Wells Fargo Strategist Still Very Pessimistic on Stock Prices Following Recent Fed Developments

Wells Fargo Strategist Still Very Pessimistic on Stock Prices Following Recent Fed Developments

Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) financial strategist Gina Martin Adams has been quite conservative when it comes to her stock forecasts for most of the year, including the time when the Standard & Poor 500 rallied by 21 percent.  With the Federal Reserve confirming that it will refrain from tapering its bond-buying economic stimulus for the time being, Ms. Adams said on Futures Now that the S&P 500 index will close 2013 at 1,440, continuing her trend of being extremely bearish and conservative in her forecasts.

“Our target is based on fundamentals,” said Ms. Adams. “We’re basing our target on typical valuation measures, given the level of interest rates and also on earnings forecasts. And that’s why our target is relatively low.” Her hypotheses on the stock market going forward suggest that the market will lose 16 percent in the December ending quarter of 2013, thereby negating any and all improvements made following 2013’s first day of trading.

Talking about the recent rally in stock prices driven by the improved political situation in Syria and the Fed’s decision not to taper its bond purchases yet, Ms. Adams looked at this rally with a lot of skepticism. “It’s all about emotion at this point,” said Ms. Adams. “The entirety of the S&P 500’s increase this year has come via the multiple. It’s been simply through the amount that investors are willing to bid up the value of the future earnings stream.” One metric that backs this postulate up is the S&P 500’s price-earnings multiple, which had gone up from 17 on January 1 to close to 20 as of this writing.

Ms. Adams is of the belief that investors have yet to acclimate themselves with the recent increase in Treasury yields, from 1.6 percent on the 10-year Treasury to 2.7 percent at the present.  “Stocks tend to follow rates over time,” said the strategist, astutely describing the ramifications of Treasury gyrations. “Typically, when you get a 100 basis point move in Treasury rates, you get a contraction on the P/E multiple on stocks of about a full turn. That, by itself, implies you get something of a 10-percent-plus correction in stocks.”  Regarding the Fed’s decision not to taper, Ms. Adams said that “the damage has been done”, as far as “taper talk” leading to higher mortgage rates and volatile stock prices is concerned.  The only thing that would counter this, she said, would be a puissant rally in bond prices and the Fed being “able to manipulate yields significantly lower.”

Be that as it may, Ms. Adams closed her Futures Now interview by warning investors that it may be time to “face the music” next month due to the precipitous fall in stock prices she expects to happen next quarter.

Starbucks Frowns on Firearms, Stops Short of Banning Them

Starbucks Frowns on Firearms, Stops Short of Banning ThemStarbucks has made a polite request to its customers, asking them to kindly leave their guns at home when stepping out for coffee. However, the chain stopped short of actually banning customers from bringing guns into Starbucks stores outright and has now found itself thrust right into the center of the national gun control debate.

The firm’s Chief Executive Howard Schultz made the request in the form of an open letter, which came in response to a growing barrage of complaints being received by the Starbucks chain. Having always allowed customers to freely bring in and openly show their firearms in areas where carrying guns is legal, Starbucks has taken a somewhat on-the-fence stance by asking for the practice to be stopped, without actually enforcing any new rules.

Those in favor of gun control have long criticized Starbucks for not caring what its customers bring into its outlets. According to Mr Schultz, the open letter has been written and publicized in order  to help cool an increasingly hostile situation where both sides of the debate are taking aggressive and even ‘threatening’ stances to try and enforce their own beliefs.

“For these reasons, today we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas—even in states where “open carry” is permitted—unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel,” the letter reads, which has been published today in various US newspapers.

Starbucks chose not to follow suit with various other major retailers across the US that have already banned guns from their premises altogether, unless held by law enforcement official or other such individuals. Instead, the letter has been designed to “give responsible gun owners the chance to respect our request” in the hope that some middle ground will be reached and put a halt to staff members being put in awkward and potentially dangerous positions.

