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  • Nov 17, 2011
    10:30 AM ET

    For Angie’s List and Yelp, IPOs May Bring Conflict

    Online review sites like Angie’s List and Yelp are built on the idea that for shoppers, customer experiences are more telling than company sales pitches. But will these populist online communities maintain that same credibility as publicly-traded corporations?

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    Users of Angie’s List, which has its initial public offering today, and Yelp, which is expected to follow in coming weeks, flock to the sites precisely because “they don’t trust what businesses have to say about themselves,” says Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist. Both sites make money by selling ads, although Angie’s List also charges a subscription for the opportunity to read and write reviews of local businesses such as plumbers and mechanics. Yelp also has reviews of restaurants, bars and other local shops.

  • Nov 11, 2011
    11:29 AM ET

    Another Bounce for Yo-Yo Market

    Investors ended the week with a nice boost to their stock portfolios today, but many financial advisers are telling clients to tune out today’s move and think longer term.

    Buoyed by a strong consumer sentiment report and easing worries over the European debt crisis, the Dow jumped more than 250 points on Friday. The move up follows three consecutive days of three-digit swings for the stock market, and financial advisers say they’re expecting more of the same heading into next week. Even as many pros have abandoned their buy and hold strategies to regularly tweak client portfolios during the past few months of volatility, others say this recent bout of swings makes it extremely difficult to time – and perhaps not worth it.  Even with today’s jump so far, they point out, the market is flat for the week.

  • Nov 9, 2011
    1:16 PM ET

    U.S. Stocks Fall on Euro News – But Not For Long?

    Bad news out of Europe was once again dragging down the shares of American companies today. But some investing experts suggest the U.S. stock market may be breaking out of its euro-crisis spell.

    Although the Dow fell nearly 400 points today — sparked by a sharp rise in Italian bond yields which left investors worried Italy may need a bailout — there have been signs the U.S. stock market is starting to “decouple,” or move independently from European markets, according to Ed Yardeni, the president and chief investment strategist of Yardeni Research. Last week, “the bad news out of Europe tended to stay in Europe more so than in the past,” Yardeni wrote in a note to investors on Monday. While the MSCI Europe index fell 4%, and indexes in Germany, France and Italy were down 6 and 7%, the S&P 500 was only down 2.5% for the week, and the MSCI Emerging Markets index was nearly flat.

  • Oct 27, 2011
    10:06 AM ET

    As Dow Crosses 12000, Pros Urge Caution

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average broke 12000 today — a level not seen since early August — and the S&P 500 moved into the black for 2011. But while reaching these mini-milestones could give investors a boost of confidence, some pros warn it may could be short-lived.

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    Buoyed by news that the economy expanded in the third quarter and that European leaders have agreed on a rescue plan for Greece, stocks rose 339 points Thursday, following a 162 point rise Wednesday. The Dow is now up 12% for the month and about 5% for the year.

    Stocks are still about 500 points below the high reached in late July, before the market turned turbulent.

    While investing pros say this rally may draw some jittery investors off the sidelines and back into the stock market, they also point out that next piece of bad economic news could send them right back. “[Reaching 12,000] is just another number,”  says Jeff Sica, president and chief investment officer of SICA Wealth Management, an independent wealth manager based in Morristown, N.J.

  • Oct 18, 2011
    9:35 AM ET

    Why China’s Slower Growth Hurts

    For American investors grappling with European debt woes and plenty of uncertainty at home, China may not rank high on the list of concerns. But investing pros say a slowdown in China’s growth could have a bigger impact on portfolios than people may realize.

    According to data released today, China’s gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 9.1% in the third quarter. While that’s still higher than most other large economies — the U.S.’s GDP gained an annualized 1.3% in the second quarter (the most recent data available), while Japan’s decreased at an annualized rate of 2.1% — it fell slightly below the 9.2% growth analysts had expected. It’s also slower than the 9.5% growth in the second quarter and 9.7% growth in the first. The bigger concern, says Todd C. Lee, an economist at HIS Global Insight, is that the slowdown could accelerate if exports to Europe and the U.S. continue to fall.

  • Oct 3, 2011
    12:30 PM ET

    As European Stocks Fall, Investors Rethink Strategies

    The recent and quick decline in European markets has left yet another group of Main Street investors worried about their exposure to the continent.

    Over the past several years, many Americans’ portfolios have gradually shifted to heavier holdings in all things Europe. But since the start of the year, European stocks have fallen 19%, according to the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index, with much of that plunge coming this summer. This morning, the index was down another 1.5%. As a result, Jeff Sica, president and chief investment officer at Sica Wealth Management, is telling clients to review their holdings and make some — though not huge — tweaks in order to avoid future losses.  “We’re in very dangerous waters right now, and this is a time to be defensive — this is not a time to bargain hunt,” says Sica.

  • Oct 3, 2011
    11:54 AM ET

    3 Ways to Handle the European Drop

    European stocks kicked off the week with yet another drop. The move followed more bad news from, you guessed it, Greece: The country indicated its budget deficit would be higher than the target it was supposed to hit to keep receiving aid from the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank, as the WSJ explains.

    For American investors, this latest drop again raises the question of how much exposure a portfolio currently has to the troubled continent — and how that exposure can be safely reduced. Here are a few first steps.

  • Sep 12, 2011
    10:45 AM ET

    How to Build a Europe-Free Portfolio

    Mounting concerns about Europe’s debt problems, including new doubts about the health of France’s largest banks, has many investors rethinking their exposure to the troubled continent.

    Over the years, American investors have increased their allocations to foreign stocks. Investors currently have roughly $1.3 trillion in international equity mutual funds, about 3.5 times the amount from a decade ago, according to Morningstar. And euro zone countries typically account for the largest percentage of those holdings, followed by Japan.

  • Sep 9, 2011
    4:33 PM ET

    Dow Falls: Investors Weigh Moves

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    The markets suffered their worst loss since the middle of August today, as investors grew increasingly skittish about the financial crisis in Europe and doubts about President Barack Obama’s plan to stem unemployment at home. The news that the U.S. received “credible” information pointing to another terrorist attack to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks didn’t help.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 303 points today, down almost 3% in the four-day week. Those are scary numbers for plenty of investors, particularly after the wild swings of early August. But some experts say the new developments create a buying opportunity. The plunge in Europe has battered a slew of European stocks, banks in particular. The better deals may be in European telecoms, which offer substantial dividends. European industrials are also cheap, and may get a boost in the coming weeks and months if the falling euro makes their exports cheaper.

  • Aug 30, 2011
    7:20 PM ET

    Cheer for Man U. Skip the IPO

    Investors will soon have a chance to bet on a repeat of Manchester United’s astonishing stock market run that ended six years ago.

    When the English soccer club first floated shares on the London Stock Exchange in 1991, it had a market value of about 47 million British pounds. Fourteen years later it was bought out by the family of Malcolm Glazer for 790 million pounds (about $1.3 billion). That’s a 17-fold increase, versus a fourfold increase during that stretch for the FTSE 250 index of midsize London-listed companies.

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