More Americans sought unemployment aid last week, suggesting hiring remains sluggish.
More Americans sought unemployment aid last week, suggesting hiring remains sluggish.
The S&P 500 ended the week at yet another all-time record high. Some have tried to compare the current peak to the stock market tops we've seen in 2000 and 2007. However, many -- like Reformed Broker Josh Brown -- are quick to remind everyone that the comparisons stop with nominal price. Relative to earnings, stocks are clearly much more reasonably priced than they were before the last two market crashes. This is not to say that there aren't things we should worry about. "I am troubled to see that forward earnings has been stuck around its record high of $115 for the past nine weeks," wrote market guru Ed Yardeni earlier this week. "This is the measure of earnings that I believe drives the market." Indeed, this earnings growth stagnation amid rising stock prices have caused valuations to become less attractive. In a piece for Itaú BBA titled "Developing Euphoria," hedge fund manager Felix Zulauf raises similar concerns. Interestingly, he draws comparisons between the stock market and the gold market. Here's an excerpt (emphasis added): The problem with currently rising equity markets is not rising prices but the lack of fundamental improvement. Stock prices are driven primarily by this lack of alternative investment opportunities and the growing belief that central banks’ money printing can and will generate attractive investment returns for equity investors for a long time despite the lack of supporting fundamentals in the real economy. That is a risky assumption, but as long as rising trends remain intact, nobody worries. In fact, the momentum of the leading equity market indices (Japan, the U.S., Germany and Switzerland to name some) is very powerful and has the potential to carry further, potentially even into a buying climax. Similarities to the gold price in spring 2011 come to mind. At that time, the conviction that gold could only go one way because inflation will eventually rise was as extreme as is now the case for equities. Once equity markets discover the emperor has no clothes, they could face a quick and painful adjustment to bring markets in line again with fundamentals. For the gold market it was when investors realized there was no rise in CPI inflation or the assumption that systemic risks are declining. It is true that equities look attractive relative to fixed-income alternatives from a valuation point of view, when depressed fixed-income yields are compared to dividend yields or earnings yields (reciprocal of P/E ratios). Those comparisons are all fine as long as economies do not fall back into a recession and earnings stay at least stable. As investors are not expecting a recession, they still believe equities are by far the best place to be, and they act accordingly. That’s why we might see an end to this cycle with a bang (buying climax) and not a whimper (conventional broadening cycle top). Simply put, gold exploded higher amid fears of liquidity-driven rampant inflation. In a similar sense, stocks are currently in rally mode on expectations that an improving economy will eventually translate into earnings growth. In his piece, Zulauf also offers his take on austerity, debt, bonds, gold, and Japan. He also provides a lengthy perspective on currencies. Read "Developing Euphoria," at Itau.com.br.SEE ALSO: ROSENBERG: The Fed Is Trying Like Crazy, But Nothing It's Doing Can Save The Economy > Please follow Money Game on Twitter and Facebook.Join the conversation about this story »
Want some more tech to put on your face? Neither full-on goggles like the Oculus Rift nor slender no-AR-yet specs like Google's Glass, CastAR takes a whole different approach to modified-reality tech by slapping tiny projectors on your face, and The Verge got to take a peek.Read more
mdash; About 50 to 60 people were injured Saturday when a driver described by witnesses as an elderly man drove his car into a group of hikers marching in a parade in a small Virginia mountain town. Washington County director of emergency management Pokey Harris said no fatalities had been reported. The injuries ranged from critical to superficial, he said. Three of the victims were flown by helicopters to regional hospitals. Another 12 to 15 were taken by ambulance. The rest were treated at the scene. The status of the driver wasn't released. Multiple witnesses described him as an elderly man. Authorities are still investigating, but Harris said they believe the man might have suffered a medical emergency before the accident. It happened around 2:30 p.m. during the Hikers Parade at the Trail Days festival, an annual celebration of the Appalachian Trail in Damascus, near the Tennessee state line about a half-hour drive east of Bristol. What caused the car to drive into the crowd wasn't immediately known. It appeared to come from a side street, and a thud could be heard. People yelled stop, and at some point, the car finally stopped. Witnesses said the car had a handicapped parking sticker and it went more than 100 feet before coming to a stop. "He was hitting hikers," said Vickie Harmon, a witness from Damascus. "I saw hikers just go everywhere." Damascus resident Amanda Puckett, who was watching the parade with her children, ran to the car, where she and others lifted the car off those pinned underneath. "Everybody just threw our hands up on the car and we just lifted the car up," she said. Keith Neumann, a hiker from South Carolina, said he was part of the group that scrambled around the car. They pushed the car backward to free a woman trapped underneath and lifted it off the ground to make sure no one else was trapped. Another person jumped inside to put it in park. "There's no single heroes. We're talking about a group effort of everybody jumping in," he said. There were ambulances in the parade ahead of the hikers and paramedics on board immediately responded to the crash. Copyright (2013) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium. Neither these AP materials nor any portion thereof may be stored in a computer except for personal and non-commercial use. Users may not download or reproduce a substantial portion of the AP material found on this web site. AP will not be held liable for any delays, inaccuracies, errors or omissions therefrom or in the transmission or delivery of all or any part thereof or for any damages arising from any of the foregoing. Please follow Business Insider on Twitter and Facebook.Join the conversation about this story »