But even such minor moves in favor of one group or another have prompted overreactions from both sides of the fence. While those in favor of gun control have slated Starbuck for making a redundant gesture that achieves nothing, some of the more hard-lined gun-rights groups have vowed to boycott Starbucks and its products altogether.

So in a move that was supposed to be for the common good, Starbucks seems to have impressively managed to annoy both sides of the debate.

U.S. Stock Prices Move Back Up Following Failed Summers Bid for Fed Chairmanship

U.S. Stock Prices Move Back Up Following Failed Summers Bid for Fed Chairmanship

U.S. stock prices and Treasuries were both on the upswing today, following Lawrence H. Summers’ withdrawal from contention to become the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and a new agreement between the United States and Russia to request that Syria destroy all chemical weapons by the middle of next year.

As of 2:33 p.m., the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index moved up by 0.6 percent to 1,697.43, following an earlier gain of more than 1 percent.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked up by 0.8 percent, or 115.42 points to 15,491.48 as of the same time.  Yields on ten-year Treasury bonds, on the other hand, were down by three basis points to 2.87 percent, while the U.S. dollar eased against its other Group of Ten currencies.  Notable gainers included Boeing, Co. (NYSE: BA), which improved by 4 percent following an adjusted price target from Sterne Agee, while today’s losers included Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), which has lost 2.9 percent so far, as the company’s stock price continues to struggle in the aftermath of last week’s iPhone 5S introduction.

Mr. Summers had taken his name out of consideration for Fed chairmanship right before a scheduled two-day meeting, which will kick off tomorrow.  This meeting will be key for investors and market watchers alike, as the Fed is believed to discuss its plans for a potential scaling down of its bond-buying economic stimulus, known colloquially as “QE3”, or the third round of quantitative easing.  Speculation suggested that Mr. Summers would be stricter in terms of policies than rival Janet L. Yellen, his primary rival as a potential replacement for current Chairman Ben S. Bernanke.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Bingham, Osborn & Scarborough principal Colleen Supran said that she does not believe the market was aware of the type of chairman Mr. Summers would be.  “Having him out of the running makes things a lot more certain,” posited Ms. Supran.  “This tapering announcement that’s expected for Wednesday seems to be accepted by the markets.”  She added that any tapering from the Fed may likely be “modest.”  Aside from Mr. Summers and Mrs. Yellen, President Barack Obama’s list of potential Fed Chairman candidates includes former Fed vice chairman Donald L. Kohn.

The Fed is expected by experts to start tapering its $85 billion bond-buying stimulus by about $10 billion starting this week, though it remains unsure just how that would impact stock prices.  The bond-buying stimulus, aside from helping a modest economic recovery, has spurred the S&P 500 to rally by over 150 percent since its low point in March 2009.  Had Mr. Summers been named Fed chairman, economists believe that he could make the market more risky, but it is believed that Mrs. Yellen’s policies will be similar to those currently in force under Mr. Bernanke.

Trump International Hotel, The Old Post Office Building Details Made Public

Trump International Hotel, The Old Post Office Building Details Made PublicDonald Trump has spilled the beans on his ambitious plans to transform an iconic landmark in Washington into a super-luxury hotel. The project represents one of many efforts to breathe new life into the fading luster of down-town DC.

And of course, he was more than happy to proclaim that “cost is no object” for the project, which will see the Pennsylvania Avenue Old Post Office Building given a new lease of life as one of the world’s most prestigious and luxurious hotels.

“As far as the building itself, it will be magnificent at the highest level,” said a glowing Trump while speaking of the project to a new conference this week.

Estimated to come in at around $200 million…which is frankly a drop in the ocean for Trump…the 270 rooms of the upscale hotel will have an average size of 56-square-meters each, along with crystal chandeliers in every single one and a phenomenal customer service contingency.

Standing 307 feet tall, the Old Post Office Building is one of the largest in the city and is blessed with some truly stunning panoramas from the upper-floors. As such, mind-blowing suites and penthouses are also expected to feature prominently in the new hotel.

