It may have been a holiday-shortened week, but it wasn't a sleepy one for the markets. We had fireworks from North Korea to go along with those from the Fourth of July and a great deal of market-moving data.

RealMoney's five bloggers were all over the action, and once again this weekend, we'd like to share the "Best of the Blogs" with readers. These posts best captured the intent of these blogs, which is to provide intelligent discussion on the issues each writer sees as most pressing that day.

Let's take a look at Jim Cramer on the Nasdaq 100, Rev Shark on the good side of worrying, Cody Willard on Microsoft's plans to come out with its own version of the iPod, Steve Smith on the weakness of the Nasdaq, and Tony Crescenzi on why the ISM data argue for a pause by the Fed.

Click here for information on, where you can see all the blogs -- and reader's comments -- in real time.

Cramer's Blog: Hard Knocks Could Bring NDX Opportunities

Originally published on 7/7/2006 at 12:14 PM

Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD) preannounces , and everything goes down hard in Nasdaq 100 (NDX), but AMD doesn't go down much.


But it is all about how weak the Nasdaq is. I believe that NDX short selling is driving all NDX stocks down and there could be opportunity because of it.

For example, the AMD war is actually a positive for PC makers and for the software that goes with them because we will now be able to lower prices on PCs with the cost of the insides coming down.

I also think that lots of stocks -- like a Citrix Systems ( CTXS) or a Network Appliance ( NTAP) -- both of which I own for my ActionAlerts PLUS charitable trust -- are not affected by AMD at all, or by 3M's ( MMM) LCD comments for that matter.

Then again, the central premise is the endless decline in the NDX, which began when Microsoft ( MSFT) said it would be late with its Vista product.

Bargains? Not yet. But we're getting there.

At the time of publication, Cramer was long Citrix Systems and Network Appliance.

Rev Shark's Blog: Market Worries Are a Welcome Sight

Originally published on 7/6/2006 at 9:01 AM

"This has been a great year for preventive worrying. Seldom in recent history have so many people worried about so many things that haven't happened."

-- James Reston

Investors can always find something to worry about. In good times, they worry that they aren't doing better. Greed is really nothing more than worry that we should make more money. In bad times, investors worry that things will never improve. They are weighed down by the feeling that market conditions will stay poor far into the future, and that they will never realize good profits again.

Worry is the natural state of affairs in the market, and if we understand it and embrace it, we can make it work to our benefit. The key thing to keep in mind is that just because market participants are worried, it doesn't mean the market can't work higher. Quite often a high degree of worry is actually a prod that will push prices higher.

Currently, the market is tremendously worried about one key thing: how the fight against inflation will play out and affect the stock market. Some are worried that the Fed will be too aggressive and push the economy into a recession by raising interest rates too aggressively. Others fear that a slower economy won't stop inflationary pressures, and that we already have conditions that will cause us to descend into the misery of stagflation. We worry about how the housing market is going to cool and hurt consumers, and we worry about how the job market is so strong that it will create inflationary pressures.

The worries are obvious and everywhere, and they set the stage for the market to work higher. One important precondition that is in place that will help us scale the proverbial wall of worry is the presence of better technical patterns in the major indices. We hit a low in June, based for a couple weeks and then popped higher when our worries about what the Fed might do at its last meeting proved to be too negative. Yesterday we had a good bout of profit-taking, and we pulled back toward support levels, but still have plenty of room to the downside before we do any severe technical damage.

The technical picture isn't bad, and when we combine that with the high degree of worry and concern over inflation, interest rates and the state of the economy, the conditions are ripe for the market to slowly move up. The most important factor of all right now is that no one is unaware of the potential problem of inflation. It is painfully obvious, and that means it has probably been discounted to some extent by the market. Our worries are priced in, and unless we get some newer and bigger worries, we probably have already done much of the selling we intended to do.

What we have to watch for is how the market deals with worry. Do we hold key technical levels and shrug off news that confirms what we are already concerned about? That is what climbing a wall of worry is all about. It occurs when the market has priced in the issues that is troubling it to such a degree that bad news no longer results in more selling.

With earnings season approaching, a somewhat better technical picture and plenty of worries and concern in the air, the conditions are ripe for us to slowly and unevenly climb higher. It won't be easy, and we will slip back down at times, but this is a market that is already causing so much anxiety that things are likely to improve.

We have a slightly positive start this morning. There is some concern about another spike up in crude oil, but the weekly unemployment data is in line, and European markets are quite strong.

