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The week's best web reads: 5 underrated index funds

A man walks in front of an index board at the reception hall of the Athens Stock exchange May 28, 2012.

JOHN KOLESIDIS/REUTERS

Everyday we scour the web for the most interesting or informative investing news items, columns or blogs, and present the links in our new daily premarket blog post.

In case you missed some, here's a recap of the links from last week:

STOCK PICKS

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Another five underrated index funds from the Canadian Couch Potato blog.

Three sectors and 10 stocks an Obama win would help.

10 stocks whose buybacks should boost earnings per share.

10 brands that 24/7 Wall St. suggests will disappear in 2013. Among them: RIM and American Airlines.

Social media stocks that might be ready for a bounce after a recent sell-off.

Consider yourself a good stock picker if you bought any of these last fall. The 10 best performing U.S. stocks since the October lows of last year.

...But hopefully you avoided these. The 10 worst performing S&P 500 stocks over the past year.

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Looking ahead, Jim Cramer has revealed his favourite stock pick for the fourth quarter: Union Pacific.

STRATEGIES

Kyle Bass, who famously made a fortune shorting the subprime market before the housing market collapse, is worried that there's too much debt in the world. So what's he recommending now? He suggests owning productive assets like apartment buildings and oil wells, "anything that has a real asset that's productive."

Stock market ultra-bear Marc Faber says investors should brace for a major market drop ahead that will present a buying opportunity. Investor Jim Rogers says there already is opportunity from a falling market — in China.

The "Dogs of the Dow" is a popular passive investing strategy that says investors should simply buy the ten highest yielding stocks in the Dow at the start of each year.  So how have this year's Dogs done so far?  Not too shabby.

Hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb built a major position in distressed Greek government bonds in September. His bet paid off.

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Why investors' biggest mistake is excessive caution.

How to avoid the next Hewlett-Packard value trap.

An interesting argument on why you shouldn't be scared to purchase individual junk bonds, something most advisers would suggest is too risky for retail investors.

Your attitude toward the stock market in October, and whether or not you decide that it's time to take money off the table, is dependent at least in part on who you think will win the upcoming election.

Why the day of the month really does matter when it comes to seasonality trades.

MARKET SIGNALS

David Bianco, the chief U.S. equity strategist at Deutsche Bank, believes the third-quarter earnings season will be one of the most disappointing earnings seasons since the economic recovery began.

If history holds, stocks should rise in the fourth quarter, says Mark Hulbert.

Wal-Mart is in many ways the "deflation retailer" which outperforms when money is afraid of a deflation pulse and volatility is increasing. Right now, the Wal-Mart indicator is telling bulls to be careful.

The platinum/gold ratio is showing there continues to be deep concerns about the economy.

Mark Hulbert on why the path the market takes between now and Halloween is likely to be a particularly volatile one.

Why a spike in U.S. bond yields may be coming.

High-frequency trading firms, long resistant to tighter oversight of their businesses, are beginning to change their tune amid a spate of high-profile technology failures that have roiled financial markets.

The risks of a big sell-off are higher now that we're in the fourth quarter. Selectivity in buying stocks will be more important than ever.

Where we are in the volatility cycle.

Junk bond spreads are suggesting that demand for U.S. high-yield and junk bonds may have already peaked or is nearing a peak.

History suggests investors should be careful at the end of U.S. election years.

Bernanke's QE3 may have provided a bit of a lift for stocks last month, but action in the U.S. funds market shows a lot of skepticism. In the week ended Sept. 26, the second full week after the announcement of QE3, retail investors pulled $5.1-billion (U.S.) from domestic equity funds.

ETFs

Charles Schwab last month stunned Wall Street by slashing expenses on its ETFs to as low as 0.04 per cent. But there's more to the move than meets the eye. Schwab is spearheading the radical idea of a loss leader ETF, to get clients in the door to spend their cash on more profitable services.

Some U.S. investors are warming to an unusual group of exchange-traded bond funds that aim to be more like individual bonds with a set maturity.

COMPANY NEWS & VIEWS

What caught Wall Street's eye in Facebook's new advertisement this week? A phone.

An examination of whether Facebook hitting 1 billion users is a good thing or a bad thing for investors.

David Einhorn is shorting Chipotle on the basis that Taco Bell and its new Cantina Bell menu is going to lure away customers. Felx Salmon of Reuters put that theory to the taste test, and begs to differ.

COMMODITIES

The market is pricing in a rally in natural gas prices in December and January, based on the futures curve.

The top-performing commodity in the third quarter? Silver.

AND THE JUST PLAIN ODD

Microsoft hired a rapper for retail store promotion, and things went terribly wrong.

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About the Author
Investment Editor

Darcy Keith is The Globe and Mail's Investment Editor. He has been a business journalist since 1992 and joined the Report on Business in 2010 from Yahoo! Canada, where he was the senior editor of finance. More

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