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  • Signs of Continued Economic Recovery Sparks Cautious Optimism - 13 December 2010
  • Movement in US markets last week revealed that investors are somewhat encouraged by increasing signs of economic recovery – albeit it very slow – creating an air of cautious optimism for the week ahead. Last week ended with the Dow Jones industrial average having remained virtually static, but with the Standard & Poor's 500 hitting its highest level since September 2008 and the Nasdaq composite closing at its highest point since December 2007. As things stand right now, analysts generally agree that there is a strong possibility for both the S&P 500 and the Dow to finish the year with gains of at least 10 percent, while the Nasdaq looks headed toward a 16 percent gain. The recently published interview with Warren Buffet in which he acknowledges that, while recovery is slow, the economy is definitely in recovery, will surely be a boost to optimism among investors. With some investors still shell-shocked by market volatility experienced since the events of 2008, it is no surprise that any optimism remains tempered by caution. Additionally, concerns over debt problems in Europe and the increase in China's inflation rate remain a cause for concern. Moreover, the Congressional debate regarding tax cut extension and fiscal stimulus feature strongly in investor decision making. Speculation abounds that if economic recovery continues at a steady pace, the quantitative easing (QE2) program unveiled in November encompassing the Federal Reserve's plan to buy $600 billion in US Treasuries may be curtailed.

  • 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act: Foundation of Modern Competition Law - 9 December 2010
  • In an era where mergers and acquisitions are relatively commonplace, antitrust laws and regulation of anti-competitive behavior is seen to be of utmost importance to prevent monopolies from forming which may be detrimental to consumers and the economy at large. In the United States, the Sherman Antitrust Act forms the basis of principles regulating anti-competitive behavior, calling upon the Federal Government to take action against companies and organizations engaged in anti-competitive activities. The fact that the act was legislated in 1890, and is still relevant today, shows that anti-competitive behavior is nothing new. There have long been those who have wanted more than their fair share of the pie, and there have long been others who have recognized the need to regulate monopolistic activities for the greater good. John Sherman proved to be among the latter category.

  • Hopes High For Tax Cut Extension - 6 December 2010
  • Economic recovery and stability are undoubtedly common goals for U.S. policymakers regardless of where their allegiance may lie politically, but that does not mean that there is complete agreement on how to reach that goal. The economic turmoil experienced by governments worldwide for more than two years now, has presented a number of unprecedented circumstances that have called for some drastic measures to deal with, and decision-makers charged with overseeing the economic welfare of many countries have often found themselves sailing uncharted waters. Investors have certainly been on a roller-coaster ride of note, with high-speed trading presenting additional challenges to overcome, making the stock market a place that is not for the faint-hearted to venture into.

  • US Markets Respond to Economic Recovery Indications - 2 December 2010
  • In an effort to capture as many consumer dollars possible, some US retailers started Black Friday sales on Thursday, while others extended their specials through to the end of the week following the biggest retail event on US consumer calendars. The results revealed that shopping patterns are shifting, and according to the National Retail Federation, US consumers spent on average $365.34 as compared to last year’s $343.31 for this period. The total amount spent over the Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend was around $45 billion, with more than 212 million shoppers swelling the crowds, apart from consumers who did their shopping online. So, in general, both retailers and shoppers scored from the frenzied spending spree, and the outlook for economic recovery brightened with the good start to the holiday season.

  • Black Friday, Cyber Monday Reveal Consumer Confidence - 29 November 2010
  • With Black Friday come and gone, heralding the beginning of the holiday season, investors will no doubt be looking forward to reports from the retail sector in the upcoming week as to consumer activity. Tens of thousands of shoppers packed stores nationwide in an attempt to nab the ultimate bargain, but while the consumer numbers were there, what these consumers spent on average and the sales figures from retail groups is what stock market players will be interested in, using this information to base investment decisions on as the holiday season continues. Despite the fact that US markets ended down on Friday, most likely influenced by the financial crisis in Ireland, among other factors, analysts are pointing toward data over the past few weeks that has indicated an improvement in the unemployment rate, and an increase in consumer spending, with consumer confidence working its way out of the doldrums – all tidbits of good news for investors and the US economy in general.

  • Markets Rally Wednesday on Encouraging Job Market Reports - 25 November 2010
  • Ever mindful of the fact that consumer spending is considered to be the backbone of a country's economy, on Thursday US markets rallied by more than one percent in response to the substantial drop in unemployment claims, which indicate an improvement in the embattled job market. While other indicators play a role in influencing markets, either positively or negatively, many agree that the job market, as monitored by unemployment claims, continuing claims and other information, tend to have a significant effect on markets, with a drop in jobless claims acting as a booster, and an increase in claims putting the brakes on. This good news about the job market couldn’t have come at a better time , with Black Friday right at the doorstep and retailers set to battle for the lion's share of consumer dollars.

  • Black Friday – Splurge Now, Pay Later - 22 November 2010
  • With Thanksgiving and Black Friday cutting short the upcoming trading week on Wall Street, many investors have their hopes pinned on major retailers raking in the money as millions of consumers throw caution to the wind and cash in on specials offered on this day. Black Friday is an American tradition which takes place the Friday after Thanksgiving, so-named because it drags a large number of retailers out of the red and into the black financially speaking. Many of these retailers rely on Black Friday sales to keep their heads above water, while retailing giants take advantage of the phenomenon to capture as much of those consumer dollars as possible. Competition is fierce and consumers who have the patience and pushiness to survive the Black Friday rush are likely to come away with that coveted item at a bargain price.

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