Having been officially certified as “underused” for a number of years now, the project has largely been welcomed as a much-needed revamp to one of the city’s fast-fading treasures. It was back in February that the Trump Hotel Collection was officially awarded the project, though this week brings the first official details of what we can expect to see upon completion.

And not to strip the building of all its former glory, the hotel will be given the rather extensive handle of; Trump International Hotel, The Old Post Office Building. Development works are to begin in the second quarter of next year and the first reservations will be taken for a 2016 opening.

LG Launches Second TV Prank Ad – Creative and Convincing, If a Little Cruel

LG Launches Second TV Prank Ad – Creative and Convincing, If a Little CruelMost adverts have us either reaching for the sick-bags or gasping in amazement at how stupid US retailers seem to think we are. It’s not often therefore that an ad comes along that’s so out of the box we actually have to share it online and watch it a few times just to check if we saw what we actually thought we saw.

Well, LG has managed to serve up a pair in the latter category as of late, with this particular second installment being the daddy of the two for sure. Call it immature, call it infantile or call it plain wrong, it’s pretty difficult not to watch this baby for at least the first time and genuinely chuckle.

Deep reflection might have you thinking differently, but first time around you’ll laugh…trust us.

The first video saw hidden screens making it look like the floor of an elevator was falling out from under the feet of those riding in it. Funny yes, but it didn’t look realistic enough to have any of the victims show much more than a split-second jump before they realized it wasn’t real.

This time around though, the terror is real…unless they brought in actors, but we don’t think this is the case. A massive 82-inch Ultra HD TV set is placed within the wall to look like a window and displays a picture of the view from high above the city. Victims are led into the room and made to think they’re about to have a job interview, but they aren’t.

Instead, the TV shows what seems to be a meteor colliding with the Earth outside and basically bringing with it the end of all mankind. As soon as the ‘candidates’ see the meteor coming, they scream, panic, fall of their chairs, hide behind the desk and so on and so forth – they really do look like they’ve just see the end of the world…which they kind of have.

And of course, it’s all picked up by a load of hidden cameras so you can enjoy their terror from a variety of angles.

Of course, those made fun weren’t all blown away by the idea and didn’t react fondly when they were told they’d been set up. Nevertheless, they certainly helped LG prove its point about these undeniably impressive TV sets…not that we’d be able to afford one if we wanted to, anyway.

Take a look:


Retailers Report Strong August Sales, Admits Heavy Discounts Were Needed

Retailers Report Strong August Sales, Admits Heavy Discounts Were NeededRetailers across the US have for the most part reported excellent sales performance for August, though a large number admitted that winning over back-to-school shoppers demanded serious discounts and promotions. As such, concerns remain that the overall margin reports for the month won’t be nearly as strong.

The data collected also showed that in a market where the majority of spending is being directed at the homes and cars of consumers, clothing retailers were forced to offer the largest discounts of all. The difference between this summer and that of last year is clearly noticeable in terms of incentives offered, which according to economists confirms a widespread lack of interest in back-to-school spending.

Second only to the annual Christmas buying frenzy, the latter half of August represents one of America’s biggest shopping seasons.

Market analysts have suggested that part of the reason could be the way in which consumers in huge numbers are still trying to make the most of ongoing interest rates, investing in cars, homes and other major purchases while putting smaller retail buys on hold. Should the trend continue over the coming months, it doesn’t paint a promising picture for retailers looking to compensate over the Christmas period.

Next Toyota Prius Will be Lighter, Cheaper and Prettier – Automaker promises

Next Toyota Prius Will be Lighter, Cheaper and Prettier – Automaker promisesThe Toyota Prius wasn’t designed, developed or released to be the most exciting car on the roads – quite a deal from it in fact. Instead, it was created to bring hybrid engine technology to the masses in a way that was both affordable and appealing. However, next time around we could be looking at the biggest revolution in the history of the Prius to date, assuming of course the promises of Toyota bosses come off.

