Posts Tagged ‘cnn’

OPEC’s message to US shale: Drop dead

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2014 at 5:40 am
shale oil producer

OPEC just fired a shot at the U.S. shale industry.

Despite tumbling prices — the lowest since 2010 — the cartel surprised the energy industry by deciding to keep pumping oil at current levels. One motivation is to squeeze higher-cost producers in North America, including the booming U.S. shale industry that has reshaped the global energy landscape.

It’s a move Tony Soprano would be proud of. OPEC is betting lower oil prices will force U.S. producers to throw up the white flag and cut back on production because they won’t be able to turn a profit.

“The gauntlet has been thrown down for Western Hemisphere producers like Brazil, Canada and the United States,” Bespoke Investment Group wrote in a note to clients on Friday.

Related: Nightmare for oil stocks

Dot-com bust all over again? The fear is that OPEC’s hard line could cause a pull back in the U.S. shale industry, sparking job losses and causing panic in the financial markets.

That’s what Russian oil tycoon Leonid Fedun is predicting, although Russia isn’t part of OPEC.

“The shale boom is on par with the dot-com boom. The strong players will remain, the weak ones will vanish,” he told Bloomberg News on Thursday.

The OPEC move has clearly spooked investors, who sent energy stocks like Halliburton (HAL), Helmerich Payne (HP) and Schlumberger (SLB) plummeting on Friday. (U.S. markets were closed for Thanksgiving Day on Thursday).

oil price drop

“I think there will be increased scrutiny of the balance sheets of the exploration and production companies. You’ll see some of the weaker players fall out,” said Tamar Essner, energy analyst at Nasdaq Advisory Services.

Related: The real Black Friday deal: cheap gas

Credit stress ahead: That scrutiny forced SeaDrill Limited (SDRL) to suspend its dividend earlier this week, causing the offshore drilling contractor’s stock to plummet 23%.

Essner “absolutely” expects more drillers and oil servicing companies to cut or even suspend dividends. Bespoke’s baseline scenario calls for dividend suspensions and bond defaults among more “marginal” named producers.

Many troubled shale companies will be able to avoid bankruptcy by selling acreage to boost cash flows though, said Per Magnus Nysveen, head of analysis at Rystad Energy.

No crash just yet: While financial stress could be looming for shale oil producers, experts aren’t forecasting a complete meltdown.

“I don’t think this will spell the death knell of the U.S. shale industry. Time and again this industry has proved very resilient,” Essner said.

Nysveen said the breakeven crude oil price for U.S. shale producers is around $50 or $55. Despite the recent plunge, oil is still well above that at the $70 range.

Those crucial breakeven points have been trending lower and lower in recent years thanks to technological advances that have made oil producers dramatically more efficient.

“U.S. production is much more competitive than 30 years ago,” Nysveen said.

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Jon Stewart’s ‘Rosewater’ underwhelms at box office

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2014 at 5:40 am
jon stewart rosewater
Jon Stewart took time off from hosting “The Daily Show” to direct the film.

Earlier this month it was hard to turn on a TV without seeing “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart promoting his directorial debut “Rosewater.”

Did all the media attention help the film at the box office? Doesn’t seem that way.

The film — which had a limited release on November 14 — has underwhelmed at the box office so far, banking just $2.2 million after two weeks.

The film opened in a relatively small number of theaters — 371 — and is expected to expand into more theaters in December.

But the early results aren’t encouraging, especially considering that Stewart received widespread press attention.

This is a list of some of the places that “The Daily Show” host promoted his film: NBC’s “Today,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” “The Colbert Report,” “The O’Reilly Factor,” three shows on CNN, New York Magazine, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and of course “The Daily Show” itself.

On top of all that, the film was well-reviewed — it currently holds a 74% fresh rating on review site Rotten Tomatoes.

Related: What’s next for Jon Stewart?

“Rosewater” tells the story of journalist Maziar Bahari and his 2009 imprisonment in Iran. It is considered an “art film,” that is, focused on critical and not commercial acclaim.

