MarketWatch top 10 stories June 20-24
U.S. stocks finished lower Friday, with the Dow Industrials marking a third-straight session of losses, a day after Moody's Investors Service put ratings of more than a dozen Italian banks on review and Oracle Corp. reported disappointing results.
The S&P 500 fell for a third straight session on Friday and was off 0.2% for the week.
Also off for a third consecutive session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.6% for the week.
The Nasdaq Composite rose for the first week in six, scoring a 1.4% gain.y
Also, please be sure to watch our Week Ahead videos on Europe and Asia.
Greg Morcroft, assistant managing editor
Asia Week Ahead: Japan's Tankan Survey, China PMI
Europe Week Ahead:Greece, Lloyd's in Focus
Don't look now, but the first clunker in the quarter-century history of Pixar Animation Studios may be hitting theaters this weekend.The vaunted studio, since 2006 a division of Walt Disney Co., is putting out "Cars 2," a sequel to its own 2006 computer-animated feature, and it's not getting the usual warm greeting that recent Pixar releases have received.Critics' ratings for "Cars 2" are a cut below that of the likes of Pixar's three "Toy Story" films, "Wall-E," "Up," "Ratatouille" — and just about any other film put out by the studio that revolutionized animated films. In fact, the closest film to "Cars 2" in critics' eyes was the original "Cars," the worst performer at the box office over the last decade for Pixar. But even that got higher marks than "Cars 2." Read MarketWatch coverage of the "Cars 2" release
Greece appeared on track Friday to receive more aid provided that the government can win parliamentary approval of unpopular, additional austerity measures next week, as authorities scramble to avoid a potentially devastating sovereign-debt default in the euro zone.Speaking to reporters at the end of two-day meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was confident Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou would take any steps needed to secure parliamentary backing of the 78 billion euro ($110.9 billion) program of austerity measures and sales of state-owned assets. Read full MarketWatch coverage of Greek Debt crisis
The International Energy Agency's decision to tap emergency reserves of crude oil marks an attempt to stave off a more severe economic slowdown and to show the world some measure of control over oil markets, analysts said Thursday. The U.S. and other members of the IEA announced Thursday the release of 60 million barrels to markets over the next 30 days to offset losses from Libya. The U.S. will tap its Strategic Petroleum Reserve to contribute half of the 60 million barrels. Read MarketWatch coverage of IEA decision
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday he didn't have all the answers as to why the economy has struggled recently as the U.S. central bank closed the doors on a controversial bond purchase program. "We don't have a precise read on why this slower pace of growth is persisting," Bernanke told a press conference after the Federal Open Market Committee meeting where the central bank said it would end a $600 billion bond purchase program as planned in eight days and kept interest rates at historic lows. Read MarketWatch coverage of FOMC meeting and Bernanke press conference
Low-cost carrier AirAsia placed a firm order Thursday with Airbus for 200 A320 Neo aircraft, capping a blockbuster week for the European plane maker in which it won over $72 billion worth of business at the Paris Air Show. The single-aisle, narrow-body A320 Neo (new engine option) stole the limelight at Le Bourget airport this week. The plane is said to deliver fuel savings of 15% and is a response to airlines' concerns about soaring fuel costs. The Neo, which will be available beginning in 2015, won 667 commitments worth $60.9 billion at the Paris show, Airbus said. Read MarketWatch coverage of Airbus at the Paris Air Show
Forget Bernanke or Greece. The real news on Wall Street this week occurred when an analyst stuck his neck under the falling blade of Research in Motion Ltd. shares with an audacious buy recommendation. Arguing that the 60% plunge in shares of the maker of BlackBerrys in the past four months already accounts for the weakness the Canadian company has reported in the past week, analyst Kevin Smithen of Macquarie Capital initiated coverage Wednesday with an outperform rating. Read full Research in Motion coverage, on MarketWatch
QE2 is steaming into port, and Capt. Bernanke is about to broadside the S.S. United States.That's the view of Robert Arnott, an influential voice in the study of portfolio asset allocation, indexing and risk management, and founder of Research Affiliates, a Newport Beach, Calif.-based investment management firm. Arnott hasn't always been so pessimistic about the future of the U.S. economy, but nowadays he sees the dark clouds of what he calls a "3-D Hurricane" — a perfect storm of deficits, debt and demographics that Arnott said creates "serious headwinds for investors in the years ahead." Read MarketWatch's Money Talks column
Mark Twain was wrong. History really does repeat.Looking at the financial headlines over the past week, it is 2008 all over again, only this time with names of people, places and financial institutions that are harder for most of us to pronounce. It's the same disease only in a different (and far bigger) patient. We have once again reached the point where everyone knows that the problem is solvency, not liquidity. And in an interconnected, interdependent, global financial/sovereign complex — or what Peter Atwater now calls the "interplex" — where everything is somehow a derivative of something else (and vice versa), it is just a matter of your degree of impact. Read MarketWatch Outside the Box commentary
It's said that what you don't know can't hurt you. No so. What you don't know can cost you, and sometimes cost dearly. Case in point: Advisers and others say there's a host of unknown costs and fees lurking inside your 401(k) plans, IRAs and other such retirement accounts. And often, those fees can make a world of difference in your overall investment returns. The AARP launched a 401(k) fee calculator on its web site that aims to help investors better understand 401(k) fees and their potential impact. You have to register to use the calculator, but it's easy. .And come Jan. 1, 2012, plan sponsors will have to disclose the fees participants pay for their 401(k) plans. Read MarketWatch report on 10 fees that hit your 401 (k)
Bank reserves swelling and commodity prices surging — that's the situation that the U.S. economy is now confronting.But it also was the case back in 1937. And that's what worries Ethan Harris, North American economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.He fears that now, like then, tightening of monetary and fiscal policy could cause a recession, so much so that he thinks a temporary default on U.S. Treasury obligations may be preferable to overly swift spending cuts.His view stands at odds with the rest of Wall Street, which has frequently communicated to congressional Republicans as well as the White House a desire to see the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling increased.