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Companies continue to reduce their outstanding share counts and boost earnings per share even as they spend less money on buybacks than in the recent past.

In 2015, S&P 500 companies spent $561 billion on share buybacks, the highest level since 2007, when they spent $721 billion. However, repurchase authorizations have slowed so far this year, falling by 53% year to date, according to a Goldman Sachs note.

Share buybacks boost earnings per share by reducing the number of shares outstanding, while the sharp uptick in demand can also give share prices a lift. Buybacks have accounted for much of the flow into equity markets over the past several years, and are credited with helping boost the S&P 500 to record levels in 2015. Continue reading

If you’re buying stocks because a bullish “golden cross” chart pattern appeared in the S&P 500 on Monday, it could take months to pay off.

And history suggests that the longer you wait, the more you stand to make.

A so-called golden cross is formed when the 50-day simple moving average, which many use to follow the short-term trend, crosses above the widely watched 200-day moving average, which is seen as tracking the long-term trend. Many chart watchers believe this pattern implies that a shorter-term rebound has transitioned into a longer-term trend.

The S&P 500’s Continue reading

Treasury prices fell Monday for the sixth straight session, pushing yields to their highest level in over a month, as investors braced for a Federal Reserve meeting starting Tuesday that could offer guidance on the Fed’s future monetary policy.

Investors have essentially ruled out an interest-rate hike at the Fed’s meeting. A closely watched measure of the market’s Fed expectations, the CME Group’s FedWatch Tool, indicates a 0% probability of a rate increase in April and a 23% probability of a rate increase in June.

But even as the market expects the Fed to maintain its recently adopted dovish stance, Treasury yields have been on a constant uptrend over the past few sessions mainly due to moves in so-called risk assets, Continue reading

Saudi Arabia on Monday said that it plans to make itself capable of living without oil within the next four years—a very ambitious goal for a country that exports more of the energy source than anyone else in the world.

The kingdom approved a long-term blueprint for economic reform dubbed “Saudi Vision 2030,” which aims to reduce the country’s dependence on oil revenues. It’ll be quite a challenge for a nation that still saw about 70% of last year’s revenue come from petroleum despite the steep drop in prices since mid-2014.

“By 2020, we’ll be able to live without oil,” Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who heads the economic council, told Saudi new channel Al-Arabiya in an interview aired Monday. He also Continue reading

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As of this past week, we have seen the S&P 500 rally 300 points off the February lows, a 40%-plus rally in the two emerging markets upon which I have been primarily focused — Brazil and Russia, and precious metals have bottomed and begun the strongest rally we have seen in years, which is suggestive of a long-term bottom being struck. So, has the global melt-up which we expected begun?

Back Continue reading

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Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, participates in a panel discussion at a 2009 Clinton Global Initiative gathering in New York.

Investment-banking powerhouse Goldman Sachs Inc. is doing something that would have been unthinkable before the financial crisis.

The banker to the biggest companies around the world is offering online savings accounts to ordinary Americans with as little Continue reading

If this week’s earnings calendar feels more overwhelming than usual, that’s because it is.

As many as 900 companies will report results this week, including 183 members of the S&P 500, according to Zacks Research. By Friday, a full 60% of the S&P 500 will have reported. Last week, 14 members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, -0.15%

 reported, or nearly half of that Continue reading