Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Market Wrap: Lackluster With Some Light

The stock market drew to its 2011 conclusion Friday,with the major averages down just over a half percent for the week.For the year,the bellwether S&P 500 Index was virtually flat,down a meaningless 0.003.You made no money on the broad market this year,but you didn't really lose any,either.
There were individual winners and losers,however.McDonald's was the biggest winner among the Dow 30,rising 31% on the year.The biggest loser in the Dow was Bank of America,losing more than half its value at -55%.Top-rated financials in the analysts' estimates are JP Morgan Chase,Prudential Financial and Wells Fargo.
The winning sectors for 2011 were utilities and consumer staples-clearly defensive areas.The biggest losers were the financials and materials-sectors dependent on a robust economy.The CBOE VIX volatility index was up a sharp 31.83% on the year,and trading volume was pretty uniformly thin.
The new year may well hold more of the same in store,with concern over European and American deficits,and the U.S. presidential election,dominating a headline-driven market.The S&P futures slipped modestly Friday evening,down 4.80%,and bond index futures gained.
McDonald's(MCD),Bank of America(BAC),JP Morgan Chase(JPM),Prudential Financial(PRU),Wells Fargo(WFC)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Special Edition:Bethlehem To Have Successful Season

The Palestinian Authority is predicting a successful Christmas-New Year season for the town so revered by Christians as the site of Jesus' birth.Minister of Tourism Khulud Deibes said she is looking for more than 100,000 tourists during the period,with some 50,000 from December 24-25.
Ms.Deibes participated in a kickoff event with Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh,a children's march through the town to Nativity Square.More than 1,000 children marched along with camels,costumed characters and clergy in the colourful event.Some of the children wore their scout uniforms.
Mayor Batarseh has commented that the wall surrounding Bethlehem has a negative impact on every aspect of daily life in the sacred town,which has one of the highest densities of population in the Palestinian Authority.Even with that,we insist on celebrating Christmas-both Christians and Muslims.We ask for a right to self-determination and our own Palestinian State.
We are staying put on this land.The pilgrims are actually breaking down the walls of separation.That is why we insist on doing Christmas better each year.This is defying this wall,Mayor Batarseh declared.
This year,a very special concert is being held at the Bethlehem Convention Palace on Christmas Day:Christmas in Bethlehem,A Concert for Humanity at the Bethlehem Convention Palace from 7-9 PM(12-2 PM Eastern).
The concert may be viewed free of charge on Facebook.Visit "Project-Peace on Earth" from 12-2 PM Eastern U.S. time.Featured artists in the mystical songs of peace and healing include Grammy winners Joanne Shenandoah and Gary Nicholson,The Magnetic Zeros,Hani Naser,Enigma, and Zarah,the much-admired host of the teen music program B InTune TV,which reaches 200 million homes worldwide.Zarah will perform in the Global Musical Prayer for Peace and original songs from her upcoming album.
Update:The Christmas in Bethlehem concert was a complete success,concluding with some songs composed by the late John Lennon:"Imagine" and "Give Peace a Chance,"performed by all the musicians together and with the audience singing along.It benefited the UNWRA,a UN agency that helps Palestinian refugees in Jordan,Gaza,the West Bank,Syria and Lebanon.For more information and to contribute,visit

