Archive for Currency

Bitcoin’s Short-Term Bearish Reversal

There is little doubt that bitcoin prices have been a bit frothy, with the NYSE Bitcoin Index (NYXBT) rising more than 890% since the start of the year. Over the past several months, the cryptocurrency and its blockchain technology have drawn positive feedback from the traditional banking sector, which sparked hopes that the currency might go mainstream. This was validated to some extent when the Nasdaq​ announced plans to launch bitcoin futures contracts next year.

The steep fall in bitcoin prices could be a “sell-the-news” response to the Nasdaq’s move to add bitcoin futures contracts to its offerings next year. In addition, there are some concerns that bitcoin futures could make it easier to short sell the cryptocurrency. Short selling can help make markets more efficient by enabling traders and investors to bet against overvalued assets, which could add downward pressure to the asset. (See also: TradeStation Already Seeing Demand for Bitcoin Futures.)

Bitcoin prices fell sharply on Thursday in what could become a short-term or long-term reversal. …read more

Read more here: Bitcoin’s Short-Term Bearish Reversal

Category: NYXBT

Pick the best travel credit card like a pro

 

Travel rewards have become about much more than just earning airline miles, and if you’ve been carrying the same card for years, you might be missing out on better rewards for the same or lower fee as banks and airlines fight for your business.

If you don’t want to think much, and just want one card with a good offer, a comparison site like MileCards.com will let you enter your spending habits and tell you which cards earn you the most miles, or you can browse a list of the best travel credit cards.

But travel pros who have racked up millions of miles diversify their loyalty to reap the most rewards.

Gary Leff, an air travel expert who writes the View From the Wing blog, suggests three reasons to get a card. The first reason is the sign on bonus, which can offer significant value. The second is to take advantage of perks offered by the card, including free bags and priority boarding. And third, you should use a card that lets you rack up miles most quickly based on your spending pattern.

Very few cards offer do all three of these things well, so experts often hold more than one credit card to get the most out of things.

For example, many of the airline branded cards offer a first free checked bag. If you tend to use the same airline a couple times a year and check a bag, you can save the annual fee in bag fees, plus get perks like priority boarding. But these cards rarely offer you the most miles for every dollar you spend.

Instead, consider putting your spending on a card that earns transferable points, while keeping the airline card for the perks.

Transferable points are a favorite of Brian Kelly, founder of The Points Guy blog. They let you book travel two ways. First, you can transfer them into real airline miles with several airlines. Second, you can choose to use them like cash to book flights on any airline.

That makes them really flexible – you can add to the miles you’ve earned by flying, or you can use them like cash if you don’t want to deal with the rules of airline miles for a trip. Chase, American Express, and Citibank each have cards that offer transferable points. Many offer special bonuses on spending categories like dining and gas, so they can earn points more quickly than a single airline card.

Regardless of what card you choose – get to know the benefits. Many travel credit cards offer coverage that’s similar to the travel insurance airlines and travel agencies will try to sell you. You could be reimbursed if you need to cancel a trip because you get very ill, or get covered for a hotel if your flight gets delayed. There’s no extra charge – just book your flight with the card to activate the coverage. These benefits aren’t …read more

Read more here: Pick the best travel credit card like a pro

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Starbucks’ Surprise Pay Raise Comes With A Catch

Starbucks announced last week it will increase employee wages in the U.S. on Oct. 3 as part of an “ongoing commitment to make investments in our partners” and build trust, CEO Howard Schultz wrote in an open letter. But some employees won’t be getting as much of a raise as they might have expected.

The company — recently the target of an online petition about declining morale among workers due to labor cuts — confirmed to BuzzFeed News Wednesday that the raise in October “is an expedited wage increase for fiscal 2017” and “there will be no additional increase in January.” The company’s scheduled pay raises normally happen early in the calendar year.

“That’s disappointing, but not unexpected,” said Jaime Prater, the Starbucks worker who organized the petition (which now has gained more than 13,000 signatures). “Typically, when Starbucks gives something, they take away something else.” Many baristas, for instance, complained that after the company announced raises in late 2014, they only received a flat pay bump once a year, compared to twice-a-year merit raises previously.

