Venture capital confidence rebounds in Q4

Start-up investors are feeling a little more hopeful after a rough year, as valuations shake out in Silicon Valley, according to research released Thursday. Confidence among Bay Area venture capitalists hit 3.59 on a scale from 1 to 5 in the fourth quarter of 2015, the first uptick after three consecutive quarters of declines, the University of San Francisco said. ... Read More »

Do you know what is in your dividend ETF?

ConocoPhillips’ announcement that it was cutting its dividend by two-thirds was a bit of a surprise, since it was the first major oil company to make the cut. It’s also got investors investing in dividend paying ETFs scrambling to look at what’s under the hood of their investments. Look at dividend ETFs and you will notice a very wide disparity ... Read More »

The market is having an abnormally normal day

Stocks are doing something rare on Thursday: Nothing. With three hours left in the trading day, the S&P 500 is up a mere 0.1 percent. If the magnitude of the market’s move does not rise, Thursday will be the S&P’s third least-move-y day this year. The beginning of 2016 has proven an emotional roller coaster for investors, albeit not a ... Read More »

Falling odds of Fed hike hurt banks

It’s less likely the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates again next month, according to a growing number of economists. If they’re right, it compounds the problems big banks on Wall Street are facing. Most banks ended last year pricing in expectations the Fed would hike interest rates three or four times. Banks including JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup ... Read More »

Early signs of capitulation for oil

Squeezed by falling oil prices, Russia is talking about privatizing its major companies to close its budget shortfall. Nigeria is seeking a World Bank loan to cover its $11 billion budget gap. Even Saudi Arabia has been drawing down reserves and discussing selling a stake in its national oil company Saudi Aramco. There’s no doubt the oil producing nations and ... Read More »

Negative rates in US? Here’s why it could happen

Less than two months after the Fed enacted its first rate hike in more than nine years, market talk already has turned to whether the central bank’s future may not be more hikes, but rather negative rates. Intensifying recession fears, volatile financial markets and moves toward negative rates by other central banks have triggered speculation over whether the Fed may ... Read More »

Cramer: Lower gas prices ‘spotty’ in retail

Savings from lower gasoline prices have not boosted retail spending as much as investors would expect, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said on Thursday. “I didn’t think [Kohl’s] was as bad as it was doing because a lot of people feel, including me, that at a certain point lower gasoline should help,” said Cramer on “Squawk on the Street.” “This plus Ralph ... Read More »

Warren Buffett’s new oil bet nears $1 billion

After three more days of buying, Warren Buffett’s Phillips 66 shopping spree is nearing a billion dollars for the year. In a new filing, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway reveals that on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week the company purchased another 1.7 million shares of the energy giant for almost $132 million. Over 15 days of buying since Jan. 4, ... Read More »

ConocoPhillips cuts dividend; Who is safe?

Now that the first major oil company has slashed its dividend, what other energy companies could be planning to do so, and whose dividends are safe? ConocoPhillips on Thursday cut its quarterly dividend from 74 cents per share to 25 cents per share. “While we don’t know how far commodity prices will fall, or the duration of the downturn, we ... Read More »

Can the markets predict recessions? What we found out

It turns out investors probably should heed those national park signs warning hikers to “Beware of Bears.” In a 1966 Newsweek article, the eminent economist Paul Samuelson famously quipped that the stock market had predicted nine of the past five recessions. It’s a remark that is often repeated to deride the powers of the stock market to predict the economy. ... Read More »