But even if the film wasn’t meant for a mass audience, Stewart is. The host is one of the best known — and highest paid — personalities in media, so the fact that his name hasn’t drawn a bigger audience is a bit surprising.

“Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas” opened on the same weekend as Stewart’s film in a comparable number of theaters (410) and has banked $2.1 million without the press attention.

The distributor of “Rosewater,” Open Road, declined to comment on the box office totals.

While the results may be disappointing, they’re not devastating — the budget for the film was just $5 million.

And, it almost goes without saying, Stewart still has his day job.

Related: Jon Stewart Apologies for telling CNN he didn’t vote

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Black Friday deals: What shoppers are searching for

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2014 at 5:40 am

Black Friday Brawls 

Black Friday may be losing some of its luster at the mall, but online, the deals shine brightly.

From their smartphones, tablets or laptops — and the comfort of the living room or Thanksgiving dinner table — customers could find discounts all week that rivaled the in-store doorbusters.

Because of that, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer one-day events, and the discounts have already begun. Here is what online search results revealed shoppers were hunting for on Friday.


Earlier in the week, the country was gripped by a cold snap, and parts of the northeast were blanketed by a snowstorm that made it look more like Christmas than Thanksgiving. Perhaps that’s why one of the top searches was for “snowblowers on sale.”

black friday snowblower


The popular Beats by Dre headphones are expected to be one of the season’s hottest items. Several retailers were offering deals. These shoppers were lined up at Best Buy, (BBY) where some models were discounted by $60.

black friday search beats
Best Buy shoppers lined up to buy Beats by Dre headpones at a discount.


The XBox One was such a hot item that at some stores it sold out on Friday.

black friday xbox


Customers haven’t been rushing to replace their still-functioning tablets, so sales have been slumping. But customers are still searching for deals.

black friday search tablets


The North Face put some of its iconic jackets on sale.

black friday northface


Uggs boots were also a hot item, and were discounted at some stores by a third.

black friday uggs


Tis the season for love. While some, like this woman at a Macy’ (M)s, were browsing and trying on jewelry, others knew what they were searching for: engagement rings.

black friday search ring

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When did Black Friday start?

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2014 at 5:40 am

This is how Black Friday began 

Black Friday has become as synonymous with Thanksgiving as pumpkin pie, but there are a lot of myths surrounding the origins of the shopping event, some even going back as far as the 1800s.

Turns out, you don’t have to rewind quite that far to find the source.

Along with the cheesesteak and the hoagie, the term Black Friday is rooted in Philadelphia. In the 1950s, police in The City of Brotherly Love used the term to describe the horde of shoppers from the suburbs that descended into the city for the days after Thanksgiving, according to Bonnie Taylor-Blake, a neuroscience researcher at the University of North Carolina. The city promoted big sales and decorations, ahead of the Army/Navy football game on Saturday.

“It was a double whammy. Traffic cops were required to work 12-hour shifts, no one could take off and people would flood the sidewalks, parking lots and streets. The cops had to deal with it all and coined the term.”

Apple users outspend Android users on ‘Black Thursday’

City merchants also started to use the term to describe the long lines and shopping mayhem at their stores. “It became this comical reference to downtown Philadelphia following Thanksgiving.”

However, in 1961 there was a push to rebrand the day as “Big Friday.”

“They were worried the negative connotation would keep people from coming to the city,” said Taylor-Blake, who is also a member American Dialect Society.

Clearly, the effort didn’t catch on. So now, the retailers have learned to embrace the name, and have even expanded the one-day shopping event into a four-day marathon.

Black Friday’s real deal: Cheap gas

Black Friday is commonly mistaken for being named after the day retail companies would become profitable for the year. Retailers used to record their losses in red ink and profits in black. “That’s just not the case on where the name came from,” said Taylor-Blake.

There’s also a more recent myth circulating that the term refers to the days of slavery when slaves were sold at a discount to plantation owners the day after Thanksgiving — another untruth, said Taylor-Blake.

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Black Friday: Just another busy shopping day

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2014 at 5:40 am

How Target preps for Black Friday 

Is the Black Friday frenzy losing its grip? That’s what it felt like at one Target in a New Jersey shopping plaza early Friday morning.