Following last week’s announcement — which also included improved stock and healthcare benefits — some Starbucks workers expressed concern about how the company would deal with the regularly scheduled pay increase. “Does this take the place of our raise in January or do we get that as well?” one Facebook user asked. “Is the October increase in lieu of our January raise or in addition too?” wrote another. Others said they did not expect the October raise to exceed upcoming minimum wage increases in their area.

Still, Schultz’s letter drew many positive responses. Starbucks spokeswoman Jaime Riley said because the raise will be moved up a few months, the October pay bump will be an additional partner investment for Starbucks.

“People are happy to know they will get a minimum increase of 5%, and that it is coming sooner” than 2017, she said. “People are excited. We’ve gotten positive feedback.” Riley added that the company understands there are still partner concerns and is working with employees to resolve them.

Starbucks Staff Are Getting A Raise After Claims Morale Is SinkingBaristas Say Morale At Starbucks Is Sinking

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Read more here: Starbucks’ Surprise Pay Raise Comes With A Catch

Category: TGT

Adobe Systems Well Positioned For All-time Highs (ADBE, AAPL)

Adobe Systems may offer a buying opportunity in the upper 80s, ahead of a strong rally into triple digits.

Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE) has provided quiet Nasdaq-100 and big tech leadership for more than four years and is currently one of its hottest performers, trading near an all-time high. The stock transacts just 3.6-million shares per day on average, near the midpoint of index activity, while a $47-billion market capitalization takes the 26th spot among the 104 current components.

It’s now achieved the status of the must-own position in tech and growth portfolios, posting stronger gains than widely held Apple Inc. (AAPL) since 2011, rising more than 400% compared to AAPL’s 207%. It’s also better positioned to resume its strong uptrend after a volatile first quarter dropped the iPhone maker into the midpoint of a massive 22-month trading range.

Is now a good time to buy ADBE, given its lofty position, or should market players wait for aselloff that offers a more advantageous reward: risk ratio? Fortunately, first quarter earnings won’t impact that decision because the company already reported on March 17, with the next confessional scheduled for June. Given this beneficial timing, charting technicals should take precedence in determining the best time and price to add this winner to your portfolio.

The stock entered a powerful uptrend in 1998, rising from 2.95 (post three stock splits) to 43.65 in just two years. It topped out in November 2000 and joined the rest of the tech universe in a severe bear market, spiraling lower in three selling waves that relinquished more than 80% of the prior rally. It finally bottomed out in single digits in the summer of 2002.

The subsequent recovery reached to the prior high in 2006, but the rally momentum fizzled out, yielding sideways action into a minor 2007 breakout that added just 5 points. It turned lower in a failed breakout just one month later, entering a downtrend that coincided with the 2008 to 2009 bear market. The decline ended at a 5-year low near 16 in March 2009, giving wave to a renewed uptrend that remains in force, more than seven years later.

It took four years for the stock to reach horizontal resistance generated by the 2000 and 2007 highs. A 5-month basing pattern yielded a 2013 breakout that attracted widespread buying interest, lifting price into a series of all-time highs. The last rally wave peaked at 96 in December 2016, setting up major resistance in triple digits.

 

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Category: ADBE, AAPL

Why bots are the new apps

By The Economist online
“YOU are a developer and you’ve just spent two weeks writing this amazing app. What is your dream? Your dream is to get it in front of every iPhone user.” That was how Steve Jobs, then Apple’s boss, introduced an online shop for smartphone apps eight years ago. At first few paid it much heed, but it launched one of the fastest growing software markets ever. Since then, over 100 billion apps have been downloaded, generating $40 billion in revenues for developers and billions more in subscriptions and other fees.