According to the automaker’s executives, the 2015 Toyota Prius will be lighter, cheaper, more fuel-efficient and more fun to drive than any of its predecessors. And from the look of the artist renderings we’ve seen to date, it will also be the prettiest.

Following in the same footsteps as the outgoing Prius, the 2015 model will according to Toyota up the ante in fuel-frugality once again by 10%. As the Prius making its exit serves up 50MPG on the combined cycle, we can therefore assume that the 2015 Prius will be good for 55MPG or better.

It was the firm’s engineering chief Satoshi Ogiso that made the claim this week, though didn’t seem willing to put give an exact figure the new Prius will be gunning for.

Ogiso told the world about the “advanced battery technology” to be used as standard in the new Prius, which along with various refinements to the engine and a refined electric motor will yield a “more compact package that is lighter in weight, and lower in cost.”

In addition, the next Prius will debut a series of “advanced safety technologies”, though again he didn’t go into any details regarding the specifics.

Consumer demand has apparently not slipped Toyota by either, as Ogiso went on to speak of further additions to the range being added.

“We have been listening very carefully to Prius plug-in owners over the past two years and are considering their request for additional all-electric range,” he said.

As far as the overall design of the new Prius goes, most of the spy shots to surface so far have painted a picture of minor tweaks and refinements only – the overall body shape has remained the same. However, artist renderings of a theoretical 2015 Prius suggest a rather more radical overhaul when the production model is signed-off on over the coming months.

As such, common sense would suggest a happy medium between the two, which in either case will result in an undeniably attractive unit

Over 3.5 million Prius vehicles have been sold since the 1997 debut of the first model – the 2015 model has quite the weight on its shoulders to say the least.

Tesla Rules Out Gas-Hybrid, Laughs Off BMW’s i8

Tesla Rules Out Gas-Hybrid, Laughs Off BMW’s i8Assuming it isn’t a clear-cut case of business spiel to mislead us, you can official cross off the idea of driving a Tesla hybrid anytime in the near future. Board executives for the firm have confirmed not only that Tesla customers will soon enjoy free-to-use nationwide charging stations for life, but also that any and all rumors of a Tesla hybrid are frankly ludicrous.

They also took the opportunity to turn their collective noses up at BMW’s attempt to score in the hybrid market.

The debate as to whether hybrids were in Tesla’s future has been long-winded to say the least. Some argued it was an inevitability as the firm moves forward, which it now appears is anything but the case.

“The reason is, a hybrid car is not an electric car. It’s a common misperception. You have the worst of both worlds in many cases, a gas engine and a battery, all the complexity, all the maintenance, all of the tradeoffs that occur in a hybrid car,” Tesla board member Steve Jurvetson told the Fox Business Network.

“Hybrid cars are not Tesla’s future.”

Point made pretty conclusively, but he also took the time to quote one CEO Elon Musk as saying that standard gas-electric hybrids are akin to “amphibians in a transition from dinosaurs to mammals.”

“It’s an interesting transition species. The reason people ask for it is that until you’ve driven an electric car, your perception is—and mine was as well—that I must need that ability to refuel, that I have to have that comfort of going to a gas station,” Jurvetson went on to say.

His remarks on the future of Tesla charging stations were however rather contradictory. He beamed about the way in which home-charging “changes your thinking” and he’d never even consider charging his own Tesla anywhere but at home, shortly before talking up the new network of “Supercharger” stations the firm is to open across the country.

Eventually, these charging facilities will span the country and allow Tesla vehicle owners to take long-distance journeys without the concern of losing power.

As far as the firm’s scoff at BMW went, Jurvetson said that he and Musk both found it quite hilarious that the German automaker was readying the BMW i8 hybrid.

“BMW itself said—and I’ve never heard any product release say this a year before its release—we’re not trying to make the best electric car, we’re building this vehicle because we have to for regulatory reasons,” he added.

