MarketWatch top 10 stories Nov. 14 -18
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) ended up 25.43 points, or 0.2%, to 11,796.16, off 2.9% from last Friday's close. That was its worst week since Sept. 23.
Down 3.8% on the week, the S&P 500 Index (SPX) ended down 0.5 point, or 0.04%, at 1,215.65 Friday, with utilities and financial companies faring best and technology and energy the weakest performers among its 10 industry groups. It was also the S&P 500's worst week since Sept. 23.
The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) fell 15.49 points, or 0.6%, to 2,572.50, a level that has it down nearly 4% from last Friday's close. Read Mark Hulbert's column on why investors should not fret about the Nasdaq.
Also please watch MarketWatch Week Ahead videos
Asia Week Ahead: Japan Trade Figures
Europe Week Ahead: Crisis Puts Spain in Spotlight
U.S. Week Ahead: H-P, Deere Earnings
Greg Morcroft, assistant managing editor
Warren Buffett prompted investors to do a double take when the latest portfolio report for Berkshire Hathaway Inc. was released. Among the holdings was a hefty stake in technology giant International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) , a bellwether in a volatile sector the famed investor has steadfastly avoided. But upon closer inspection, Berkshire's (BRK.A) (BRK.B) almost $11 billion investment in IBM (NYSE:IBM) isn't such a departure for the Oracle of Omaha. What is different about Buffett's latest portfolio filing is how it reflects important changes that are reshaping Berkshire, its management — and Buffett's legacy. Read MarketWatch coverage of Buffett's IBM buy
Electronic gadgets are huge holiday sellers but it's hard to find really cool stuff for $100 or less. Most of the popular items such as iPads and laptops cost considerably more. With a half-nod toward thriftiness in these tough economic times, here are some gifts to consider that won't cost more than a C-note. See MarketWatch Holiday Gift-Giving Guide
The Supreme Court said Monday it would hear challenges to President Barack Obama's landmark health-care law, setting the stage for a possible ruling on his signature accomplishment in the thick of election season. At issue will be whether the 2010 law's mandate for individuals to have insurance or pay a fine is constitutional, as well as whether that mandate can be separated from the rest of the contentious health-care legislation. Read MarketWatch coverage of health reform arguments
The euro crisis is exerting a powerful drag on the U.S. economy, sowing fear and uncertainty in an environment that already has plenty of both. Nonetheless, one top forecaster expects the American economy to continue to muddle along. "Two very powerful and conflicting forces are acting on the economy," said Richard DeKaser, deputy chief economist for consultant firm Parthenon Group and the winner of the October Forecaster of the Month award from MarketWatch. The European sovereign-debt crisis is creating extraordinary uncertainty, but continuing deleveraging is a more powerful force pushing the economy forward, he said. Simply put, the U.S. economy is slowly recovering from the excesses of the bubble years. A substantial amount of debt has been paid down or written off. Wealth is slowly being rebuilt, even though home prices may now be too low. The headwinds are diminishing. Read MarketWatch full coverage of economic outlook
Rare earths, as the name implies, make up a tiny market with huge growth potential. It's also a market with little transparency, fraught with the kind of volatility that keeps investors wondering whether they can withstand the risks to reap the rewards.Rare earths are minerals whose special properties make them ideal components in a wide variety of high-tech products, from hybrid cars to smartphones. They also have many key defense applications.Prices of these metals began to soar last year when China, which controls 95% of the world's rare-earth output, said it would cut its exports by 40% — prompting speculation that the restricted supply would drive prices up. The bubble burst a year later as strategic metals prices tumbled, hurt by fears of cooling global demand. Read MarketWatch Market Extra on rare earth investment plays
Recently "60 Minutes" featured an interview with Peter Schweizer of the Hoover Institution, who discussed corruption in Washington, D.C.Namely, insider trading by the congressmen and senators who wrote the laws prohibiting the practice in the first place."This is a venture opportunity," Schweitzer told CBS's Steve Kroft. "This is an opportunity to leverage your position in public service and use that position to enrich yourself, your friends, and your family." Watch the "60 Minutes" segment.Schweizer's latest book, "Throw Them All Out," will highlight suspicious stock trades by House Speaker John Boehner, Rep.Spencer Bachus, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and other powerful names, including former House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Sen. Judd Gregg. Read about insider trading in the Congress, on MarketWatch
As the euro struggles from crisis to crisis, it isn't hard to identify the losers. In reality, the only big winner from the euro crisis will be gold.Here's why.As this saga unfolds, there are only two possible endgames. One is for the European Central Bank, under its new President Mario Draghi, to rip up the rule book and start buying euro-zone bonds on a massive scale. The other is for the currency to break up in a chaotic and disorderly way. Read MarketWatch commentary on gold and the euro
When the holiday shopping frenzy of 2011 kicks off later this month, it could be the year of the mobile shopper. A record number of consumers will shop from their mobile devices this coming season, according to a forecast from IBM Coremetrics, which studies online data from 500 leading U.S. retailers. And retailers seeking to tap into that trend will be forced to adapt. "It's going to play a big part of how consumers are buying this holiday," said John Squire, chief strategy officer of IBM Coremetrics, in an interview. "Mobile users have less patience. They are surgical shoppers. Retailers are going to have to do a really good job in targeting their messages and promotions for mobile users." Read full story about the year of shopping on th phone, on MarketWatch
When a U.S. president is politically vulnerable, a columnist in Canada's largest daily wrote this week, "Canadian concerns and Canadian prime ministers can be reduced to bugs on a windshield." Ouch.Tim Harper (no relation to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.) poured more salt in Canada's wounds in his blunt-spoken Toronto Star piece, one that probably made more than a few Canadians wince:"There are no votes in a U.S. election year for playing nice with Ottawa. Canada poses no threat, it tops no one's to-do list in Washington, it cannot shout loud enough to be heard above the campaign din." No one ever said U.S. politics wasn't ugly. Read MarketWatch commentary on pipeline politics
Fraudsters find a way to scam lenders and homeowners out of money no matter how the housing market is faring, but in recent years they've shifted their tactics to profit from the market's downturn.Today, there's less identity fraud and misrepresentation of income or employment to obtain a mortgage, mainly because stricter validation criteria when a borrower applies for a loan makes that strategy much less successful, said David Johnson, vice president of fraud and consortium solutions for CoreLogic, a provider of financial, property and consumer information. But other types of fraud are replacing those scams. Some schemes target distressed homeowners who are looking for a way to save their home from foreclosure. Another tactic: Profiting off of short sales at the expense of the lender. Read Amy Hoak's Home Economics column, on MarketWatch