At a conference on April 12th in San Francisco, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s boss, is expected to make a similar announcement. He will probably unveil an online shop and coding tools for “chatbots”. These are text-based services which let users complete tasks such as checking news, organising meetings, ordering food or booking a flight by sending short messages. Bots are usually powered by artificial intelligence (hence the name, as in “robot”), but may also rely on humans. Many in the technology industry hope that Facebook’s event will mark the beginning of another fast-growing, multi-billion dollar software economy. Are bots the new…

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Read more here: Why bots are the new apps

Category: Business and finance, Approved, Business and finance, Business

7 Spending Trends That Speak Volumes About U.S. Consumers

By Money Talks News
How we spend our hard-earned money can be quite revealing.

“To some extent, we are what we buy,” explains Money.

Some products experience surging sales after a strong marketing campaign, a dramatic shift in price or the endorsement of a popular celebrity – have you heard of the “Oprah Effect”? But often the rush to buy is the result of shifting U.S. demographics.

The seven hot-selling items in a list compiled by Money reflect the latter. Check out where U.S. consumer dollars are flowing and what that reveals about Americans today:

Legal weed: With more states legalizing marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes, the cannabis industry has experienced explosive growth. Legal pot sales reached $5.4 billion in the United States in 2015, a 17.4 percent spike over 2014. Pot sales are expected to hit $6.7 billion this year – in turn generating healthy tax revenues in states that allow it.

Canadian goods: When the value of the U.S. dollar rises compared with the Canadian currency as it has recently (the current rate is US$1 = C$1.32) many Americans flock across the northern border to shop. Money said the number of U.S. visitors to Canada shot up by 1.6 million during the first 11 months of 2015, and that number is expected to keep climbing this year.

Guns: Anxiety caused by mass shootings and fears that they will lead to more restrictive gun laws have sparked record-breaking gun sales in the United States in recent years. Check out “Gun-Buying Rush Swamps FBI Background Checkers.”

Anything that can be bought on a phone (or tablet): Mobile shopping and spending soared 60 percent from 2014 to 2015. With retailers shifting more of their focus to mobile consumers, it’s likely that number will only continue to increase in 2016.

Streaming service subscription: Regardless of whether they stream video or music, streaming service subscriptions are on the rise. Netflix, Hulu, Spotify and Amazon Prime, just to name a few, are continually increasing their customer base.

Bowls: That’s right. “Bowls are the new plates,” the The Wall Street Journal recently announced, noting that moving from plates to bowls signals a shift to a more casual lifestyle. Money noted that many health-conscious trendsetters are trading in their plates for bowls while restaurants are also moving towards bowl-friendly entrees. Money said bowl sales from dish companies like Fiesta increased by 17 percent last year.

Adult diapers: With Americans living longer these days and many seniors struggling with incontinence problems, it’s really no surprise that adult diapers are flying off the shelves. Money said adult diaper sales are expected to grow by 48 percent globally by 2020. Compare that with baby diaper sales, which are expected to experience a much more modest growth of 2.6 percent in the next four years.

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5 Places to Travel While the Dollar Is Strong

By Nick Wharton…

Travel isn’t cheap, but when the dollar is 15%-55% stronger against other currencies than it has been in over a decade, now is the time to travel! Not everywhere is a good value at this time. Some other currencies are flourishing just like the USD, so if you want to find strong-dollar discounts, you have to know where to look. Here are five amazing places to visit that are far less expensive than they have been in a recent five-year history thanks to a strong U.S. dollar.

Note: All currency conversions are based on XE.com’s historical data. The current exchange rates may have changed since this article was published. Daily budgets and average hotel costs were calculated using numbeo.com’s travel index tool.

1. South Africa ($1 USD = 15 ZAR)

Five years ago, you would have only gotten 6.73 Rand for your dollar, but now you’ll feel more than twice as rich in South Africa. There has never been a better time to go on an African safari. In 2010, entrance to South Africa’s biggest park (Kruger National Park) would have cost $23.77 (160 ZAR), but now, you can watch lions, zebras and elephants roam free for just $17.50 (264 ZAR)!