Hundreds of customers had already lined up for the store’s 6 p.m. open on Thursday. Discounted Beats headphones, XBox Ones and PlayStation 4s were the first to fly from the shelves.

And by dawn on Black Friday, the shelves were restocked for the next wave.

But the shoppers only trickled in.

It’s impossible to project a trend from one shopping mall and one of Target’s 1,800 U.S. stores.

That same Target a few hours later was in the regular swing of holiday weekend shopping. The parking lot was full and aisles busy. Employees carried off cardboard bins once full of $6 DVD movies, now empty.

But more retailers are opening on Thanksgiving and starting sales even earlier in the week, and of course more customers are buying online. All that lessens some of the early-morning surge.

Target (TGT) indicated that business was strong leading up to Black Friday. Online sales boomed on Wednesday, and Thursday was the company’s best-ever for cyber business.

On Friday, some shoppers at the New Jersey Target said they had gotten started the night before by using Target’s shopping app. Not to make purchases but to select the items they’d look for the next morning.

One young mother, who preferred to go by Rachel J., hoped that keeping to her pre-selected, 20-item list made her a more disciplined and frugal shopper. Still, she expected to spend $250 and instead ended up dropping $337.40.

In-store Starbucks (SBUX) baristas recalled the long lines of shoppers who had refueled with caffeine for midnight shopping. The usual one-person team was bulked up to three employees. But by 7 a.m. Friday, it was just business as usual.

target black friday2
Black Friday traffic is changing: There were few customers in one Target early Friday after a busy Thanksgiving. But the store returned to a normal busy day within a few hours.

Not everyone was lured in on Thursday.

Outside in the snow covered parking lot on Friday, Dawn Fisher packed away a handful of items in her trunk: pajamas for her teenage daughter, pots and pans for a holiday charity drive at work.

Fisher said the slightly lower prices hadn’t been enticing enough to ditch Thanksgiving dinner the day before.

Among the things Fisher and the family were thankful for this year: The fact that none of them work in retail and have to work during the holiday.

“It’s a family day,” she said. “If they want to open up and take that away from their employees, that’s their problem.”

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Walmart hit with protests on Black Friday

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2014 at 5:40 am
walmart war on workers
About 75 protesters marched outside the Walmart in North Bergen, N.J., on Friday.

It’s becoming a tradition for Black Friday shoppers to find not just deals, but protests at some Walmart stores.

This year, some of the biggest demonstrations took place outside Walmarts in Chicago and Washington D.C., as well in cities in California, Washington, Texas and New Jersey.

At a store in North Bergen, N.J., about 75 protesters marched around the parking lot. They carried signs that read: “People who work deserve a living wage” and “Shame on Walmart.” At times they chanted: “Walmart, your kingdom must come down.”

Most of them were not Walmart employees but are asking the company to pay all workers at least $15 an hour. Walmart says it pays full-time workers an average of $12.94 an hour.

It is the third year in a row that union-backed groups organized Black Friday protests at some Walmart locations.

Related: 24 hours with a Black Friday worker

But while organizers said demonstrations were planned for 1,600 stores, they could not say exactly how many were taking place. On Friday afternoon, they still expected it to be the biggest action on Black Friday to date, according to Dan Schlademan, a campaign director.

Hundreds of workers were participating on Friday, he said. That includes 30 workers who organizers said walked off the job at stores in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. and seven who were arrested for blocking traffic outside a store in Chicago.

But Walmart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said as of Friday afternoon, no employees at any location had come into work and then walked off the job. The company had received a handful of notices from workers who said they were planning to strike today, she said, but an official tally of employees who didn’t show up for work was not yet available.

walmart respect dc
Protesters marched in D.C. Friday morning.

Only one Walmart worker, Barbara Gertz, spoke at the rally outside the New Jersey store, and she actually works in Colorado. The union-backed groups often cover travel costs for workers who come to protest.