“They’re basically they’re saying don’t judge us by this car and whether it’s any good or not a year before it’s released. It’s totally a different kind of product. It doesn’t have very good range and they’re putting in a gasoline lawnmower engine in there as a backup. It’s kind of an odd duck.”

Sony Close to Launching Streaming TV Service, Viacom Reportedly On-Board

Sony Close to Launching Internet TV Service, Viacom Reportedly On-BoardWord on the grapevine is that Sony is edging closer and closer to launching its first internet TV service, having apparently bagged Viacom with a huge contract. However, as compelling an idea as it may be in theory, analysts are already speaking of their distinct lack of optimism when predicting Sony’s future in the internet TV industry.

And it isn’t that Sony doesn’t have what it takes to launch a stunning service, but rather a case of all bases already being covered by rivals. The news came amidst an arsenal of rumors that internet TV services were also on the cards for other big names like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Intel to name just a few – Sony apparently isn’t the only powerhouse interested in the TV market.

Should an internet TV war kick off as the rumors certainly suggest, Sony might start out with a distinct advantage to give it a head-start. Sealing a deal with Viacom will undoubtedly work in Sony’s favor and could provide access to various top-level networks including MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.

There’s also talk that Sony is far from finalizing deals with other important partners, including Disney and Time Warner. If the deal with Viacom is struck and made official, it could encourage these and others to follow suit. Sony’s TV network could be streamed directly into the homes of anyone already in possession of a combatively piece of hardware, like various Sony TVs, laptops and games consoles.

Should Sony find a way of undercutting its rivals to a significant degree, there’s a strong chance the firm’s internet TV service will prove very attractive.

However, as far as the critics are concerned it isn’t quite as easy as readying a service that’s a cut above the services already on offer. They argue that consumers are just too comfortable and content with their current paid-TV services to suddenly up-sticks and head for Sony’s doors by the million.

The point is made that if the paid-TV industry were as easy to crack as this, players like Apple and Microsoft would have done it long ago.

The key to success lies in not only offering consumers lower prices than they are currently paying, but providing something that isn’t readily available already. And when you consider just how little is already missing from existing subscription TV services, you begin to understand why even a global brand like Sony might struggle.

Tesla Model S Excels in Crash Test, Earns Beyond Perfect Score

Tesla Model S Excels in Crash Test, Earns Beyond Perfect ScoreAs far as the team at Motor Trend is concerned, the Tesla Model S is a “gorgeous car and a packaging miracle.” And you can add the likes of Consumer Reports to the list too, which recently said that the same care serves up “pinpoint handling reminiscent of a Porsche.”

So when it comes to authoritative praise it seems the Tesla Model S is taking the cake and the biscuit from all corners, which will no doubt have CEO Elon Musk and Co. even more on the smug side than usual. Not that it isn’t well-deserved, as we’ve now been informed that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has added its name to glowing list of Tesla Model S worshippers.

There are plenty of vehicles that take home five-star safety ratings and proud they are of their achievements. Not one to soil its spotless track record however, the Tesla Model S managed to go one better by setting an all-new record with a rating that went beyond perfect.

“Safety levels better than 5 stars are captured in the overall Vehicle Safety Score provided to manufacturers,” according to the recent Tesla Motors statement.

“The Model S achieved a new combined record of 5.4 stars.”

This would be impressive enough if it only concerned the vehicles in the same class, but the way the Model S performed in various tests outpaced some of the vans and SUVs assumed to be the safest you can buy.

“The Model S has the advantage in the front of not having a large gasoline engine block, thus creating a much longer crumple zone to absorb a high speed impact,” the statement continued.

“The longer the crumple zone, the more time there is to slow down occupants at g loads that do not cause injuries.”

Tesla has long been considered the brand that flies the flag for the electric vehicle market in the US, having developed the kind of vehicle no rival brand yet seems to have been capable of – all despite no pedigree or experience in the industry. Critics and analyst are growing in confidence that once Tesla finds a way of offering the same quality vehicles for well-below the $50,000 mark, mainstream consumer success is a given.