolio with a modest helping of "hard assets," there's really only one category of gold coins to consider.

I'm talking about bullion-based gold coins.

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Four Middle East Investments That Come with Little Risk and Big Potential

As I mentioned yesterday (Thursday) in Part One of this story about Middle East investments, instability makes investing in this tumultuous region fairly tricky. But that doesn't mean you ought to avoid it entirely.

After all, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its World Economic Outlook that the region's economy would expand at a 5.1% pace in 2011, outpacing the United States and Europe.

And contrary to the perception of many Westerners, that growth projection isn't based primarily on the price outlook for oil, which has trended higher for most of the past year. Rather, it's keyed to everything from construction and new-business development to banking, tourism and even Internet gaming.

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Two Options Strategies That Can Turn Short-Term Price Gyrations Into Big-Time Profits

Everyone acknowledges that at its most basic level the stock market is driven by fear and greed. And, in the past, the immediate impact of fear has been far more dramatic than the short-term effect of greed.

In other words, stock prices have historically tended to fall faster – and further – when investors are running scared than they rise when investors get a pleasant surprise.

Lately, however, with Treasury yields still near all-time lows, commodity prices hovering near record highs, and little else offering significant potential, there's a lot of money out there in mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), retirement accounts and other institutional portfolios that's looking for a place to go.

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How to Turn a Tidal Wave of Profit From the Global Shipping Industry

The shipping industry plays an indispensable role in connecting consumers with their most cherished goods. But many investors unfamiliar with its inner-workings underestimate its potential as a massive profit generator.

Meanwhile, investors who are aware of its importance, and can track the volatile ups and downs of the companies that provide shipping services, frequently score big gains from its oft-repeating profit opportunities.

To get a quick idea of the enormity of worldwide shipping activity, you need only look at the U.S. trade numbers.

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Agricultural Commodities Markets Are Fertile Ground for Profit

Commodities have received an unprecedented amount of attention over the past year, largely because of the rising price of gasoline and dramatic moves by the precious metals.

However, gold, silver and oil haven't been the only high-flyers. Although they haven't generated nearly as many headlines, agricultural commodities markets also have seen substantial price gains over the past year.

And, given steadily growing supply-demand imbalances linked to a mushrooming global population, upward price pressure in agricultural commodities markets will almost certainly persist for years to come — meaning repeated profit opportunities for investors savvy enough to ride the trends.

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Industrial Demand Set to Drive a Rebound in Silver Prices

After a shocking upward climb to nearly $50 an ounce, silver prices have been walloped over the past two days – plunging to $41.50 an ounce in afternoon trading yesterday (Tuesday).

But regardless of this sharp decline, now isn't the time to panic. After all, the U.S. Federal Reserve has given no indication that it plans to tighten monetary policy anytime soon, and as a result the dollar continues to weaken.

That bodes well for all precious metals, which serve well as a store of value. Furthermore, silver has another trump card – its widespread use in industry and manufacturing.

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Silver Options Strategies: How to Pay a Bargain Price for the White Metal

In last Wednesday's Money Morning special report on silver, several of our financial gurus projected higher prices ahead for "the other precious metal." Since then, silver has climbed about 5% — hitting $43 an ounce yesterday (Monday). Silver is now nearing its record high of $50.35 set in January 1980.

For those with significant profits already in hand from silver's hot streak, Money Morning has offered some strategies for protecting those gains against a near-term pullback. But if you haven't yet jumped on the silver bandwagon, don't worry. You can still climb aboard without risking too much.

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Cash-Rich Companies Share the Wealth with Trillion-Dollar M&A Activity in 2011

Mergers and acquisitions, or M&A activity, so far in 2011 has been a driving force in the stock market's positive performance.

In fact, global M&A activity in the first quarter topped $799.8 billion, the most since 2007's pre-crash frenzy, according to a recent report in Forbes magazine., which tracks the M&A market, says 130 deals have either already been closed in 2011 or are currently pending. And, while the total number of global deals is down slightly from the same period in 2010, the actual value of the deals is up more than 55% (with deals involving U.S. companies accounting for 49.6% of that total – a 117% jump from 2010).

Looking forward, most M&A analysts now predict more than $3 trillion in takeover activity for all of 2011.

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Pocket Higher Profits By Spotting the Next Takeover Target

Investors lucky enough to hold shares in a company before it's acquired by another can snag some hefty profits – and this year has been one of the hottest on record for deals.

Global merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the first quarter topped $799.8 billion, the most since 2007's pre-crash frenzy, according to a recent report in Forbes magazine. Looking forward, most M&A analysts now predict well more than $3 trillion in takeover activity for all of 2011.

The question is, how can you spot a likely takeover target before the announcement of a potential deal hits the news?

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