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Morning Report: iPhone 6 Could Improve Apple Logo, iTunes 11.3.1 Update

Iphone 6 Apple Logo Liquidmetal 620px

The so-called iPhone 6 is back in the news today, thanks to some lovingly detailed photo leaks from a luxury device supplier more than happy to show off just a few of the changes Apple may have in store for us next month. Readers can also kick off the weekend with a big App Store sale on productivity titles, along with a minor iTunes update that stomps out a few podcast bugs — it's all in this edition of the Morning Report!

Latest iPhone 6 Leak Reveals Scratch-Resistant Apple Logo

With Apple's next media event widely expected only a month from now, the iPhone 6 leaks appear to be ramping up once again. MacRumors reported Thursday that luxury iPhone vendor Feld & Volk have gotten their hands on what appears to be a completed rear shell for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, revealing recessed volume buttons and a curious improvement to the Apple logo embedded on the back of the device.

Feld & Volk claims this year's iPhone will feature an Apple logo made of "very extraordinary" metal reportedly far more resistant to scratches. The report immediately raises the possibility of the logo being made from Liquidmetal, an alloy Apple has been toying with, but has yet to implement in Cupertino's mobile devices.

Also on display from Feld & Volk is the device's external camera ring, a 6.66 mm diameter circle that protrudes slightly, rather than lying flush with the exterior shell as previous models. The larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 has been widely believed to feature just such a camera ring, but this marks the first time it's appeared on the 4.7-inch model.

Apple Squashes Podcast Bugs with iTunes 11.3.1 Update

Have you noticed iTunes 11.3 failing to update subscribed podcasts with new episodes, or worse yet, freeze up entirely when browsing lists of podcast episodes? If so, you'll want to run, not walk, to the Mac App Store and download iTunes 11.3.1, a minor update released Thursday that aims to squash those very bugs, in addition to all the goodies included with iTunes 11.3, such as iTunes Extras for HD movies.

"iTunes 11.3.1 addresses a problem where subscribed podcasts may stop updating with new episodes and resolves an issue where iTunes may become unresponsive while browsing your podcasts episodes in a list," Apple's release notes read. (The update is also available direct from Apple's website.)

App Store Launches Big Sale on Popular Productivity Apps

We'd all like to stay productive, but it gets expensive buying all of the apps necessary to make that dream a reality. If you've been waiting for a sale on popular apps such as Fantastical 2, Clear, Scanbot, PDF Expert 5, iTranslate Voice, or Launch Center Pro, now is your chance, thanks to Apple's "Amazing Productivity Apps" sale on the App Store, with prices as low as 99 cents and topping out at $6.99. Writer Pro receives one of the most steep discounts, from $19.99 to $4.99, but most of the others are at least 50 percent off, but only for a limited time. (At least one developer has confirmed the sale ends August 14th, but Apple isn't saying for sure.)

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

(Image courtesy of MacRumors and Feld & Volk)


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Deals: Become a Master iPhone Photographer with these Awesome Accessories

[This is an advertorial. Maclife gets a portion of each unit sold.]

The iPhone has become a capable replacement for stand alone cameras. There's no need to lug around another device when you can snap gorgeous shots on the phone that is already in your pocket. But if you want to become a real iPhone photographer, you need the right accessories to get the pictures you want. We have a bunch of must have tools for your mobile portraits. Check out the offers available now in our Deals tab.


You can turn your iPhone into the ideal option for capturing any moment with the 3-in-1 Lens Kit. It features a lens ideal for up close photos, images in the distance, and wider landscapes. Get all three to add to your photography arsenal for just $23.99.


If you're in rough terrain or just need a little extra support to get the image you want, use the iStabilizer and keep the camera rolling. It's the ideal accessory for capturing amazing, cinematic videos. You'll get smooth, tracking shots that will look great. It can be yours for just $38.99.


Kick packs in about as much power as you could ever need into one small package. Though it's small, Kick can push out 400 lumens of light, making it twice as bright as most police flashlights. Keep Kick in your back pocket for just $149.

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Apple Launches Another "Secret" eBay Store for Unlocked iPhone 5 Refurbs

Factory Outlet Ebay Store 620px

If you're in the market for a deal on an Apple Certified Refurbished unlocked iPhone 5 complete with a one-year warranty, look no further than the Factory Outlet eBay Store, where deals can be had for as little as $449.

AppleInsider reported Tuesday
that Apple has once again quietly launched a second "Factory Outlet eBay Store," presumably in an effort to dump "exclusive" limited quantities of refurbished products.

Early last year, a similar eBay storefront popped up offering up to $100 discounts on refurbished iPads, MacBooks, and iPods, touting a full one-year warranty and "final quality inspection by Apple" — despite Cupertino's typical branding appearing nowhere on eBay.

Apparently that first effort was a success, because the unbranded Factory Outlet eBay Store has returned, this time stocked with all flavors of iPhone 5 models discounted up to $350 off the retail price.

All models are factory unlocked for GSM networks (AT&T or T-Mobile here in the USA), and the 64GB models in particular were quite a deal at $499 each in white or black. (At this writing, only the 16GB models remain, priced at $449.)

