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Nov 18, 2011

MarketWatch | Weekly Roundup: Top Ten Stories Nov. 14 - 18


Weekly Roundup
NOVEMBER 18, 2011

MarketWatch top 10 stories Nov. 14 -18

By MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — U.S. blue-chip stocks rose Friday as a gauge of leading indicators climbed, boosting views of the U.S. economy. But the major indexes lost about 3% for the week, their worst performance in nearly two months.

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

What Buffett's IBM buy says about his next move

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

10 cool holiday tech gifts for under $100

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

Supreme Court to hear health-law challenges

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

U.S. economy to muddle along, top forecaster says

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 offer a bumpy road to riches

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

Congressional insider trading: The story sticks

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

Gold is the only winner from the euro crisis

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

Holidays may herald the year of the mobile shopper

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

U.S. politics trumped pipeline and Canada concerns

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

Crooks find new ways to prey on home woes

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

NYT Global Update: Clinton to Visit Myanmar as Activist Rejoins Politics

Global Update


Clinton to Visit Myanmar as Activist Rejoins Politics

The planned visit, the first by an American secretary of state in more than 50 years, and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's return to politics speak to sudden, stunning change in Myanmar.
News Analysis

For a Changing Myanmar, the Real Challenges Lie Ahead

While the speed of Myanmar's transition from dictatorship to quasi democracy has been stunning, experts say reforming the economy may be far more difficult.

France and Turkey Call for More Pressure on Syria

The two countries called for greater international effort to exert pressure on Syria to stop its bloody crackdown on protesters, as at least 15 more people were reported killed on Friday.

Video: TimesCast

Steps toward liberalization in Myanmar lead to a planned United States visit; Islamists protest Egypt's military; and this week in the U.S. presidential race.

Op-Ed Contributor

The Devil We Knew

The Assad regime used to be tolerated by most actors in the Middle East as the lesser of many evils. No more.

Egyptian Islamists Rally to Protest Military Rule

Cairo's central square is filled with demonstrators, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, decrying efforts by the post-Mubarak military government to retain authority.

European Rift on Bank's Role in Debt Relief

The financial stability of Europe has come down to one institution, the European Central Bank, which is under heavy pressure to rescue the euro.

Monti Wins Broad Support in Parliament

Mario Monti, the new prime minister of Italy, called on lawmakers to work with him during hard times.

Stocks End Mixed as Investors Weigh Next Move in Europe

Trading was relatively flat at the end of another turbulent week.

Hungary Turns to I.M.F. for 'Insurance'

Appeal for "insurance contract" follows period in which government proudly resisted asking fund for help.

Avastin Loses Approval From F.D.A. to Treat Breast Cancer

The agency said the drug "has not been shown to be safe and effective" for breast cancer patients, but would remain available to treat other types of cancer.
Bits Blog

Crushing the Cost of Predicting the Future

A company called Recorded Future, which looks at 100,000 Web pages an hour and scans across 50,000 sources in search of trends, is offering a version of its product for $149 a month.

Manager Who Claimed to Own Facebook Shares Charged With Fraud

John A. Mattera, 50, a Florida-based investment manager, was arrested Thursday on charges of running an $11 million, two-year fraud that falsely promised investors access to coveted shares of Groupon, Facebook and other private companies.

Andy Murray's Quest for the Missing Major

He has a good chance at victory in London this week, but the Scot remains the odd man out among the 'Big Four,' the only one among them not to have won a Grand Slam title.

First Time in World Finals Is the Charm for U.S. Underdog

Hard work, mentally and physically, paid off this season as Mardy Fish, at 29, surged from the shadows into the top eight and a slot in the ATP World Tour Finals in London.

Off Court, Engaging in the Future of Tennis

It will be a potentially pivotal tournament for the world's best players in London, off court as well as on, as they address the future of the men's circuit and the identity of its next chief executive.

Mormons' Ad Campaign May Play Out on the '12 Campaign Trail

The multimillion dollar campaign features the personal stories of members who defy stereotyping.

A Day of Protests as Occupy Movement Marks Two-Month Milestone

Demonstrations took place from New York to Los Angeles as the protesters in the Occupy movement clogged streets and took aim at banks as part of a national "day of action."

