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Company spotlight Ally Invest Built for investors who want to manage their own portfolios, Ally’s self-directed trading gives you all the tools you need to buy and trade stocks, optimize your portfolio and stay on top of the market, all without the need for... Read Reviews
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The holiday season is here and businesses across the country are gearing up for their biggest year yet. Retail sales growth is expected to be up 3.8 percent from last year according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). And despite the popularity of online shopping, physical brick-and mortar stores are expected to contribute the most with 91 percent of shoppers buying from a physical location. For the majority of retailers, the biggest earnings of the year happens in the 4th quarter during the holiday season. Considering that the stock market is at all-time highs and the U.S. economy is continuing on an upward trend, investors are anticipating a big year for retailers. The consumer gauge One of the biggest components of growth in the economy is consumer spending. And during the holidays, the post-Thanksgiving weekend tells the story of what investors can expect for the year. Black Friday has traditionally been the single largest shopping day of the year with retailers offering single day sales to entice consumers. But recent years have shown that another similar holiday is… Read more

The energy sector might be a cyclical industry in terms of stock performance, but the need for energy is something that will always exist. But with so many various forms of energy available, traders are left with a hard choice to make about where to invest. The political climate seems to shifting away from fossil fuels, like coal and oil, and favoring greener alternatives, like solar and wind. But tried-and-true methods still have plenty of pull globally with countries like China and India heavily reliant on coal and oil. In the United States, the coal industry appears to be in its death throes with technology making solar power more competitive, and in some cases cheaper, than coal. Despite the proclamations of the current political administration, coal isn't likely to make any real comeback. But as coal starts to be phased out of the modern energy infrastructure, there’s going to be a major vacuum that investors could potentially take advantage of. The rise of a new industry Coal's popularity in the energy industry has always been the low-cost relative to alternatives.… Read more

One of the most common rhetoric in American politics is the campaign promise to make the U.S. dollar strong. At face value, it sounds like anything that's strong should be a good thing, but globalization makes the answer tricky. The short answer of whether a strong dollar is good for the U.S. or not is – it depends. There are a variety of factors at play that make it a good thing or a bad thing. The issue is a political one, though most Americans wouldn’t be able to explain exactly how or why a strong dollar would be beneficial or detrimental to the economy. The case for a strong U.S. dollar A strong dollar translates to one thing – more purchasing power. Because the dollar is used as the primary international currency of choice and the fact that most Americans own their wealth in dollars, a rise in its value would be a good thing. Consumers' money would go further with imported goods, since they would be relatively cheaper compared to the country or origin's currency. For non-U.S. citizens,… Read more

It's one thing to understand the concept of buying and selling stocks, but successfully putting that concept into actual practice means understanding how trade orders work. Different types of trade orders tell a broker how to execute a trade. There's more than one strategy that can work and it all depends on what type of trade you want to do. Instead of relying on market forces entirely when it comes to placing a trade, you can use stop and limit orders to narrow down price points and ensure the best possible deal. There's no worse feeling than placing an order to buy or sell a stock at a price you want, only to have it come through later at a price you didn't want. How to use stop and limit orders in your portfolio A general stock order is known as a market order. When a market order is placed, you are essentially telling your broker to buy or sell a stock, but you don't specify a particular price. Thus the actual price you buy or sell at could differ from… Read more

Bonds are considered one of the most essential parts of a well-balanced investment portfolio, but most investors are lost as to how bonds actually work. Even experienced investors only hold bonds as part of a mutual fund and don't actually own bonds directly. Unlike stocks, bonds are valued both by their face value as well as their interest payments. Navigating these two benefits can be difficult, which is why they say bond investors are the smartest guys on Wall Street. But bonds can be understood by even beginning investors, all it takes is the right tools to be successful. Bond basics Bonds pay a yield semi-annually but are generally displayed on an annual basis to avoid confusion. Other than the interest rate, bonds also have a face value that can rise or fall based on market conditions and interest rates. Finally, the time left until the bond matures, or pays the full face value, is part of how a bond is priced. The further away the maturation date, the more sensitive to interest rates it will be. One of the… Read more