George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

July 23, 2014

Waiting for something to happen. Stocks seem to be meandering these days, as they often do during the summer, waiting for something to happen that will move the markets one way or the other. Any selling -- as was the case last Thursday when the Dow industrials dipped 161 points after the crash of the Malaysia airliner -- is usually followed by opportunistic buying. For the time being, the markets will be reacting to earnings reports, one at a time.

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Waiting for something to happen. Stocks seem to be meandering these days, as they often do during the summer, waiting for something to happen that will move the markets one way or the other.

The report gathering the most attention is the earnings update from Apple. The shares are up a couple of bucks and a new 52-week high based on higher profits. It is always interesting to look at sales of individual products at Apple. For instance, the company sold 35.2 million iPhones in the second quarter, up 4 million from the previous period. However, sales of iPads dropped by 9 percent to 13.3 million units, a decline that was expected. The company also announced it has received a patent for the iTime, a wristwatch expected to hit the streets in October, just in time for the start of the holiday shopping season. CEO Tim Cook said he is very excited about "new products and services we can't wait to introduce." Of course, MarketWatch.com made their lead headline, "Apple shares are at risk of an autumn disappointment."

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The National Retail Federation is reporting today that the second half of this year will see a significant pickup in shopping activity after a slower-than-expected first half. "No retailer was immune to the doldrums witnessed during the first quarter, and as a result, the year's growth trajectory was impacted. That said, there is plenty of evidence that the second half of the year will be better for the industry as consumers begin to feel more optimistic about their spending decisions," NRF CEO Matthew Shay said. The group is anticipating that retail sales will grow by at least 3.9 percent during the last six months of 2014.

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Golf-related products don't seem to be on the shopping list for a lot of folks. Dick's Sporting Goods announced yesterday that it is letting go about 400 employees who were professional golf instructors available to provide individual instructions to customers in its various stores. Turns out, people weren't all that interested. Dick's goes have a great golf section in most stores -- it's just not very busy and the company has decided to reduce that part of their stores and use the area for youth sports and other items.

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How low are interest rates? RateWatch.com this morning reports that the average rate on a three-month CD offered at financial institutions dropped to 0.14 percent in the past week. If you stretch out the maturity to five years, the rate soars to 1.15 percent. Considering inflation is running at a rate of about 2.1 percent, after the impact of taxes and inflation, you are actually losing money because the buying power of your dollars is declining.

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Did you notice something different about Chase Headley when he took the field for the first time yesterday as a New York Yankee? The former Padre was clean-shaven, no facial hair allowed for Yankee players. Just my opinion, but it seems rather refreshing to see guys who look like ball players and not actors in a slasher movie. Of course, a full beard does not affect their playing abilities -- it just seems kind of silly for guys making millions of dollars.

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