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  • 'No Diet Coke, Pepsi'

    The old Saturday Night Live line--"No Coke, Pepsi"-- takes on a new meaning today.

    Data from trade publication Beverage Digest finds Pepsi (PEP) has superseded Diet Coke as the number two carbonated beverage in America.  But regular Coca-Cola (KO) still holds on to the number one spot.

    “It’s kind of astonishing what’s going on here. This is just a jockeying for position in a little ways.  But Coke, regular Coke—full sugar Coke—is still the top selling soft drink,“ says Yahoo Finance Columnist Rick Newman.

    Overall soda sales were down for the 10th straight year in 2014 as consumers have become more health-conscious, according to Beverage Digest.

    Newman feels the soda pop space is looking a bit tired.

    “Something 20 years ago, if you predicted this, everyone would have said you’re crazy. Bottled water is the big market share play here and of course it’s not just plain vanilla water anymore, its coconut water and cucumber water. We’re trying really hard for innovation in this space,”

    Read More »from 'No Diet Coke, Pepsi'
  • All three major indicies are in positive territory through the first half of the trading day. Investors seemed at peace with the final revision of Q4 GDP, one that held steady at 2.2%. Despite the modest gains today, the market is still well into the red for the week. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen is expected to speak at the San Francisco Fed today at 3:45. Could she move markets right before the close?

    The much watched price of crude is giving back some of its gains as tensions ratcheted up in the Middle east this week. WTI futures shed 3% and are back below $50 a barrel.

    Here are some other stories Yahoo Finance is keeping an eye on today.

    Big banks may not back Dems
    Reuters is reporting that several of Wall Street's biggest banks are not happy about pressure from Democrats in Congress to further regulate them. According to sources close to such conversations, the firms are considering a concerted effort to pull funding for Democratic campaigns. Vocal member of the

    Read More »from Big banks may block Dems, Tim Cook's pledge and Lufthansa's liability
  • Google (GOOGL) is boldly going where it hasn’t gone before.

    The tech giant is reportedly bringing its augmented reality sci-fi game, Ingress, to TV. Tech news website, The Information, reports that the TV show would influence the game and add "another layer of the game's world." The geo-location game, developed by Google's Niantic Labs, has soared in popularity since its release in 2012.

    Yahoo Columnist Rick Newman thinks Google is trying to get a slice of every market.

    “Google is trying everything," he says. "Obviously, this looks appealing to them, and we're just seeing the continued diffusion of all our entertainment options… the idea here is it would be sort of a hybrid video game TV offering. It's entertainment. I think this is terrific.”

    While Niantic Labs has reportedly partnered with the Sean Daniel Company, producer of the new SyFy's miniseries The Expanse, it is unclear whether the show would air on traditional TV networks or on streaming services. Yahoo Finance’s Aaron Task

    Read More »from Google bringing sci-fi game to TV: Report
  • Here’s what happened this week in weird business news.

    McDonald’s gets into McFashion

    Thanks to McDonald’s (MCD) you can now have your burger and wear it, too. McDonald’s has revealed a Big Mac clothing and lifestyle line in Sweden that includes raincoats, wallpaper, sheets, and even dog coats. The items range from $40 to $45 and are available for purchase online. The stunt is part of McDonald’s “Imlovinit24” marketing campaign which produced events in 24 cities over the course of 24 hours. Other promotions included a Ne-Yo concert in Los Angeles and a giant coffee cup ball pit in Sydney, Australia.

    McDonald's Big Mac clothingMcDonald's Big Mac clothing

    Willie Nelson puts his money where his mouth is

    Peanut butter and jelly, love and marriage, Willie Nelson and pot. They’re all matches made in heaven. That’s why it comes as no surprise that the country music legend will launch his own marijuana line. Nelson, 81, plans to open stores in states where pot is already legal and will sell his own strains of the wacky tabacky.

    In an interview

    Read More »from McDonald's goes high-fashion, why Spotify should thank One Direction: This week's weird business news
  • Here’s a look at some of the stocks the Yahoo Finance team will be tracking for you today.

    Blackberry (BBRY) shares are on the move in early trading. The Canadian smartphone maker swung to profit in the fourth quarter, topping analysts' estimates. But revenue fell short of forecasts. Sales fell more than 32% from a year earlier as it continues to struggle with sluggish sales of smartphones.

    GameStop (GME) shares are falling in the pre-market. The video-game retailer provided a weaker-than-expected outlook for the year after reporting earnings and revenue that missed forecasts in its holiday quarter as the stronger dollar and weak demand for older model consoles hurt sales.