200 Are Arrested as Protesters Clash With the Police

More than 200 Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested throughout Manhattan on Thursday, many after rough confrontations with the police.
Op-Ed Contributor

Berlusconi Will Be Back

Italy's self-proclaimed "best prime minister ever" will keep his hand in the game.
Op-Ed Contributor

Do Not Attack Syria

Syria is not Libya, and a military intervention could be disastrous.
Op-Ed Columnist

The Technocratic Nightmare

The European Union is an attempt to build an economic and legal superstructure without a linguistic, cultural, historic and civic base. No wonder it's in crisis.

Financial and Forex Info News | Kitco New York Market Close Report

New York Market Close Nov 18/11 05:20 PM EST

Reuters - Daily Investor Update: Wall St. closes worst week in 2 months


Wall St. closes worst week in 2 months
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The worst week for U.S. stocks in two months ended with investors mostly on the sidelines on Friday as they wait for politicians in Europe and the United States to tackle festering debt problems. | Full Article

Brussels seeks tight budget control, ECB impatient
November 18, 2011 04:20 PM ET
BRUSSELS/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The European Commission is seeking far tighter control of national budgets to combat the euro zone's debt crisis, a senior official said on Friday, as the ECB's chief urged rapid action on a euro zone fund for rescuing countries in trouble. | Full Article

DealBook | Dealb%K Afternoon Edition: Goldman Names Managing Directors

Goldman Names Managing Directors
Goldman Names Managing Directors The crop of 261 executives is the smallest at Goldman in years, reflecting a recent cost-cutting push by the firm.
    NYSE and Deutsche Borse Offer Deal Concessions
    NYSE and Deutsche Borse Offer Deal Concessions Deutsche Borse and NYSE Euronext announced plans to divest businesses in Europe and open up certain operations to rivals in an effort to win regulatory approval for their proposed $9 billion merger.
    Gym, Tan, Raise Venture Capital? If it works for the cast of MTV's Jersey Shore, can the faux-glow of a spray tan also bolster the image of a newly minted tech founder?
    Hedge Fund Manager Is Sentenced to 5 Years Joseph Skowron had pleaded guilty to avoiding $30 million in trading losses for his Morgan Stanley-owned hedge fund, FrontPoint Partners, by bribing a French doctor to leak him confidential results about clinical drug trials.
    A New Wall Street Photo Meme: Bankers Carrying Boxes Inspired by the photos that have been accompanying coverage of MF Global's collapse, DealBook is taking note of a new Wall Street photo meme: Bankers Carrying Boxes.
    SABMiller Raises Foster's Bid on Tax Ruling Brewing giant SABMiller said that it would raise its cash offer for Foster's to compensate for a tax ruling by Australian authorities.
    Occupy London Protestors Take Over Empty UBS Building Campaigners from the Occupy London Stock Exchange movement announced Friday they had 'repossessed' a building in East London owned by the Swiss bank UBS. Activists gained access to the building late on Thursday, and said the action gave them a legal right to the building.
    Economic Reports Data released on Monday will include existing home sales for October.
    Corporate Earnings Companies reporting results on Monday will include Hewlett-Packard and Tyson Foods.
    In Asia On Monday, Japan releases trade statistics for October.


NYT Afternoon Business News: Outdoor Gear Retailer Opens a Base Camp in Manhattan


Outdoor Gear Retailer Opens a Base Camp in Manhattan

REI, an outdoor-equipment retailer, is preparing to open its first store in New York by providing employees training in the wilds of Manhattan.

Deal Assures Market for Anemia Drug

A dialysis chain has agreed to major purchases of the Amgen drug Epogen through 2018, helping the manufacturer to protect a lucrative business facing new competition.

Hungary Turns to I.M.F. for 'Insurance'

Appeal for "insurance contract" follows period in which government proudly resisted asking fund for help.

Bank Chief Rejects Calls to Rescue Euro Zone

In his first speech as head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi said European leaders were to blame for moving too slowly to address the sovereign debt crisis.

Stocks End Mixed as Investors Weigh Next Move in Europe

Trading was relatively flat at the end of another turbulent week.

