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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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  President Trump recently announced a trade tariff imposed on steel and aluminum imports aimed primarily at China. It places a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum, which is designed to combat the US trade deficit and protect domestic steel and aluminum production. However, steel companies immediately tanked following the announcement, while other nations voiced their concerns over the tariffs and the effect it will have on other industries and trade agreements. But there's a bigger issue involved with tariffs that isn't so obvious -- and its effect could have lasting consequences on the US economy and stock market. The role of the tariff Tariffs are designed to protect domestic industries which may be suffering due to a foreign competitor. In theory, if competition is strong enough, it could impact the domestic workforce and lead to layoffs and increased unemployment. Tariffs are also used as a type of trade weapon. For example, if a country unfairly taxes or places a tariff on one country's exported goods, they might turn around and place a retaliatory tariff on that… Read more

Investors are constantly searching for ways to predict market behavior. They pour over any and all evidence looking for patterns and indicators that might help them spot opportunities or avoid costly mistakes. Some of these correlations are noted in lagging, current, or future economic indicators such as employment levels, GDP data, retail sales, and others. But there are few indicators that investors can look at to predict future crashes with any real degree of accuracy. However, there is one oft-ignored piece of data that investors can use as a potential warning sign – the margin debt level. It tells investors how much leverage is currently being applied in the markets by calculating how much debt is being used in brokerage accounts. The more leverage that investors use, the riskier the position. If the market begins to decline, investors will scramble to sell as fast as possible to reduce the total amount of loss, often creating a panic resulting in large corrections or even a full recession. Margin levels and market crashes There's a historical correlation between high margin debt levels and market… Read more

Investors generally think of options as a tool to boost profits by speculating on whether a stock will move higher or lower. And while options can be used in that manner, they can also be used to hedge a portfolio and actually reduce risk. Options come in two forms: calls and puts. A call gives investors the right, but not the obligation to purchase 100 shares of stock, while a put gives investors the right, but not the obligation to sell 100 shares of stock. You can also sell calls and puts, which mean you have the obligation to sell or buy at a specific price, should the option be exercised, while keeping any profits from the upfront sale. Used separately or in combination, these four option types can keep your portfolio's returns as high as possible, while keeping risk as low as possible. Simple option strategies you can employ to reduce risk One of the most commonly used option strategies is also one of the best risk-reduction tools available to everyday investors – the covered call. A covered call… Read more

Investing when inflation is a concern usually leads to a more volatile marketplace. Not only is inflation a pernicious profit-erasing force, it's also highly misunderstood by investors. Inflation and uncertainty seem to go hand-in-hand, but investors who understand what inflation's real impact is could find themselves taking advantage of big opportunities. On the surface, inflation is a relatively easy concept to understand. It dilutes the value of the dollar over time, so purchasing power goes down as a result. The only real way to combat inflation is to earn a return in excess of the rate of inflation. There are several ways to accomplish this, and it all depends on how high the inflation is and how fast it's rising. Inflationary investing Inflation's impact on the stock market is somewhat mixed. One of the first things inflation does is cause interest rates to rise, which in turn negatively impacts bond prices. Normally bond prices and stock prices are positively correlated, so one might think that when bond prices go down, stocks should as well. But in practice, this relationship doesn't… Read more

There's no worse feeling than checking your portfolio and discovering the market is in the midst of a panicked sell-off. Watching a stock (or many stocks) you own drop further and further with no discernible end in sight can be a heart-wrenching experience. But, like all things, sell-offs are only temporary. While broad market selling can be disconcerting for any investor, successful investors understand how to navigate the rapids and avoid making costly mistakes. Your first reaction might be to sell your holdings as soon as possible to avoid taking even greater losses, but history has demonstrated that that might be the worst possible decision you can make at that time. While selling a stock might be necessary, there are better methods for dealing with turbulent markets. Don't panic Noted CNBC personality Jim Cramer has a saying about volatile markets, “No one ever made a dime by panicking.” Other investors have a similar take on the subject, like Warren Buffett, who says when everyone else is selling, that's when you want to be buying. But you don't have to be… Read more