Most of the protesters in New Jersey were not workers, but members of unions including the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the American Postal Workers Union. Some declined to speak with CNNMoney because they said they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the union groups. But Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers union, got on the megaphone to speak to the crowd.

walmart stand with workers

“We will not rest until Walmart workers have a right to a union, a right to a living wage, and a right to decent working conditions and hours,” she said. (While some of the unions present are not tied to retail and service employees, they say low hourly wages are a community issue, not just a Walmart issue.)

In the past, unions have been unsuccessful at organizing Walmart workers.

The union groups don’t represent Walmart and the protesters do not reflect the view of Walmart associates, Buchanan said.

There are more than 4,000 Walmart (WMT) stores across the country and the company employs about 1.3 million workers in the U.S.

Related: What shoppers are searching for

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Soaring ratings for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2014 at 5:40 am
spiderman macys parade
This year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade brought in over 22 million viewers for NBC.

Much like the inflatable floats of Spider-Man and Snoopy, this year’s ratings for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade soared.

NBC’s telecast of the annual New York City parade averaged 22.6 million viewers between 9 a.m. and noon Eastern — the second-largest audience for the parade in the past decade.

The largest audience came last year when 25.2 million tuned in. (That spike was a surprise because the parade’s ratings are pretty steady every year. In 2012, the average audience was 22.4 million.)

In a press release, NBC noted that the parade — which was hosted by Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, and Al Roker — was one of the highest-rated telecasts on TV this season, beating “every primetime non-sports telecast on the Big 4 networks.”

See Macy's $5B Thanksgiving Day Balloons 

NBC works with Macy’s to produce the “official” telecast of the parade. CBS broadcasts an “unofficial” version along the parade route; ratings for the show weren’t immediately available on Friday.

After the parade on Thursday, NBC televised another Thanksgiving tradition, the “National Dog Show Presented by Purina,” and it averaged 10.3 million viewers for the network, down slightly from 10.7 million viewers last year.

And NBC’s primetime NFL offering of the San Francisco 49ers taking on the Seattle Seahawks netted the Peacock a preliminary audience of 17.7 million viewers, also down slightly from the year before.

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Black Friday on strike: Walmart workers vow big protests

In Uncategorized on November 28, 2014 at 5:37 pm
wal mart protest street
Shoppers won’t be the only ones lined up outside some Walmart stores on Black Friday.

Some aggrieved Walmart workers and their advocates have a slew of grievances. And for the third year in a row, they will air them on one of the busiest shopping days: Black Friday.

Protesters are expected to gather outside 1,600 Walmart (WMT) stores across the country as the retailer launches doorbuster deals.

That would be more than ever before, according to organizers. Some demonstrations are planned for Wednesday, while others will take place on Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday.

Among the bigger events are expected in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Chicago, Tampa, Dallas, Denver and Sacramento. Walmart has 4,281 U.S. stores.

Stores one-up each other on Thanksgiving 

Some workers are expected to strike, walking off the job during their shift. They will be joined by teachers and other community leaders.

The demonstrators are backed by groups like OUR Walmart, which has union ties. And they are calling for higher wages (a minimum of $15 an hour) and fair schedules.

In response, a Walmart (WMT)spokeswoman said a lot of the demonstrators are not Walmart workers and do not accurately reflect the views of its employees.

CEO Doug McMillon said last month that only 6,000 of the company’s 1.3 million U.S. workers are paid at the minimum wage. He vowed that the company would eventually pay all its workers above the minimum wage.

Related: The ultimate guide to shopping on Thanksgiving

At least one Walmart employee planning to protest this week said it’s not just about money.

“We’re overworked, underpaid and disrespected,” said Shomari Lewis, who works overnights in Arlington, Texas, stocking inventory.

One of his biggest complaints: He says his workload has increased over the past couple of years, without what he feels is a commensurate increase in pay.

Walmart protesters come out from time to time throughout the year, but most demonstrations happen around Black Friday. Fast-food and other retail workers have also been protesting in recent years, asking to be paid a living wage.

Related: We love working on Thanksgiving!

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India’s economy slows, but optimism remains

In Uncategorized on November 28, 2014 at 5:37 pm

Women in India struggle to find work 

India’s economic growth slowed last quarter, raising the stakes for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he seeks to push through long-overdue reforms.

