Money Minute: Bull Market Out of Steam? Cash King After Security Breaches

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Most of us are hoping that February is warmer than the frigid days of January, and that the stock market can heat up after going cold last month.

Investors want to know whether the recent bout of selling is just a normal correction that's part of a bull market that still has room to run, or the start of much sharper market sell-off.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell more than 1 percent last week, while the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) both lost about 0.5 percent.

For all of January, the Dow tumbled 877 points. That's a steep decline of more than 5 percent. The Nasdaq lost 1.7 percent for the month and the S&P fell 3.5 percent. It was the market's worst performance in 20 months.

Cash is king once again. With all of the news recently about credit card hacking,
more and more shoppers are turning back to using cash whenever possible. An AP poll found 37 percent of Americans are trying to make the switch.

In a bid to get more customers, AT&T (T) has cut the price it charges for a family wireless plan by 20 percent. Four smartphone users could share 10 gigabytes of data for $160 a month. It's hard to compare this plan on an apples-to-apples basis with other major providers, since they all offer different things, but it seems to be a very competitive price. However, AT&T customers will have to pay full price for their phones.

The men's clothing store retailers Jos. A. Bank (JOSB) and Men's Wearhouse (MW) have been at war in recent months, making hostile takeover bids for each other. Now a new player has entered the fray. Various reports say Jos. A. Bank is talking about buying Eddie Bauer. Such a deal could be a defensive move, making Jos. A. Bank harder to acquire. It could also give it more heft if it wants to continue the battle for Men's Wearhouse.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.


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