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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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Energy is a global need that will always be in demand in some way or another. It's not a defensive sector like consumer staples or utilities though – energy is highly cyclical and tied to global economic supply and demand. As such, energy companies tend to undergo regular ups and downs along the business cycle. The energy sector has largely been the realm of oil, gas, and coal, while green energy has been relegated to speculative investments fit for those with a high risk tolerance. A few years ago, green energy like solar was a daily headline, but since OPEC began cutting oil production and oil prices began to rise again, alternatives have fallen by the wayside. But alternative energy isn't gone – in fact it's the only obvious long-term choice for global sustainability. With the coal industry gasping its last breath, green energy companies are poised to take over the power vacuum that coal will leave behind. Predicting the future of energy Since the advent of the industrial age, coal has been the primary energy source for every country.… Read more

There's few things more exciting for an investor than being one of the first to own shares of a newly issued stock. Oftentimes these stocks can climb quickly, resulting in gains of 10%, 20%, 50% or more in a short amount of time – in a matter of weeks or even days. But they can also turn the other way and never again find themselves at the same value of their original issue price. While finding a fair value for a stock that's been trading for years is relatively easy to pinpoint, trying to analyze a stock with no trading history is more difficult. There's no regression analysis that can be done and no historical earnings record to pour over. However, that doesn't mean a fair valuation can't be found – one just needs to know how to apply the metrics. Finding a fair value for a new stock An IPO (initial public offering) is what happens when a company sells shares of stock and becomes publicly traded. The company will then use that capital to invest in capital infrastructure… Read more

  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