Cody Willard's Blog: New Media Revolution Hit of the Day

Originally published on 7/6/2006 at 2:48 PM

So Microsoft ( MSFT) "secretly" talks up how it can design an MP3 player that can challenge Apple ( AAPL). Again. (I put quotes around "secret" because the reports in the press such as The Wall Street Journal are full of "off the record" quotes. It seems Microsoft truly has a new public relations strategy that entails "leaking" details to the press to create buzz. I take that as an ironic, but unsurprisingly transparent attempt to emulate Apple's PR strategies.)

The fact is that at some point, someone's going to design a player and system that will be functional enough to crack some of Apple's dominance. Microsoft is probably the leading candidate to do it, since Sony ( SNE) seems so clueless about its digital music strategy.

I think part of Sony's problem is that it owns too much valuable content and can't put a Chinese wall between the content ownership and the content-distribution business models. Sony, like so many other content owners, such as the music labels and movie studios, just can't seem to grasp that it has no control over what gets distributed where these days. The Internet has truly made the consumer king, and only Apple and Google ( GOOG) (and smaller companies like seem to have figured that out so far. Still.

I will also throw in here that I don't expect the new iPods (and possibly the new living-room media device that I've mentioned before) to hit until November of this year. But we can expect an all-out blitz from the folks in Cupertino, Calif., when it does.

Look forward to more hits like this; I'm going to start a new daily feature in this blog, highlighting a "digital revolution" story each day.

At the time of publication, the firm in which Willard is a partner was net long Microsoft and Apple, although positions can change at any time and without notice.

Steven Smith's Blog: Nasdaq Slip Flashes Red

Originally published on 7/6/2006 at 3:08 PM

The Nasdaq is still the emperor with little clothes -- its slip today showed it's still wearing red underwear. Although we discovered long ago that we don't necessarily need tech to lead, the underperformance of the index isn't a good sign for the health of the market, especially given that the sectors that picked up the mantle after the bubble days like housing and materials are faltering and appear to have no group to pass the baton to.

Speaking of health issues, without Altria ( MO), the Dow Jones industrial average is looking pretty wheezy. At this point, 15 of the 30 components are lower on the day -- sans MO, the grand old index would be down about 12 points.

The put/call ratio might start to lift into the close, but it was running a neutral 0.65 for most of the day. The VIX also might see a lift, but it sat nearly unchanged around 14.50, even as the S&P 500 index rose this morning. My view as far as volatility goes is that even though tomorrow's jobs report will have some "post-event" pressure on premiums, with plenty of names due to report earnings prior to the July 21 option expiration, tomorrow afternoon or Monday morning might actually be a good time to start scouring for ways to get long vol/gamma/vega.

The broad approach might be to sell premium in index or ETFs, such as the SPY or more sector-specific issues, such as the Oil Services HOLDRs ( OIH), and buy options in some individual names.

For the latest broadcast of the weekly Options Report click here .

Tony Crescenzi's Blog: ISM Says Skip

Originally published on 7/3/2006 at 11:27 AM

One of the most important economic indicators for any given month is the Institute for Supply Management's monthly survey of purchasing managers. The Federal Reserve has showed great deference to the report, which for decades has been at the forefront during key turning points in the economy. Given its history and its influence on monetary policy, today's report is of great significance.

At 53.8, the index is now at its lowest level since last August and one of the lowest readings of the past three years. The results provide justification for the Fed to skip a rate hike at the Aug. 8 FOMC meeting.

Importantly, the employment component dipped below 50.0, indicating that the factory sector lost jobs in June. The index fell to 48.7 from 52.9 in May, its lowest reading since May 2005 and the second lowest reading since October 2003. If job growth weakens, consumers won't have the income needed to offset the rise in energy costs, higher interest rates and the weakened housing market.

Factory activity could weaken further during the summer. Consumer spending has increased at a slow 2% pace thus far this quarter, which should reduce the impetus to raise production. Moreover, automobile inventories are bloated, and that is likely to spur a cut in automobile production.

Again, even before this report the case for a Fed pause was strong; today's report solidifies the argument.
David Morrow is editor-in-chief of In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, though he owns stock in He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

If you liked this article you might like

Opinion: Don't Question the Almighty

Opinion: Don't Question the Almighty

What You're Missing on RealMoney

What You're Missing on RealMoney

How RealMoney Can Prevent a Disaster

How RealMoney Can Prevent a Disaster

Profit With RealMoney

Profit With RealMoney

The Bonanza Calls of Biotech Select

The Bonanza Calls of Biotech Select