What the experts say

More bears, better bargains; Jumbo loan revival; Stocks for stocking stuffers

More bears, better bargains

The recession is officially over and companies are in pretty good financial shape, yet investors can’t seem to shake their pessimism, said Paul Lim in Money. Recently, 50 percent of individual investors described themselves as bearish; only 21 percent claimed to be bulls. But try not to get caught up in the gloom. “As a group, investors’ emotional weathervanes very often point the wrong way,” says David Kotok, chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors. It’s thus probably wise to stick with your current stock allocation. Though “fragile investment sentiment” could spur a short-term market dip, think of this moment as an opportunity to “book some profits in bonds” and beef up your stock holdings. Dip or no dip, it’s “easy to find attractively priced stocks right now.” You can thank your bearish friends for that.

Jumbo loan revival

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Jumbo loans are making a comeback, said M.P. McQueen in The Wall Street Journal. While most borrowers have enjoyed access to near-record-low interest rates for many months, those in need of so-called jumbo mortgages have been contending with a different fallout from the 2008 credit crisis: Many banks stopped underwriting these loans, which generally exceed $417,000 and can’t be resold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Finally, though, jumbo lending activity is up, and the spread between jumbo and conventional loans has narrowed to about three-quarters of a point. Potential jumbo borrowers seem to be having the best luck working with small lenders. Of course, they still need to have “excellent credit” and down payments of at least 20 percent.

Stocks for stocking stuffers

Parents who aren’t crazy about “shelling out $100 for the latest snazzy gadget” for their kids this holiday season could give “potentially more valuable” presents—stock certificates, said AnnaMaria Andriotis in SmartMoney. Iconic brands such as Disney, Apple, and Nike issue “pretty cool” certificates, and existing shareholders may be able to order them directly from the company’s shareholder services department, often at no extra cost. If you’re starting from scratch, the easiest way to get certificates is via such sites as OneShare.com or GiveAShare.com.

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