    Get the Latest Market Data and News with the Yahoo Finance App

    Restoration Hardware (RH) shares are down sharply in early trading. The high-end home furnishings retailer warning that the West Coast port slowdown will take a toll on first quarter earnings, but stressed the impact was temporary.  The company posting

    Read More »from BlackBerry swings to profit; GameStop takes a hit; Yahoo rewards shareholders
  • Fed chair Janet Yellen last year voiced concern about “equity valuations of smaller firms as well as social media and biotechnology firms,”  as well as about banks' exposure to the leveraged loan market. Other Fed officials have worried about retail investors potentially being overexposed to mutual funds that invest in corporate bonds and emerging markets, while many economists have voiced concern about subprime auto lending and student loans.
    Housing, by contrast, has become relatively staid and boring affair -- as you'd expect given how the excesses of the early aughts led to the financial crisis. I was thus struck by a comment from Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer when he was asked earlier this week about the housing market following his speech at the New York Economic's Club: "We have to be careful," Fischer said, "to make sure banks and non-banks manage their risk well."

    A Fed spokesman declined to comment further so it's impossible to tell if the Vice Chair is truly getting

    Read More »from Banks "more aggressive...creative" with mortgages: What could possibly go wrong?
  • Following four-consecutive days of stock market (^GSPC) declines, Wall Street is focusing on the final revision of fourth quarter GDP and a speech this afternoon by Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

    The Commerce Department says the economy grew at a 2.2% rate the last three months of 2014, the same as its previous revision and below economists' estimates.

    Yahoo Finance's Aaron Task thinks that while the report isn't especially good, investors won't spend too much time dwelling on this data.

    "It's not terrible but it's not going to give anybody great faith or hope," he says.  "This is kind of a wash because it's a rear guard action and people are already thinking about what the first quarter numbers are going to look like."

    Meantime, Yahoo Finance Senior Columnist Michael Santoli is more curious about what Yellen might say on what the Fed plans are after it begins raising interest rates.

    "I think a lot of people want to hear if she has anything to say about her broadly-framed expectations for

    Read More »from GDP, Yellen in focus on Wall St; Blackberry's mixed message; Coke-Pepsi cola wars
  • Here are three things to watch today as we close out the trading week...

    Number 1:

    “The sensibilities of the market remain fragile.”

    That was the understated observation yesterday by Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, who reiterated that the economy seems sturdy enough to handle slightly higher interest rates.

    This is a message that the financial markets only occasionally seem happy to hear. Every time domestic economic numbers look strong enough to make it an easy call for the Fed to move by September, the bond market lifts yields, the dollar rises and, in effect, the market does a bit of tightening for the Fed.

    This will get sorted out, and by the time short-term rates are nudged above zero it will come as no surprise whatsoever to investors. But on the way there, those fragile sensibilities are sure to make things jumpy.

    This is why most of the trading day will likely be a tense vigil for Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s speech in San Francisco, set to begin just before the closing

    Read More »from Yellen in SF, oil trade gets messy & biotechs hit a bump: What to watch
  • Can cocktails de-throne beer?

    Beer is the undisputed king of alcohol, making up nearly half of the alcoholic beverage market. But one company is trying to help the cocktail make a comeback. And not just cocktails – which would be a somewhat easy feat, given that spirit sales are on the rise – but pre-made cocktails, which have traditionally been a sector of the alcoholic beverage market about as popular as non-alcoholic beer.

    The company is Austin Cocktails, and over the past three years they have developed four vodka based, pre-mixed cocktails using all natural ingredients like mint, coconut water and agave. Several more, including a few tequila-based varieties, are currently in the approval process.

    According to Edward Jones beverage industry analyst Jack Russo, the company is playing into a handful of trends that currently exist: natural ingredients, the move to 'craft,' and the fact that no one has time to handmix their own cocktails any more. The only impediment to these things, he warns, is that they often

    Read More »from Can cocktails de-throne beer?
  • Insurance company Northwestern Mutual will buy financial planning disruptor LearnVest for an undisclosed sum, the companies announced Wednesday.

    It may sound like an unlikely union, but it's not uncommon for fintech startups like LearnVest to be scooped up by larger financial firms eager to tap into their technology and younger customer base.

    "We're shaking things up," says LearnVest founder and CEO Alexa von Tobel.

    LearnVest, with offices in New York and Arizona, has made a name for itself by promising to offer financial services at a low cost to average households and refusing to generate revenue by selling customers financial products, like insurance. With Northwestern Mutual, however, it couldn’t get more old school. 

    The 160-year-old Northwestern, based in Milwaukee, has 4.2 million customers, 16,000 advisors on staff and $230 billion in assets. In addition to life insurance products, the company offers investment advisory services, retirement planning, and estate planning.