Friday, December 16, 2011

Market Restrained By Europe;Sam Houston State Advances

A positive Philly Fed manufacturing report wasn't enough to bolster the market this week.The S&P fell 2.80 on the week as the Fitch ratings agency reaffirmed its doubts about both European and U.S. banks and put several small countries on credit watch negative.Trading is still distressingly thin as a mood of caution sweeps the market towards the end of the year-if not the end of the world.
Nonetheless,a highly entertaining college football game took minds off this Friday night in Huntsville,Texas,where the Sam Houston State Bearkats edged the Montana Grizzlies 31-28 in a semifinal of the NCAA Division I Championship.The Grizzlies had come back from a 21-0 deficit,but the Bearkats' outstanding running back Tim Flanders ensured their victory with his 287 yards of rushing.The final will be held at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco,Texas on January 7,when the Bearkats will play either Georgia Southern or North Dakota State.
American teen Lexi Thompson,who is all of sweet 16,holds a one stroke lead at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters,the final event of the year on the Ladies European Tour.She is angling for her first career win on the Tour,having earned her first career win on the LPGA Tour three months ago.Sweden's veteran golfer Sophie Gustafson,38,a 14-time
European Tour tournament winner,is second on the leader board.
The S&P futures declined slightly Friday evening,losing a further 0.80,while bond index futures were on the upswing.
Update:The poised and well-spoken Lexi Thompson went on to win the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters with a final round five under par 67.She became the youngest player ever to win a Ladies European Tour tournament,matching the same distinction she had achieved in the LPGA earlier in the year.South Africa's Lee Anne Pace came in second at Dubai,while Sophie Gustafson finished third in this final event of the season.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Euro-zone Leaders Agree;Montana Grizzlies Win

Leaders of 17 European nations which use the Euro as their currency have agreed to a series of measures designed to prevent the current debt crisis from occurring again;the U.K. rejected the pact,and several other European countries are studying it further.This contented the stock market for now,sending the major averages up on the week.The Dow gained 1.37%,while the S&P rose 0.88 and the NASDAQ added 0.76.The S&P remains slightly down on the year at -0.19.
In college football,the Montana Grizzlies drew on boisterous hometown support at Washington Grizzly Stadium in Missoula to take a quarterfinal game in the NCAA Division I Championship series,crushing the Northern Iowa Panthers 48-10.Student fans cheered on concrete during the game,having destroyed the seats in their enthusiasm.The Grizzlies will play the winner of the Montana State and Sam Houston State quarterfinal match-up for the title.Fireworks were launched in celebration and a gigantic M was lit up on the mountain behind the stadium at elevation 700 feet.It was 23 degrees F at game time,but the Grizzlies went bare-armed anyway.
In golf,Spaniard Alvaro Quiros leads the Dubai World Championship through two rounds at the Earth Course of the Jumeirah Golf Estates in the United Arab Emirates with a twelve under par 64.Luke Donald of England,the current world number one,is in contention to capture the overall European Tour title at the tournament.
Next week,Wall Street will continue to monitor European developments,as well as an OPEC oil cartel meeting in Vienna on Wednesday.FedEx and General Mills will report their earnings.The S&P futures were up a strong 22.80 on Friday evening,while bond index futures declined.
FedEx(FDX),General Mills(GIS)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Santa Anas Blast SoCal;McIlroy and Quiros Lead

The San Gabriel Valley was rocked by hurricane force Santa Ana winds this week in a rare event the likes of which are seen only once in 5-10 years.The tremendous gusts decimated the urban forests of Southern California as communities lost hundreds of treasured trees,losing power and even water in the process.Pasadena was particularly hard hit,with some 450 street trees being toppled by the winds.Homes were damaged in these lands along the San Gabriel Mountains,where gusts of up to 80 mph were recorded.
The fire risk was described as explosive by a weather service official.The Santa Anas are known for the catastrophic wildland fires they often contribute to in the region.
Rumors of European progress and positive manufacturing and employment trends protected the market this week.All major averages posted gains north of 7%.For the week,the S&P 500 rose 7.39.On the year,the S&P is still down 1.06,however.
The Race To Dubai,The European Tour,made its next to last stop at the Hong Kong Golf Club.After two rounds of the UBS Hong Kong Open,Alvaro Quiros of Spain and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy topped the leader board.Luke Donald of England led the series going into this weekend,followed by German Martin Kaymer and McIlroy in second and third place,respectively.
Next week will be back-loaded by an important Friday summit in Brussels on changes to the EU treaty for fiscal discipline.Other influential events will include the Institute for Supply Management's service sector report on Monday and a consumer sentiment reading also on Friday.The S&P futures were basically flat at -0.10 Friday evening,while bond index futures rose.