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  • Cautious Optimism on Wall Street for 2014 - 2 January 2014
  • With the CBOE Volatility Index down and major Wall Street indexes all up on the final trading day of 2013, investors are looking forward to 2014 with an air of cautious optimism. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 26.5 percent in 2013, being its best annual performance since 1995, while the Standard & Poor's 500 rose 29.6 percent over the past 12 months, its best performance since 1997. The Nasdaq composite index registered its best performance since 2009 with an increase of 38.3 percent. Moreover, the so-called "fear index" the VIX, fell 23.9 percent over the year, being its largest annual drop since 2009 and seen as a strong indication of improved investor sentiment.

  • Volcker Rule Set to Take Effect in April 2014 - 12 December 2013
  • Described by President Barack Obama as "a rule that makes sure big banks can't make risky bets with their customer's deposits", the Volcker Rule forms part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and is named for the man who proposed it – former United States Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. A number of exceptions to the Volcker Rule are included in the Dodd-Frank law, but its main aim is to prevent the type of speculative activity which played a major role in the 2007-2010 financial crisis. The Volcker Rule was originally scheduled to come into effect with the Dodd-Frank law on July 21, 2012, but was delayed for various reasons, and is now scheduled to come into effect on April 1, 2014.

  • Retailers Aim to Cash-in on Black Friday - 28 November 2013
  • Celebrated on the last Thursday of November, Thanksgiving Day in the United States is followed by Black Friday, with retailers kicking off the holiday shopping season with a host of specials that have some shoppers camping out on their doorsteps overnight to be among the first through the doors when they open. The origin and meaning of the term "Black Friday" is a matter for debate, but today it is generally accepted to mean that retailers operating at a financial loss (in the 'red') for most of the year, are likely to turn a profit on that day (in the 'black') as shoppers descend in their droves to take advantage of specials.

  • Timothy Massad Nominated as CFTC Chairman - 14 November 2013
  • President Barack Obama's nomination of Timothy Massad to replace Gary Gensler as the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) came as no surprise. Massad played a significant role in the bank bailout program brought about by the 2008 financial crisis and should the Senate confirm his nomination, Massad will head the agency charged with implementing the Dodd-Frank Act aimed at regulating trading of complex derivatives on Wall Street. This lucrative, and often volatile, market has been accused of being one of the root causes in the destabilization of the US economy and the CFTC has the task of ensuring this particular piece of history is not repeated.

  • Twitter Prepares for IPO Launch - 31 October 2013
  • As Twitter prepares to launch its initial public offering, analysts are comparing every move the company makes to Facebook's problem-plagued May 2012 IPO through Nasdaq. Twitter aims to raise $1.6 billion with its IPO, and analysts have predicted that when the company starts trading it may be worth between $12 billion and $20 billion. As of June 30, 2013, Twitter had 218.3 million active monthly users, reflecting an increase of 44 percent over the same period of last year. The company, which has been operating for seven years, has noted that as the size of its user base increases, user growth rate will slow down.

  • Reid-McConnell Act Averts Default - 17 October 2013
  • Stock markets rallied in response to an eleventh-hour agreement to end the partial US government shutdown, with the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq all closing up by more than one percent on Wednesday just prior to confirmation of the deal which will fund the US government until January 15, 2014, and extend the debt ceiling to February 7. The S&P 500 rose 23 points to 1,721, the Dow Jones climbed by 206 points to close at 15,374 and the Nasdaq rose 45 points to 3,839 on Wednesday amid an upbeat mood on Wall Street.

  • Talk of US Debt Default Unsettles Markets - 7 October 2013
  • Global markets continue to be affected by the grim possibility that the US government's partial shutdown could result in the world’s largest economy defaulting on its debt. Japan's Nikkei index dropped by more than 1 percent to 13,853.32 on Monday, with the Hang Seng index of Hong Kong falling 0.7 percent to 22,973.95 and India’s BSE 30 losing 0.5 percent to close at 19,808.71. Markets were closed for a public holiday on mainland China. Following Friday's modest gains, markets slumped ahead of the opening bell on Wall Street on Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average index futures dropped 0.8 percent, with the Nasdaq index futures falling 0.9 percent and Standard & Poor's 500 index futures slumping 1 percent. As the impasse between Republicans and the White House continues, investor anxiety has risen. The news that there would not be a vote on a straightforward bill to grant the government borrowing authority before the October 17 deadline has shaken markets as is evident in major indexes.

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