CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 27, 2012 |
Reporting from Yosemite National Park -- Winter in the high country is usually a season of icy quiet. Birds leave, bears hibernate, and only a few hardy people on skis or snowshoes pass through en route to snow-covered granite domes. But Christmas and New Year's Day came and went, then Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, and still only auburn pine needles covered the ground. Chattering squirrels, normally tucked away in their winter nests, perched on top of "Snow Play Area" signs, with no snow in sight.
January 10, 2012 |
Exchange-traded mutual funds that use risky strategies in pursuit of outsized returns are not making the stock market more volatile, according to a study by Morningstar Inc. The report argues that so-called leveraged ETFs, which attempt to magnify underlying moves in stock prices, have had little effect on the market's heightened volatility in the last few years. Instead, the study says, fundamental factors such as corporate earnings play a far bigger role. The fund-tracking firm is walking a fine line of sorts in its report.
January 4, 2012 |
The Federal Reserve, taking an innovative step in its public statements, will start providing a quarterly forecast of when it plans to make a shift in the key short-term interest rate that it sets — its latest effort to spur the sluggish economy and calm volatile stock markets. The projections, to start late this month, could act as an economic stimulus by offering a tentative financial road map to consumers and businesses to encourage them to borrow and take risks. It also could help ease market tension and push down already historically low yields on long-term bonds.
January 4, 2012 |
The records that brothers Ira and Charlie Louvin made in the 1950s and early '60s are some of the most revered and influential in the history of country music. The songs, many of them written by the Alabama-born siblings, have been widely recorded by succeeding generations of singers; their distinctive harmonies on songs such as "I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby," "When I Stop Dreaming," "If I Could Only Win Your Love," "Every Time You Leave" and "Don't Laugh" created a template that strongly affected groups from the Everly Brothers to the Beatles and the Byrds, to the Judds and forward to Lady Antebellum.
December 31, 2011 |
When it comes to stocks, the U.S. is unexpectedly sitting on top of the world. Stock markets from Berlin to Shanghai to Sao Paulo, Brazil, ended 2011 with double-digit losses caused by the European debt crisis and fears of slowing economic growth in China. That was a blow to investors who have been counseled in recent years to broaden their portfolios to supposedly faster-growing venues overseas. Even in a year when America's own credit rating was slashed, the nation's biggest stock indexes somehow sidestepped the global rout.
December 29, 2011 |
The Standard & Poor's 500 index is once again in the red for 2011. A rough day on the markets Wednesday yanked the benchmark index back into negative territory with just two trading days left for the year. The index ended Wednesday down 1.3%, or 15.79 points, at 1,249.64. That is 0.6% below where it began 2011. The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day down 1.1%, or 139.94 points, at 12,151.41. It is still up 5% for the year. Investors were rattled by reports that European banks had borrowed large sums from the European Central Bank without lending most of it out, highlighting risks still present in the continent's economy.
December 24, 2011 |
If their trek to visit the baby Jesus had happened this year, the biblical Magi might have been in for a surprise. The market for the gifts offered by the three kings — gold, frankincense and myrrh — is much changed since the first Christmas long ago. Frankincense, used in perfumes and incense, especially is becoming more rare. Within 15 years, yield of the fragrant resin from the Boswellia tree species, found in Ethiopia and elsewhere in Africa, is expected be half the amount it is now. And 50 Christmases from now, frankincense production could be down 90% because of threats from fire, grazing and destructive beetles, according to the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology this week.
December 21, 2011 |
Don't count on the Santa Claus rally. Investors head into the final few weeks of 2011 with optimism that Wall Street can gain enough momentum for a sprint to the finish. That was the case Tuesday when the Dow Jones industrial average surged more than 300 points, marking its best performance all month. The gain, however, might be yet another symptom of the market's continuing volatility, in which major stock gauges surge one day only to plunge the next. Since December began, the Dow has changed directions on eight of 14 trading days.
December 10, 2011 |
The U.S. economy, which has been picking up steam recently, got another boost from the latest trade numbers. The Commerce Department said Friday that the nation's trade deficit in October narrowed to $43.5 billion, the lowest level since December 2010. The improvement, from an upwardly revised deficit of $44.2 billion in September, was due almost entirely to higher exports and lower imports of petroleum, a volatile category. Still, the smaller trade shortfall prompted analysts to mark up their projections for gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity.
December 3, 2011 |
Wall Street's sky-high annual bonuses are likely to fall a bit closer to earth this year. Nearly everyone from the CEOs down to the entry-level analysts is preparing to see compensation cut as the end-of-year bonus season draws near. Although final decisions are weeks away, several reports issued recently are predicting that average 2011 compensation at global investment banks will drop between 15% and 30% from last year. Banks have already reported they reduced compensation during the first three quarters of the year.