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Company spotlight Scottrade One of the most recognized and respected names in stock and commodities trading, Scottrade has been developing industry-standard tools for over three decades. The company offers several trading platforms and research tools, which could help you stay informed and ahead... Read Reviews
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Investors have always looked for an edge in the marketplace. Any detail, no matter how small, if it could predict future stock movements is an advantage. Aside from he obvious like economic data and stock returns, one element in particular carries a lot of weight when it comes to predicting stock market corrections and crashes. Trading activity can reveal a lot about the economy – in particular, how leverage and margin accounts are used. Investors with an appetite for risk use leveraged strategies to boost returns by borrowing money at a predetermined interest rate and using it to invest at a higher rate of return. When margin is high, it generally means that investors have a large risk appetite and are bullish about the future. But it also means there's far more volatility in the market and a lot more debt. Any slight downward correction when margins are high can mean dramatic declines or even crashes as investors desperately seek to cover their loans by selling out of their positions. How margin acts as a prognosticator Margin levels in the… Read more

It's no secret that commodities have been an outcast asset class for years now. The three year annualized return on the Dow Jones Commodity Index is -12.14% with investors steering clear of anything related to commodities like steel, aluminum, coal, and especially oil. The strength of the US dollar has acted as a further headwind for commodities, and with interest rates on the rise the dollar should remain strong. The slowing Chinese economy left a demand vacuum in the commodities space with no other economies with strong enough demand to make up for it. While investors have been looking at possible alternative countries like India for a replacement, it seems that any real commodity revival will have to come from some other source. But despite all the headwinds, some commodities could see gains next year. A new President means a new political administration and policies that could benefit certain sectors of the US economy over others. For value investors, these commodities could be surprise winners for 2017: Aluminum Typically associated with a growing manufacturing base, aluminum has been a bit… Read more

Bonds aren't the most popular investment to talk about. Investors tend to view them much like a side of broccoli in a steak dinner. The steak (stocks) may garner all the attention, but experienced investors know that it takes a balanced portfolio to be financially healthy. Maybe you can speak at length about the prospects of XYZ stock or discuss in detail how its valuation multiple makes it an attractive buy right now, but the moment someone mentions bonds, your eyes glaze over and you tune out of the conversation. You aren't alone. The bond market is arguably the most misunderstood market on Wall Street simply due to a lack of basic bond know-how. Once you understand what a bond is and how it's valued, you'll be able to speak about and invest in bonds with confidence. Debt isn't all bad A bond is a loan issued to governments or corporations that comes with a fixed interest rate over a preset period of time. It works exactly the same as when you take out a loan to finance the purchase… Read more

The markets have predicted a 50-50 chance that the Fed will raise rates again this December and investors are on the fence as to how this could benefit them. The election cycle has complicated matters leaving many investors on the sidelines until the vote comes in and uncertainty abates a little in the markets. Last December the Fed raised the Federal Funds rate by 0.25% marking the first increase since 2006 in what was widely believed to be a series of hikes. However, the markets plummeted early in 2016 following the hike and the Fed's statements have changed from hawkish to dovish with little consistency. Keeping a rate hike on a set schedule is critical to maintaining stability in the markets, but another rate hike in December without seeing a rise in inflation could also tip the scales in a bearish direction. Regardless of the Fed's decision next month, investors need to have their portfolio's prepared for the worst while still positioning it to take advantage of any potential gains. The relationship between interest rates and stocks Interest rates impact… Read more

There's no worse feeling than watching a stock in your portfolio drop in value day after day with no end in sight. If it falls less than 10%, you say the markets are just going through a small correction. After it drops 20% you tell yourself that it must have finally bottomed, but when it keeps falling you may start to panic. There's one inevitable truth all investors must face – eventually you will own a losing asset. The key to successful investing isn't knowing when to buy a stock, it's knowing when to sell it. That holds true whether the stock goes up or down but understanding when you need to cut a losing investment loose is what separates great investors from good ones. It comes down to simple math. If a stock drops 10%, you need to gain 11.11% in order to break even. After a 20% loss the breakeven point jumps to 25% and if it has lost 50%, it'll need to double in value just to prevent a loss. In order to make a rational decision… Read more