If you're feeling good about the market, you're not alone. Take my hand as we go over some of this week's more uplifting headlines.
1. GM takes the wheel
The acquisition of H.J. Heinz opened up a vacancy in the S&P 500, and General Motors (NYSE:GM) is pulling in for the keys.
The country's leading automaker was booted from the widely tracked index four years ago at the height of the government-funded bailout and GM's own bankruptcy reorganization.
The four-year lull was well-earned, but now that a streamlined GM is growing and squarely profitable it's a no-brainer to welcome the bellwether back to the S&P 500.
2. Amazon wants to direct
Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) continues to line up programming that viewers won't find on its larger rival's platform.
A week after revealing five pilots that it will be green-lighting for full seasons, the leading online retailer has landed an even more magnetic content deal with Viacom. Amazon now has a multiyear deal in place with Viacom's Nick Jr., Nick, MTV, and Comedy Central, covering 3,900 episodes across 250 seasons.
This was the same content that Amazon saw the leading video streaming service fail to renew a few weeks ago, making Amazon the exclusive home of Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob Square Pants, and several other kid-friendly and not-so-kid-friendly shows.
If free two-day shipping wasn't enough of a reason to pay $79 for Amazon Prime, the growing digital catalog of video that can be streamed at no additional cost is getting too tempting to ignore.
3. Chipotle heads east
Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG) isn't waiting until its namesake concept has run its expansion course before betting on a new horse.
Chipotle opened the first ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen two years ago in Washington, D.C., and it has three more locations set to open in the coming weeks.
Why stop at just four? Chipotle announced this week that it inked new leases for four more ShopHouse locations. The fast-casual eateries apply Chipotle's proven assembly line approach to savory Asian cuisine. The original location is apparently working if Chipotle will have an eightfold expansion in the concept between now and next year when the four leased locations open.
It's still a small cry to the nearly 1,500 namesake burrito joints, but ShopHouse doesn't have to move the needle just yet. It should be ready to be a vocal contributor when Chipotle has maxed out its flagship concept.
4. An Apple trade-in a day
Bloomberg is reporting that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is getting into the trade-in business.
Sources are saying that the consumer tech giant will allow buyers to swap out their old iPhones for credit on new devices. A third party will be administering the program, but it's still a win-win for Apple.
For starters, it makes new iPhones cheaper for potential buyers as they receive credit that can be applied to new purchases. The move -- assuming Apple keeps the trade ins -- will allow Apple to arm itself with cheaper devices that it can market in other countries where wireless carriers aren't subsidizing handsets. New Apple devices are outlandishly expensive in those markets, so this can only help.
There are plenty of growing businesses that already offer trade-in programs. Apple getting into the game to make direct connections should help increase demand and possibly get iPhone owners to upgrade more often.
The move may seem insensitive at a time when the economy's just taking baby steps in the right direction, but the family entertainment giant is entitled to the increase. Several of its neighboring theme park operators pushed through rate increases recently.
There's a fair share of outrage at the one-day ticket prices. In Florida, it will be $95 for Magic Kingdom and $90 for a day at Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Disney's Hollywood Studios. It is a big price, but all four parks were at $89 a year earlier and the parks still came through with record attendance.
This is the first time Disney is charging different prices for its theme parks, and this move was long overdue. It never made sense for what many consider a half-day park in Animal Kingdom to charge as much as the full-featured Magic Kingdom.