A four-day luxury lodge safari trip in Kruger National park is around 15,000 ZAR. In 2010, that would have been $2,225 USD, but today it’s only around $965 USD!

A budget room in a guest house (known as a “backpacker” in South Africa) will cost you about 385 ZAR. In 2010, that equated to $57 a night, but today you’ll pay just over $25 for the same room.

The Math

  • Midrange Daily Budget: 500 ZAR / Day
  • This daily budget based on 2010 conversion: $74 / Day
  • This daily budget thanks to today’s dollar: $33 / Day
  • Savings of: 55%
  • Current Exchange: 1 USD = 15 ZAR
  • 5 Year High: 16.00
  • 5 Year Low: 6.56

2. Russia ($1 USD = 70 RUB)

The beautiful city of Moscow, the churches of St.Petersburg, and the world’s greatest train journey have never been so affordable. The Russian ruble fell drastically at the end of 2014, and while this isn’t great for Russians, it is excellent for those of us who have always wanted to visit this vast and beautiful country.

The average price of a midrange hotel in Moscow is around 3,500 RUB. In 2010, that would have been $116, but today that is less than $50.

One of the most legendary train journeys on the planet, the Trans-Siberian, is now a better value than it has been in the past few decades. The trip from Moscow to Ulan Bator will run you around 35,000 Rubles for a first class ticket. At Christmas time in 2010, that would have been $1,160, but with today’s exchange it’s just $498! You can buy two tickets today, for the same price as one ticket would have cost you at the end of 2014. Incredible.

The Math

3 Hacks to Make Managing Your Money a Breeze

By SmartAsset.By Rebecca Lake ..

Keeping your financial house in order isn’t a Herculean task, but it does require some time and effort. If your schedule is so jam-packed that you can’t spare a few minutes a week to review your budget, check your credit health or track your progress on saving or paying down debt, you could be letting money slip through your fingers without even realizing it. When you’re crunched for time, here are three things you can do to keep your finances on the right track.

1. Automate Your Finances

If paying bills is taking up a good chunk of your day, consider putting your payments on autopilot. When you set up automatic payments for credit cards or other debts, you won’t have to worry about paying late and damaging your credit score.

Most banks offer bill payment services at no charge, so it might be a good idea for you to take advantage of these features. Remember, your bills aren’t the only thing you can automate. If you’re trying to build your emergency fund or pad your IRA and your 401(k), setting up recurring transfers to those accounts is a stress-free way to work towards meeting your savings goals.

Just make sure you’re evaluating your accounts regularly to see how much progress you’re making and how fees are detracting from your bottom line. If you’re auto-saving in an IRA, for example, you’ll want to check in periodically to see how your investments are performing and swap out ones that are costing you more than they’re earning.

Get your free credit score.

2. Streamline How You Manage Your Accounts

When you’ve got two checking accounts, a saving account, a retirement account, two or three credit cards and a mortgage, staying on top of them all can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are a number of apps that make it easy to manage your finances.

With Personal Capital, for instance, you can link your checking account, savings account, IRA, 401(k) and investment accounts. The app analyzes your accounts to see what you’re paying in fees and recommends ways to improve your investment performance.

Mint is a budgeting app that links your bank accounts, credit cards, student loans, mortgage and investment accounts. You can set up a budget, create goals for debt repayment or savings and get a quick snapshot of your net worth straight from your phone.

3. Consolidate and Increase Your Savings

Using apps like Mint or Personal Capital to manage your accounts can relieve some of your financial stress. But you can take it a step further by reducing the number of accounts you have. If you’ve got balances on five or six credit cards, for example, transferring them to a single card with a zero percent rate means you’ll only have one payment to keep up with and you’ll pay less in interest (at least temporarily).

The same goes for those of you with multiple student loans from different loan servicers. Consolidating …read more

Read more here: 3 Hacks to Make Managing Your Money a Breeze

Category: economy, hacks, money, money management, personal finance

Get financially fit with a home gym — Savings Experiment

We all need exercise, but that doesn’t mean you need a pricey gym membership to stay in shape. We’ve rounded up 3 essential items you can use to get fit without ever leaving the house.
Let’s start with a little strength training.

