Did Amazon Just Jump The Shark?

Online retailer Amazon.com stunned the investment world on Friday with the announcement that it had entered into a merger agreement with bricks and mortar grocery store chain Whole Foods. The stock market swiftly by ruthlessly punishing the shares of the traditional grocery store chains. But while investors are busy celebrating how the world of grocery retailing as suddenly been transformed, it is reasonable to consider whether Amazon has simply jumped the proverbial shark with this acquisition.

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Blood In The Streets: Retail Edition

The retail industry has been absolutely demolished as of late. Blood is still flowing through the streets as these crushing declines keep coming day after day. But given the staggering magnitude of the recent retail drop, it is reasonable to consider when it might be the time to consider stepping in to buy.

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The Consumer Mirage

It has been a common refrain over the last several weeks since the recent market bottom in late September. Sure, global economies outside the U.S. are continuing to struggle as evidenced by the fact that their central banks are compelled to ease even further. But the story in the United States is one of contrast and relative strength, which is supported by the fact that the U.S. Federal Reserve is feeling confident enough to begin the process of normalizing interest rates before the end of the year. And supporting the strong domestic economic thesis is the apparent vigor of the U.S. consumer, highlighted by the strength and leadership of consumer discretionary stocks during the recent stock price rebound. Perhaps, but if price is indeed truth, the apparent strength of the American consumer might just be a mirage.

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The Stock Sectors Set To Streak Into 2015

The Fed’s QE3 stimulus program is scheduled to finally come to an end in November 2014 after an extended period of tapering. Recent history suggests that this does not bode well for the U.S. stock market, which has struggled when standing naked without the crutch of Fed stimulus in the post crisis period. But not all stocks are created equally. For while many stock sectors certainly trailed along with the broader market without the steady flood of liquidity from the Fed, a select few demonstrated the ability to hold up well. Some even showed the ability to achieve solid gains. And while history may not necessarily repeat itself the next time around, these previously winning sectors may warrant some extra attention as QE3 draws to a close and we streak toward 2015.

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Where The Bear Market Is Already Underway

The U.S. stock market remains incredibly resilient. The S&P 500 Index continues in a sustained uptrend despite an extended period of consolidation since the beginning of March and is currently just 1% below its all-time high. But despite this headline strength, all is not necessarily well with the stock market, as some disconcerting signs of weakness have emerged including notable declines in the Nasdaq, U.S. small caps and biotechs in recent months. Perhaps even more importantly, one market segment in particular that resides near the very heart of the U.S. stock market is dealing with a mauling bear market that has already been unleashed.

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