CBS News | Political Hotsheet Top Stories: Supercommittee Dems rebuff GOP contingency plan

The CBS News Political Hotsheet newsletter


Supercommittee Republicans have a plan to cut $643B from the deficit, but Democrats call it "laughable and disappointing"
Read full story
Supercommittee Dems rebuff GOP contingency plan

Balanced budget amendment fails in the House GOP-backed measure fails to get two-thirds support necessary to pass

Obama uses autopen, again, to sign bill into law For the second time this year, President Obama authorizes use of mechanical device to sign a bill into law

Clinton: Pressure on Syria is a "Assad's going to be gone, it's just a question of time," Secretary of State tells CBS News' Norah O'Donnell

Gingrich to skip N.H. during trip to Harvard GOP candidate will attend movie screening in Boston on Friday, but not stop in first primary state

MarketWatch | Personal Finance Daily: HARP 2.0 rules and who will benefit


Personal Finance Daily
NOVEMBER 18, 2011

HARP 2.0 rules and who will benefit

By MarketWatch

Don't miss these top stories:

The latest version of the government's Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP 2.0 as it's being called, is intended to help borrowers who are deep underwater and, therefore, unable to refinance to take advantage of the current extremely low mortgage rates because they have no equity in their properties. A magnanimous goal, to be sure, writes Lew Sichelman in today's Realty Q&A column. But, he says, the program comes with rules — and many of them. Read his explanation of who's eligible, what the benefits and restrictions are.

And in his investing column today, Mark Hulbert analyzes the Nasdaq Composite's relative weakness and what it means. Should investors be worried? Not necessarily, he says. Nasdaq relative strength used to be a decent leading indicator. But not over the past two decades.

Finally, there's an irony here somewhere, but we'll leave you to find it. Read Al Lewis's column on the mob museum in Las Vegas. Lewis writes: It's probably not a good idea to build a museum that venerates murderers, liars, thieves and extortionists.

The museum, at the Tropicana, is bankrupt.

Anne Stanley , Managing Editor, Personal Finance

HARP 2.0 rules, and who will benefit

Final rules were released this week on the government's updated refinance program for underwater borrowers, and Lew Sichelman explains what they mean.
Read more: HARP 2.0 rules, and who will benefit.

What Nasdaq weakness is telling us

How worried should you be about the Nasdaq Composite's relative weakness? On the theory that the Nasdaq is a leading indicator of the broad market, the data paint a worrisome picture, but Mark Hulbert is not so sure.
Read more: What Nasdaq weakness is telling us.

How Europe's debt crisis hits your wallet

The European debt crisis can hit consumer's pocketbooks three ways: market volatility, bank safety and stability and by denting U.S. trade and jobs.
Read more: How Europe's debt crisis hits your wallet.

Mob museum is quite a racket

It's probably not a good idea to build a museum that venerates murderers, liars, thieves and extortionists, but Las Vegas sports a Mob museum.
Read more: Mob museum is quite a racket.


Recession risks recede: Conference Board

Data suggest that the risk of a U.S. recession has receded, the Conference Board says as its index of leading economic indicators grew 0.9% in October — the largest growth since February — led by gains in building permits.
Read more: Recession risks recede: Conference Board.

Regulations don't kill jobs, they create them

Contrary to what Republican politicians say about "job-killing regulations," government rules actually are pretty good for the economy.
Read more: Regulations don't kill jobs, they create them.

How to steal like Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street isn't going to change a thing. It's a lucky the protesters don't know the secret weapon that really terrifies the bankers.
Read more: How to steal like Wall Street.


What Buffett's IBM buy says about his next move

Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway surprised the markets this week by taking a large stake in IBM. MarketWatch peels back his strategy to see what other stocks the Oracle of Omaha might consider.
Read more: What's Buffett's IBM buy says about his next move.

Last days of the superstar mutual-fund manager

The end of an era is frequently bittersweet, and certainly that's the case with Bill Miller, the philosopher-turned-investor who, for almost three decades, has run the flagship Legg Mason Value Trust fund.
Read more: Last days of the superstar mutual-fund manager.

Invest in women

Investing in women in emerging markets is a good bet for a number of reasons.
Read more: Invest in women.