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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 stock market has continued its long bull run, up nearly 14 percent year-to-date. It's the second longest bull market in history, which was born in March 2009 following the Great Recession. And it's that longevity that has investors wondering – when will it end? Despite setbacks, like the oil crash prompted by OPEC's war on U.S. shale and the subsequent deal to cut production in order to lift prices again, the current bull market has continued on unfettered. But there are cracks showing that could bring about the start of a new bear market. Whether those cracks will widen this year or next is still debatable. Obstacles in the Markets Stocks have climbed without stumbling much so far this year. There hasn't been any sign of a correction and any negative news seems to get absorbed by investors without blinking. But investor confidence may be misplaced. One of the most often quoted indexes on Wall Street is the VIX Volatility Index, commonly referred to as the "fear gauge." Anything over 20 is considered volatile, while anything under 15 is… Read more

Dividend paying stocks are usually popular choices for risk-tolerant and risk-adverse investors alike. For the risk-tolerant, dividend yielding stocks can help diversify against loss while providing extra income to boost returns. For the risk-adverse, the same stocks lower overall risk in the portfolio and provide a steady stream of income and returns, instead of chasing big gains and risking equally large losses. Usually investors think of bonds and treasuries when a conservative portfolio is discussed instead of stocks. And when stocks are included, only dividend yielding ones are screened for. But dividends aren't the only path conservative investors have when it comes to equities. There are plenty of other stock types to consider when building a defensive or conservative portfolio without having to turn to other assets, like bonds and treasuries. Don't count out stocks when it comes to building a defensive portfolio While dividend payers are a no-brainer for investors that seek hedging strategies or defensive stocks, there are several other things to consider before making a decision. Things like having a large market capitalization, stock buyback programs and… Read more

Successful investors know that due diligence and strategic planning are necessary to stay ahead of the curve. Over time, you may find that you've developed certain rules that help you invest better and make smarter decisions. If so, you might already know some or all of these three essential rules. If you don't, you should consider adding them to your list. Here are 3 simple rules that every successful investor swears by. Brand Name Matters The first rule is simple – brand name matters. The best-in-breed companies are best for a reason. There's a similar saying in real estate, as well – don't buy the best house if it's in a bad neighborhood. Value investors are often guilty of ignoring this rule because they confuse undervalued companies with second-rate companies. A strong brand name company or stock is a top pick for a number of reasons. They generally have a large market share, sell a product or service that is in demand and are owned by institutional investors. This makes them very competitive relative to their peers and will generally… Read more

Economic sectors might be one of the cornerstones of diversity, but they aren't timeless. In fact, sectors are born and die over time as technology and consumer habits change. Investors need to be aware of industries and emerging trends that could mean the beginning or end of an industry, or else find themselves lagging behind in a dying business. Long gone are the days of the seeing the milkman in your neighborhood making deliveries or talking to the switchboard operator when making a call. Those jobs were replaced by automation and other business innovations decades ago. As an investor, having a long term investment horizon is usually the best advice, but it also means you need to be extra diligent when making your portfolio selections. Unlike stocks that dip down temporarily and eventually go higher, industries that face extinction don't usually recover. You need to be careful and avoid investing in an industry that could be on its way out. Endangered Industries 1. Transportation IoT (Internet of Things) is a game-changing new technology that allows machines and programs to communicate and operate… Read more

The financial markets are fickle things that overreact to virtually any new information. Some movements are relatively easy to predict, such as when GDP data comes in higher or lower than expected. Others are more tricky. The Federal Reserve, an institution designed to maximize employment and control inflation, has become more influential in the markets over the past decade or so, following its quantitative easing program. Investors keep careful watch on what the Fed does and says because it impacts interest rates. And those, in turn, affect almost every corner of the markets, from the value of the United States dollar to stock valuations to bond prices. But it's not as intuitive as one might think. The interest rate effect Interest rates essentially exist for two reasons: the time value of money and inflation. The time value of money says that money now is worth more than money later. If someone loaned out $10,000, they would charge some type of interest rate for it. This makes sense because of the opportunity cost of not applying that money to something that… Read more