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Real-Time Advice
Our real-time advice on how market shifts and news impact you and your money
  • Sep 13, 2012
    5:45 PM ET

    Do ‘Good’ Boardrooms Boost Returns?

    Corporate governance advocates have long tried to persuade investors they can have it both ways: Do good, and you end up doing well too. New research suggests that advice may not hold true.

    Some of corporate reformers’ pet moves, like allowing shareholders to vote on directors each year and avoiding special provisions to thwart takeovers, can boost the value of a company, a new Harvard University study finds. But there’s a big catch: The market may have already factored any benefits tied to these moves into the stock price. While at one time knowing whether a company had good governance might have been valuable information for investors, ever since a wave of public attention brought these issues to the fore in the 1990s, it hasn’t been effective as a guide for picking stocks. “Just because something is a good governance provision doesn’t mean it’s a good investment,” says co-author Lucian Bebchuk.

  • Sep 12, 2012
    2:31 PM ET

    iPhone 5 vs 4s: Which Is the Better Buy?

    The new iPhone 5 was the star of Apple’s announcement on Wednesday, but the now-outdated 4S may still be the better deal.

    Apple’s iPhone 5, available for preorder Sept. 14 and on sale Sept. 21, has a starting price of $199 for a 16GB model and a two-year contract via AT&T, Sprint or Verizon. As part of the launch, Apple dropped the price of the older iPhone 4S to $99 for a 16GB model and a new two-year contract with a carrier. (Retailers including Best Buy, Target and Radio Shack slashed as much as $75 off the then-$199 starting price on the 4S in August, and Sprint knocked it down to $50 online after a $100 mail-in rebate.) The iPhone 4 will be free with a two-year contract.

  • Sep 12, 2012
    9:31 AM ET

    Upgrade to New iPhone for Free — Really

    If you’re in the market for an iPhone 5, experts say it’s best to lock in a trade-in price for your iPhone before today’s announcement.

    Three out of four current iPhone 4 owners plan to buy the iPhone, according to a survey from deal site TechBargains.com. That’s a lot of old iPhones coming into the market. As we’ve previously reported, that kind of glut has made trade-in prices fall as much as 25% during previous releases.

  • Sep 11, 2012
    7:02 PM ET

    Investing in ‘Junk DNA’

    Now that scientists have revealed that the huge swaths of genetic code once dismissed as “junk DNA” are not so worthless, investors may wonder if there’s similar hidden value in the biotech sector. The short answer: maybe.

    Though analysts say it’s too soon to tell what impact the discovery will have on stocks, the recent breakthrough may eventually lead to new techniques for the early detection of diseases and to the development of new drugs. And that could be a boon to firms at the forefront of biotechnology and molecular diagnostics.

  • Sep 10, 2012
    6:38 PM ET

    Hidden Good News on Credit Cards

    In a sign that consumers are getting back on their feet, new data released today shows that credit-card debts are shrinking. Dig deeper into the fine print and there’s better news: Fewer credit-card bills are going unpaid.

    Revolving debt, which mostly includes credit cards, hit $850.7 billion in July, down slightly from the prior month and falling at a 6.8% annual rate, according to new, seasonally adjusted data released by the Federal Reserve this afternoon. Total outstanding credit-card debt continues to drop from its peak of more than $1 trillion in 2008.

  • Sep 10, 2012
    1:43 PM ET

    BlackRock to Lower ETF Prices

    BlackRock’s chief executive, Laurence Fink, may be ready to cry uncle. The company’s iShares unit plans to cut prices on some offerings in its popular line of exchange-traded funds, Reuters reported Monday.

    The move, which SmartMoney predicted in July, comes after years in which Vanguard Group’s relentless focus on low fees chipped away at iShares’ once seemingly insurmountable lead in the ETF business. iShares’ U.S. market share, which peaked at about 60% five years ago, has slipped to about 40% today.

  • Sep 7, 2012
    4:23 PM ET

    Is This Gold Rally for Real?

    Gold rallied sharply on Friday morning, approaching $1,750 an ounce, on the heels of a disappointing employment report and new bond-buying program in Europe. But how long before the yellow metal goes dull again?

    Overall, gold futures are up more than 3% for the week and 13% since their lows in May, as upbeat news in Europe and disappointing job news in the U.S. have combined to stoke inflation fears. The Labor Department Friday morning reported that the U.S. added a fewer-than-expected 96,000 jobs in August — news experts say that may spur the Federal Reserve to launching another stimulus program, including further bond buying, when it meets next week. Friday’s surge continued a rise that started Thursday after the European Central Bank announced an unlimited bond-buying program to bail out some of the region’s most troubled governments.

  • Sep 7, 2012
    1:29 PM ET

    What the Jobs Numbers Mean for Real Estate

    The most recent job numbers may be disappointing in more ways than one: Payroll numbers will need to more than double their current growth rate before a full housing recovery can occur, economists say.

    Recent weeks have seen some upbeat news about the housing market. According to data released this week by CoreLogic, for example, home prices increased 3.8% in July compared with a year prior — the biggest year-over-year increase since August 2006.

  • Sep 6, 2012
    12:22 PM ET

    Is a Hiring Boom on the Way?

    Since the recession, companies avoided hiring new employees by pushing existing staff to work longer and harder. But experts say employers may have squeezed everything they can out of their workforce — and now have no choice but to start hiring.

    Early Thursday, the markets were already anticipating good news on the hiring front: The Dow rose more than 200 points Thursday morning after Automatic Data Processing reported that private businesses added 201,000 jobs in August.

  • Sep 5, 2012
    4:58 PM ET

    Instant Price Changes on Aisle 4

    Shoppers can be reasonably confident that the price of a box of their favorite cereal will not budge in the time it takes to push a cart down a supermarket aisle. But that may change as stores begin to experiment with the kind of minute-by-minute price adjustments made online.

    More web retailers are using software that fluctuates prices throughout the day in order to draw shoppers’ attention and better manage inventory, according to The Wall Street Journal. By its count, Amazon.com changed the price of one General Electric microwave nine times in 24 hours, pricing it as high as $871.49 and as low as $744.46.

About Real-Time Advice

  • How breaking news — in the markets, Washington, and around the world — affects you and your money. Have a question about how current events may change your financial future? Email us at ask@smartmoney.com.