If you’re aiming to gain functional strength rather than big muscles, try using resistance bands. The bands may look simple, but they’re actually very versatile. Just hook them on a door, table or any immovable object and you can do a whole range of full body exercises.

Sets can cost anywhere from $10 to $150, so shop around to see which type works for you.

But all the muscles in the world won’t help you without a little endurance, which is why a good jump rope should also be on your list.

They’ve been used by athletes and boxers for years to build conditioning, speed and core strength. And best of all, they only cost about $10 and travel easily.

Last but certainly not least, there’s the stability ball. It’s one of the most important things to have in your home gym and you can find it for as low as $10. Ab crunches, squats, hamstring curls – this simple ball can do it all, while improving your core strength and balance.

So depending on what your goals are, you can still get fit and save big by incorporating these fitness essentials into your home gym.

Just don’t let your favorite TV show distract you!

Related: 6 low-cost aids for your fitness program

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Category: exercise equipment, home gym, savings experiment

Considering a Fixer-Upper? 15 Ways to Avoid a Money Pit

By Money Talks News..

Fixer-uppers are back in style. During the housing boom, few homebuyers wanted to bother with renovation projects. New homes and those in move-in condition were the ideal.

That’s still true for many buyers. But others are finding that, done correctly, remodeling a fixer-upper can save a lot of money. Fixers are getting attention because:

  • Home prices are high in many cities, and a fixer-upper may be the only affordable choice in decent neighborhoods.
  • Home decorating and improvement TV shows inspire many buyers to turn to remodeling to get a home perfectly suited to them.
  • Lovers of period homes always want to restore older structures.

However, the wrong remodeling project can become a money pit that strips your bank account right down to the studs. Here are 15 ways to identify the fixer uppers worth your time and money:

1. Make cool calculations

Bring a cold analytical eye when shopping for a home to renovate. Put your emotions in the back seat while you assess each home’s possibilities.

2. Love the floor plan

Look for a floor plan you can live with. Moving load-bearing walls is an expensive proposition and generally to be avoided. SFGate tells how to identify load-bearing walls.

3. Start with the basement

Inspect a home thoroughly, inside and out. Check inside and outside the basement or foundation for exposed wires and pipes, cracks in the foundation, or water pooling around the home.

“The biggest problems in a house typically arise as a result of poor stability in the structure or foundation,” contractor Tyson Kunz told Bankrate.

Wise Bread says:

[A basement] can provide valuable clues on the quality of construction; condition of the HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems; and how well previous owners have maintained the building. Avoid sagging floor joists or unstable supports, ancient heating and AC systems, leaking water heaters, and electrical panels with loose wires.

HouseLogic and About.com offer more details on inspecting basements.

4. Inspect the roof

Get a home inspector or trusted roofing specialist to tell you if the home needs a new roof, which costs $20,000 to $40,000 and up.

In an article on assessing fixer-uppers, Consumer Reports says:

Runaway water can wreak havoc on any home, and a leaky roof is its quickest way in. If the home has an asphalt roof, look for cracked, curled and missing shingles. Gutters, downspouts and leader pipes should also be in place to collect rainwater and channel it away from the house.

5. Scrutinize bathrooms

Bathrooms deserve special attention because leaks cause rot and structural damage.

“Sloppy showers lead to repeated occurrences of water on the floor that seep through into the floor of the bathroom and adjacent rooms,” says HowToManGuide.com.

6. Avoid ancient plumbing and wiring

The presence of these elderly building materials is a sign of trouble:

  • Galvanized steel pipes: Sediment can build up in the pipes, and they may leak and corrode.
  • Aluminum wiring: It’s a potential fire hazard.

Replacing a home’s plumbing and wiring are …read more

Read more here: Considering a Fixer-Upper? 15 Ways to Avoid a Money Pit

Category: budgeting, buying a house, finance, first house, home improvement, renting an apartment

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