    Read More »from LearnVest CEO on Northwestern Mutual deal: 'We're shaking things up'
  • Your future is going to be hard…get used to it.

    That’s apparently the message from 91-year-old billionaire Charlie Munger, for years the right-hand man of one of the richest people on the planet, Warren Buffett.

    Munger, the Vice-Chairman of Berkshire-Hathaway (BRK-A), is quoted by Bloomberg as telling a gathering in Los Angeles that we should all be prepared for adjusting to a world that is harder…and that we can count on the purchasing power of our money to go down over time.

    That may sound cold-hearted, but Yahoo Finance Columnist Rick Newman says no, it really isn’t.

    “He’s spot-on and he’s not the only one saying this,” he argues. “Things have not been very good since 2000. We’re already in that period he’s talking about. That’s why six years after a recovery from a recession it feels like a recession to a lot of people.”

    And Newman warns we better listen to Munger’s advice.

    “This is going to continue,” he points out. “We’re going to have slower growth in the future, a lot more

    Read More »from Billionaire: Your life is going to stink
  • Stop me if this sounds familiar: You scour MLS for the semi that will rescue you from a life in a high-rise. Mortgage pre-approval in place, you bid well above asking, because you live in Toronto and that’s how it works. The selling agent comes back and says there’s another stronger bid, and couldn’t you do a bit more? You swallow hard and cough up another $10,000, sealing the deal, and only later wondering if there really was a competing offer in the first place.

    It’s tough to know how often this happens, but with interest rates still rock-bottom and bidding wars turning post-war bungalows into million-dollar properties, the Ontario government is bringing in new rules to crack down on unethical real estate agents that try to pump up housing prices with “phantom” offers.

    “It’s all in the context of these bidding wars, and the idea is a potential buyer knowing ‘am I in competition, and how many people am I in competition with?’” says Bruce Matthews, deputy registrar of the Real Estate

    Read More »from New Ontario real estate rules to take some of the nuttiness out of bidding wars
  • When it comes to getting the salary you want, how you handle yourself at the negotiating table can make or break you, says Nicole Williams, LinkedIn career expert and CEO of WORKS, a career consultancy firm.

    “This is a game of first card revealed, and you want it to be theirs,” Williams says.

    We asked her to walk us through five of the most common mistakes job candidates make when negotiating:

    Not dressing the part

    This may sound obvious, but Williams says you should always consider what kind of environment you’re walking into when you plan your interview outfit. A three-piece suit may get you far if you’re interviewing in the financial services industry or at a law firm, but a company that is more relaxed (say, a tech startup) might be turned off by a look that makes it seem as if the applicant is trying too hard.  

    “You want to look appropriate for this working environment but you want to look on the fancy end of that,” Williams says.

    Bad body language

    People fidget when they

    Read More »from The top 5 salary negotiating mistakes people make
  • Taylor Swift for President?

    Taylor Swift is no longer just the highest-paid female singer on the planet.

    She’s also one of the top leaders on earth.

    That’s according to Fortune magazine, which lists the superstar #6 on its 2015 rankings of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. The magazine calls her pop’s savviest star, pointing to her ability to make money off her persona and music in an era of free streaming. And Fortune says her efforts could have ripple effects throughout the entire industry.

    Yahoo Finance’s Aaron Task feels it’s pretty obvious why Swift was picked to be on the list.

    “She’s the CEO of Taylor Swift, Inc., which is a humongous business and she’s been incredibly successful,” he argues. “This has not happened by accident, and they’re crediting her for the success of her own brand.”

    But is she in the same category of someone such as Pope Francis (#4)?

    “Is she one of the great leaders of the world?” asks Task. “I don’t know, but she’s certainly one of the great leaders in the industry that she’s in.”

    Read More »from Taylor Swift for President?
  • It’s somewhat ironic to me that Ellen Pao has become the poster child in the debate about women in Silicon Valley and American business in general. I say that because she is someone who by almost every measure has had a super-successful life and career, and also has serious potential flaws as a plaintiff. But does any of that matter as the jury gets ready to decide the case? Let’s take a look.

    Imagine if I described this person to you: A young woman who is the daughter of Chinese immigrants who goes to Princeton and graduates with a degree in electrical engineering, and then goes to Harvard and gets both a law degree and an MBA. She works at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, arguably the most high-powered law firm in the country. Now stop right there. Already by any measure this person is in the most select, super-elite group of all Americans. But wait there’s more. She then joins Kleiner Perkins, perhaps the most high-powered venture capital firm in the country. She also joins the board of

    Read More »from Is Ellen Pao the right poster child for gender-bias case?

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