Metals Shine Brightest in Bull/Bear Poll

The precious metals sector is seen as the one most likely to rise this week, with oil in second.
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Updated with final poll results

NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- A trading week that ended to the downside despite better-than-expected earnings reports from

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

and

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

hasn't damped the enthusiasm of bulls as a new week filled with more corporate earnings reports and a bevy of economic data gets ready to kick off.

Sentiment this week -- as it was prior to the beginning of last week - is bullish, according to TheStreet.com RealMoney Barometer Survey, with the precious metals sector seen as the one most likely to rise. Gold futures have been on a wild ride, a ride mostly higher, as the precious metal trades near the record of about $1,072 an ounce it touched in the middle of the month. Gold has ended higher the past four weeks as the dollar has retreated and as gold increasingly is looked at as a hedge against inflation.

Gold for December delivery recently was down 10 cents to $1,056.30 an ounce.

Another sector that poll participants expect to rise this week is integrated oil. This week is a big one for the oil majors with

ConocoPhillips

(COP) - Get Report

,

BP

(BP) - Get Report

,

Valero Energy

(VLO) - Get Report

,

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Report

and

Chevron

(CVX) - Get Report

scheduled to issue earnings reports.

Sales and profits at these names are expected to fall from last year when oil was trading close to $150 a barrel. Oil is trading at almost half that now, but is still at year highs of more than $80. Oil recently was up 70 cents to $81.20 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Once again, commercial banks can't get any love from those taking part in the poll as the sector is viewed, by an overwhelming margin, as the one most likely to fall this week. Most of the big banks -- such as

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

and

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

-- already have issued earnings. The reports were generally been positive with signs of credit losses easing.

The bulls outweighed the bears in TheStreet.com RealMoney Barometer, taking 418, or 45.5%, of the 919 votes cast. The bears tallied 358, or 39, of the votes cast. Neutral took 143, or 15.6%.

> > Bulls Outweigh Bears in Final Poll Results

Besides earnings, investors this week will get a chance to digest the latest U.S. gross domestic product numbers, the biggest economic data point of the week. The report is scheduled for release on Thursday and is expected to show the first period of growth in more than a year, marking an end to the recession.

Last week, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

edged down 0.2% to close below 10,000, the

S&P 500

lost 0.7%, and the

Nasdaq

declined 0.1%. The Dow fell 109 points on Friday, its biggest one-day drop since Oct. 1.

Asian markets closed mostly higher Monday, as South Korea's economy grew 2.9% in the third quarter from the previous quarter. It's the country's fastest growth since the first quarter of 2002.

European shares were trading higher Monday, despite a decline at Dutch financial-services company

ING

(ING) - Get Report

, which announced Monday it planned to split its banking and insurance operations and that it would launch a rights issue of 7.5 billion euros.

Here is a wrap-up of our other weekly polls:

The coming week will be a big one for major integrated oil operations, as a whole basket of them are set to report third-quarter earnings.

The results will be a test of the hedging ability for the integrated architectures of the supermajors. Refining operations have been hit hard compared with last year because of slumping demand. Crude prices have been rising steadily in recent months, reaching a yearly high of $82 just this past week. But year-ago comparisons will be askew because of the $100-plus oil prices reached last year.

Occidental Petroleum

(OXY) - Get Report

offered a sneak peek this past week of what might be for many, showing a near 60% drop in profit and a steep fall in revenue from the year-ago period. While slashed crude prices hurt the bottom line, still, Occidental Petroleum managed to beat expectations largely due to a beefier showing from its production operations.

Looking at the earnings reports to come this week, we asked

TheStreet

readers to vote on which of five pre-selected supermajors would have the best third quarter. With 33.1% of the vote,

BP

(BP) - Get Report

topped the poll, followed in second place by

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Report

with 25.9% in its favor. BP will report early Tuesday morning, with Exxon Mobil's figures coming on Thursday.

For full results and analysis, click here

.

One could argue that this is the most important quarterly earnings season of the decade.

For many companies, this quarter will either make or break their chance for recovery in the second half of the year and the beginning of 2010. And the attention is all the more intense for the economy-revealing stocks known as the bellwethers.

Given this, we asked users of the

TheStreet

: "Which company, reporting earnings this week, is the most revealing bellwether of the state of the economy?" According to you, it is

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

that is the most revealing of near-term economic conditions, with 31% of the vote.

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

came in second, with 24.3% of the vote.

The company reported a 45% surge in third-quarter profit

as sales gained 25% on strong demand for Macs and iPhones.

For full results and analysis, click here

.

Bulldozers, backhoes, loaders, tractors, threshers, cranes, plows, graders, excavators, cherry pickers and blasthole drills. They make the vehicles that, when miniaturized, little kids go crazy over.

Lately, investors have as well. The miniaturized versions they're excited about, however, are shares.

When

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

reported a strong third quarter this past week, and when mining-equipment maker Bucyrus did the same, investors took note. Caterpillar especially painted a rosy picture of 2010, while

Bucyrus

(BUCY)

boosted optimism around the heavy-equipment sector by reporting a better-than-expected order flow.

Our poll, then, asked the question of this diverse sector, which makes rolling machinery for the construction, mining and agriculture: Which company will benefit the soonest from any global economic recovery next year?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the big daddy of the group, Caterpillar, took the prize (but only by a slight margin), capturing just below 31% of the vote.

The second-place finisher was a bit more surprising:

Manitowoc

(MTW) - Get Report

, the smallest company in our poll, took almost 21% of your clicks. Perhaps our poll takers liked the company's diversity. Crane-builder Manitowoc also makes food service equipment used in restaurants and commercial kitchens, like refrigeration systems.

For full results and analysis, click here

.

Apple's

(AAPL) - Get Report

iPod is expected to be the must-have gift-giving item this holiday season, according to readers of

TheStreet

.

The mp3 device garnered 42.2% of the vote in our weeklong poll, following

Apple's better-than-expected earnings release

this week.

The next-hottest gift is not as flashy.

TheStreet

users (25.1%) said the second most popular present this holiday season would be a

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

gift card.

For full results and analysis, click here

.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel and Ty Wenger in New York.

This article was written by staff members of TheStreet.com.