The peak period for baby-making sex in ancient Egypt was in July and August, when the weather was at its hottest. Researchers made this discovery at a cemetery in the Dakhleh Oasis in Egypt whose burials date back around 1,800 years. The oasis is located about 450 miles (720 kilometers) southwest of Cairo. The people buried in the cemetery lived in the ancient town of Kellis, with a population of at least several thousand. These people lived at a time when the Roman Empire controlled Egypt, when Christianity was spreading but also when traditional Egyptian religious beliefs were still strong. So far, researchers have uncovered 765 graves, including the remains of 124 individuals that date to between 18 weeks and 45 weeks after conception. The excellent preservation let researchers date the age of the remains at death. The researchers could also pinpoint month of death, as the graves were oriented toward the rising sun, something that changes predictably throughout the year. [See Images of the Ancient Egypt Cemetery] The results, combined with other information, suggested the peak period for births at the site was in March and April, and the peak period for conceptions was in July and August, when temperatures at the Dakhleh Oasis can easily reach more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). The peak period for the death of women of childbearing age was also in March and April (exactly mirroring the births), indicating that a substantial number of women died in childbirth. Although attempts have been made in the past to piece together ancient Egyptian birth patterns using census records, researchers say this is the first time that these patterns have been determined by looking at burials. "No one has ever looked at it using the actual individuals themselves, the biological aspects of it," said lead researcher Lana Williams, a professor at the University of Central Florida, in an interview with LiveScience. The team presented their research recently at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Honolulu. Sex in the summer Conception didn't peak in summer months for other ancient Mediterranean cultures, Williams noted; the hot weather is thought to have lowered sexual libido and possibly sperm count. In ancient Egypt, however, the new findings indicate that at Kellis conceptions increased by more than 20 percent above the site's annual average. A summer baby-making boon in ancient Egypt may have been due to traditional beliefs regarding fertility and the Nile flood. The people who lived at the Dakhleh Oasis in ancient times believed that the Nile River was the source of their water and that the flooding of the Nile, which takes place in the summer, was key to the fertility of their land. "Even though this was a Christian community, we know that they were still practicing, or having these social beliefs of, fertility being at its highest in the months of July and August," Williams said. "We have local temple reliefs that show this, the annual inundation of the Nile being celebrated at Dakhleh." She added that the annual flood of the Nile River was a pivotal event throughout Egyptian history. "This was a very strong aspect of social beliefs of fertility," she said. "The Nile is the gift to Egypt — without it, there's really no way that this civilization could have survived through 3,000 years of history." These patterns of conceptions and births would have likely continued back further into ancient times and occurred at other Egyptian sites as well, said Williams. In fact, they appear to have also continued into relatively modern times. "Interestingly, all the way up into the 1920s and 1930s, we still see this maxima in birth taking place at the same season [around March and April]," Williams said in regards to birth records from the World Health Organization that looked at rural Egypt. Sexual prohibitions While the summer was prime time for ancient Egyptian baby-making, the period around January seems to have been a low point, when conception fell to 20 percent below the site's annual average. The baby dip was likely due to the new religion, Christianity, which in ancient times called for prohibitions on sex during certain periods, such as during Advent and Lent. Ancient texts indicate that early Egyptian Christians were, ideally, supposed to avoid intercourse "on Saturday, on Sunday, on Wednesday, and on Friday, in the 40 days of Lent and before the other feasts at which they might take the Eucharist," writes Peter Brown, a professor of classics at Princeton University, in his book "The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity" (Columbia University Press, 2008 edition). The people of Kellis may not have been as strict as these texts recommend, but conception did fall to a low point around January, a time close to both Advent and Lent, Williams pointed out. Ancient contraceptives The patterns also suggest some form of ancient contraceptives were in use. [The History & Future of Birth Control: 10 Contraceptives] "If you have this much of a tightly patterned conception, there has to be some form of contraception that was taking place," Williams said, noting that ancient Egyptian medical texts tell of several methods that they believed acted to prevent pregnancy. For instance, contraceptive recipes from the Kahun Medical Papyrus, dating back about 3,800 years, included crocodile dung and honey in their ingredients. It isn’t clear from the surviving papyrus exactly how they were to be inserted into the body. One fragment reads that for honey one was to "sprinkle [it] over her womb, this to be done on natron bed," (translation by Stephen Quirke). Williams said that the prospect of having to take dung filled medicine, and having sex with it in you, probably discouraged intercourse. "By aversion alone, it would probably work for contraception," Williams said. "The interesting thing is when you start to look at the ingredients, the high acid content that would be in crocodile dung, the anti-bacterial qualities of honey, it probably would take down the possibility of pregnancy by acting as a spermicide," said Williams, adding that it would not have been as effective as modern-day contraceptives. Avoiding the taxman When the team compared their research results with Roman census records, they found that the records were a bit off, indicating May and June as the time of maximum births. As the census records were tied to taxation, the people living in Roman-controlled Egypt seem to have put off recording them. "We don't want to pay our taxes until the last moment, so let's not do it, let's put off filing that document until we have to," said Williams, speculating on why they would have put off recording births. For the ancient Egyptians living under Roman rule, it seems sex, birth, death and taxes were all linked together. 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The brand-name fashion discounter reports earnings on Tuesday, after a strong run for the stock.