After a record-breaking week on the market, everyone should be ready for some interesting weeks ahead. But for those who missed out, here are some of the highlights of the past week:
The top of the mountain
What happened? The Dow Jones Industrials average cleared historic closing highs on Thursday, briefly touching 11,728. This comes in with news that several other major indices are trading at levels not seen in many years, like the S&P 500 which was over a five-and-a-half-year high.
What does this mean? This type of talk is bound to attract sellers to the market. Many investors who adhere to a "reversion to the mean" type philosophy might want to lock in at these prices and sell, sell, sell. Is this an accurate portrayal of things to come in the market? I suspect, yes. With growth numbers down and looming concerns that Bernanke might not be totally finished with interest rate increases, the market just might be headed back down to non-record-breaking levels.
Kerkorian continues to meddle in the auto world
What happened? Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian and his Tracinda corporation have announced intentions to further develop their position in General Motors
What does this mean? Kerkorian has made it clear that he would support a potential partnership with Renault and Nissan. This comes in an environment when Ford
White-collar crime hits the Big House
What happened? Bernard Ebbers, former CEO of defunct telecom giant WorldCom, entered prison this week in Louisiana. The beleaguered executive was sentenced to a 25-year jail term and will not be released until 2028 at the earliest.
What does this mean? For the 20,000 people who lost their jobs and the people whose pensions and investments disappeared into thin air, this is justice. Although the financial collapse of the company may not have been the complete responsibility of Ebbers, his attempt to cook the books and misrepresent the truth most certainly resulted in an $11 billion accounting fraud scandal. Thus, he created the biggest corporate bankruptcy in history, which resulted in the loss of $180 billion in investor money. Those charged with enforcement of white-collar crime have made it clear that this type of shrewd accounting will not be tolerated and that the punishment will fit the crime.
Nothing little about this chicken
What happened? The country's second-largest chicken manufacturer, Pilgrim's Pride
What does this mean? I'll admit it, there's nothing sexy about chicken companies. They're not nearly as interesting as high-tech laser manufacturers, for example. But the price of this highly consumed product has taken a beating recently, leading the poor recent quarterly performance for both companies, and might create an interesting value play in the near future. More importantly, tensions over avian flu may be around for quite a while and have recently largely led to discounts in companies that utilize chicken meat as a material or final product. But should no major pandemic result in the near future, companies like Pilgrim's Pride should be right back on track.
American growth continues downward slide
What happened? After a hot first quarter of 5.6% growth, the U.S. economy grew at a revised 2.6% in the second quarter of 2006, according to the Commerce Department.
What does this mean? This isn't a real surprise, given the housing market slowdown and other market ills. Furthermore, it's possible that these figures may not even be relevant anymore, considering the faster-than-expected housing growth experienced in August and the surging performance of the stock market. However, a substantially worrisome aspect of the recent report highlighted that inflation increases may not be over with yet. This sentiment stems from data showing that personal spending for items outside of food and energy rose 2.7%, a full 29% higher than last quarter and the highest level since 2001, indicating a possible warning sign for investors everywhere.
Warnings over Wall Street
What happened? After a promising quarter for the likes of Goldman Sachs
What does this mean? Traditional Wall Street players are having the floor pulled out from underneath them by discount brokers like Ameritrade
Microsoft fights back against the 'Pod
What happened? Microsoft
What does this mean? It seems like a true David and Goliath situation for Microsoft, who has to battle against the highly recognizable brand name of the iPod. But is it really? Back in 2004, the iPod controlled a dominant 84% of the market share that was to be had for these types of devices. Since then, the personal music industry has changed dramatically. Let's not forget that, in today's world, cellular phones now play MP3s with little difficulty and relatively little expense. With that in mind, the iPod controls more like 14% of this segment, with the rest going to these types of phones. While this might seem good for Microsoft, overall it isn't. I'd put my money on the guys who are trying to multitask functions like Motorola
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