Gross domestic product grew by 5.3% during the second quarter of India’s fiscal year, down from a 5.7% expansion in the previous quarter. However, many economists had expected a worse showing.

India’s new government has gone to great lengths to build a consensus around economic reforms since gaining power in May’s parliamentary elections.

Modi has promised to end policy paralysis, reduce inflation and tackle corruption. He also pledged to establish manufacturing hubs and industrial corridors and improve the tax code.

But many of the reforms have been stalled by political gridlock, and big ticket reforms have failed to materialize.

“The government’s reform agenda has recently gathered momentum, but progress in a number of the most important areas has so far been underwhelming,” Capital Economics said in a research note.

Related: India’s economy will get its “big bang”

Yet there is a feeling of optimism in India, and many hope that Modi’s efforts to pull India out of its malaise will improve the country’s economic position.

The benchmark Mumbai Sensex index has increased by nearly 35% so far this year, and rules on foreign investment have been eased.

“If you see the cumulative effect of what we are doing, the cumulative effect is a big bang reform,” the country’s new finance minister, Arun Jaitley, told CNN earlier this month.

While there are no great alternatives, the quality of India’s GDP statistics leave something to be desired. The data are not seasonably adjusted, and large revisions are routine.

Related: India looks for love on Tinder

Related: Oil prices crash below $70

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How to bargain shop for stocks

In Uncategorized on November 28, 2014 at 5:37 pm
bargain stocks

Shoppers aren’t the only ones searching for deals these days.

With the stock market up about 200% since the worst of the financial crisis, it’s become harder and harder to find stocks that look cheap.

But just like how savvy shoppers devise plans to capitalize on Black Friday deals, investors should consider these strategies to find bargains in the stock market.

Valuations matter: Unlike flat screen TVs and handbags, stocks can’t be evaluated by their price alone. Investors need to be aware of how stocks are valued compared to their future profits.

Forward price-to-earnings, or P/E, is a common valuation metric and helps investors compare how expensive a stock looks with the rest of the market. Investors are typically willing to pay a higher multiple for stocks with greater growth potential.

For example, fast-growing Facebook (FB, Tech30) sports a forward P/E of nearly 40, which is more than double the SP 500′s multiple of about 17. On the other hand, General Motors (GM) is trading at just 7.5 times next year’s projected earnings.

Related: Will 2015 be the ho-hum year for stocks?

Don’t ignore dividends: While P/E ratios are important to weigh, they leave out vital information like a company’s ability to pay out dividends.

Experts look for healthy balance sheets (think: low levels of debt) and companies predicting strong future earnings. A company’s track record for paying dividends is also a good predictor of whether corporate management makes dividends a priorities. Companies with a long history of paying dividends are very hesitant to cut that payout.

“Look at it through the lens of your own needs as an investor. If you are retired and need income, suddenly dividend-paying stocks should look more attractive,” said Kristina Hooper, U.S. investment strategist at Allianz Global Advisors.

Related: Timber! Why the rich are buying trees

Search for the ugly duckling: Sometimes investor sentiment can swing too far in one extreme or the other. If expectations fall unrealistically low, bargains can often be found.

“The Eurozone is a perfect example of this,” said Hooper.

Investors have soured on European stocks due to deepening concerns about a lack of growth and the potential for deflation. However, the European Central Bank has recently hinted at aggressive new actions at stimulating the economy, including buying government bonds.

While conceding that there are risks to buying European stocks, Hooper said Allianz believes there’s “a significant amount of upside potential in the Eurozone” because the continent will ultimately avoid a recession.

Related: 10 stocks to buy now

Take a deeper dive: Bargains in the stock market often aren’t evident by just looking at the surface.

For example, emerging markets may look fairly valued as a whole, but when they are broken down by geography a clearer picture emerges.

Allianz believes emerging markets in Asia look a lot more attractive than other regions like Latin America because of their stronger earnings growth and healthier debt-to-GDP levels.

“It’s becoming harder and harder to paint any sector or region with a broad brush. Investors are going to have to drill down,” said Hooper.

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