It's unclear why Apple has chosen to remain a silent partner in these eBay endeavors, but presumably the iPhone maker is looking to unload remaining inventory ahead of the rumored iPhone 6, which is expected to debut in September alongside iOS 8.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

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Stocks Dip on Fears About Global Growth, Russian Aggression

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Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty ImagesMario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, warned Thursday that the crisis in Ukraine could dampen Europe's fragile recovery.

NEW YORK -- Concerns about slowing global growth and the threat of rising tensions between Russia and the West pushed stocks lower on Thursday.

The stock market started the day higher as investors mulled the latest earnings reports and an encouraging report on jobs. By mid-morning, though, the market had given up its gains. While stocks slumped, government bond prices rose, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury note to its lowest level this year.

Stocks have slumped since the Standard & Poor's 500 (^GSPC) index closed at a record last month amid worries that the rising tensions between Russia and the West will hurt global economic growth. European Central Bank head Mario Draghi cautioned Thursday that the crisis in Ukraine could crimp the fragile recovery in the region.

"You're getting some good earnings, but it's just not enough to overwhelm the geo-political issues," said Drew Wilson, an equity analyst with Fenimore Asset Management.

The S&P 500 index fell 10.67 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,909.57. The index closed at a record 1,987.98 on July 24. The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 75.07 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,368.27. The Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) fell 20 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,334.97.

Phone and internet companies were among the day's biggest decliners. Windstream Holdings (WIN) fell 39 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $11.16 after the company reported that its earnings fell by 64 percent in the second quarter. The results missed analysts' expectations.

Eight of the 100 industry sectors in the S&P 500 fell. Health care and phone company stocks dropped the most, 1.2 percent and 1 percent respectively. Utilities stocks rose 1.1 percent, making them the biggest gainers, as investors bought safer assets.

The market had started the day higher as investors assessed the latest encouraging news from the job market.

Fewer people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week. Claims remain at relatively low levels consistent with stronger economic growth. Weekly applications fell 14,000 to 289,000, the Labor Department said.

Some positive earnings reports helped lift stocks in early trading.

21st Century Fox (FOX) rose $1.63, or 5 percent, to $33.96 after reporting better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings late Wednesday. The company got a boost from films including "X-Men: Days of Future Past," ''Rio 2," and "The Fault in Our Stars." The company was adding to gains from a day earlier after dropping its bid for Time Warner (TWX) and announcing a stock buyback.

The gains for stocks were short-lived Thursday. The market started to head lower by lunchtime, and as stocks slumped, bond prices rose.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which falls when prices rise, dropped to 2.41 percent from 2.48 percent on Wednesday. The yield on the note is at its lowest level in more than a year.

At the start of this year, many investors and analysts had expected 10-year Treasurys to fall as the economy continued its recovery and the Federal Reserve wound down its economic stimulus program. Instead, the opposite has happened. Bonds have rallied as inflation has remained low and doubts have arisen about the prospects for long-term growth.

U.S. Treasury securities also offer a higher yield than bonds issued by other governments. The yield on the 10-year German government bond is 1.06 percent, and French government bonds with the same maturity offer a yield of 1.5 percent.

Investors are also buying Treasuries as geopolitical tensions rise around the world.

"The Treasury market is going to continue to confound the bears," said Bill O'Donnell, chief Treasury strategist at RBS.

In commodities trading, the price of oil rose Thursday for only the second day in the past nine. There are concerns about intensifying violence in Iraq as the White House weighs air strikes to counter recent advances by insurgents.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 42 cents to close at $97.34 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 85 cents to close at $105.44 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In metals trading, gold rose $4.30 to $1,312.50 an ounce and silver fell three cents to $19.99 an ounce. Copper rose a penny to $3.18 a pound. In currencies, the dollar fell to 102.03 yen and the euro fell to $1.3364.


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7 Brokers Offer You 'Free Money' on Dividend Reinvestment

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For investors, nothing makes the job of beating the market easier than brokers who willingly hand over free money via reinvested dividends.

Yup, I just said "free money." You see, some brokers have access to company-sponsored dividend reinvestment plans -- they're also called DRIPS -- for equities that pay dividends. A good broker will connect your shares to the DRIP so that each time you're due a dividend payment, the DRIP kicks in and uses the cash to purchase more shares.

Let's walk through an example. Say you own 500 shares of Apple (AAPL). Apple is paying 47 cents per share of dividends quarterly, good for $235 when deposits are made later this month. Reinvesting those dividends would allow you to purchase roughly 2.44 shares of Apple stock commission-free at current prices.

A Short History of Crushing the Market With Reinvested Dividends

The beauty of this strategy is that it can help you beat the market. For instance, in early 2007 my wife and I purchased 150 shares of International Business Machines (IBM) at $95.82 apiece. We resolved to put all dividends back into the stock.

Seven years later, our dividends have purchased 21.731 new shares commission-free. Our returns are better than most as a result. Indeed, our position is up 124.1 percent versus 88.8 percent for the investor who bought but didn't reinvest. (Though, to be fair, they might have made up the difference investing their cash proceeds elsewhere.)

There's also the dividend yield to consider. Stock we've purchased through reinvesting also pays dividends, resulting in an annualized payment that yields 5.26 percent on our original purchase price -- more than double the 2.40 percent new shareholders are getting. Nabbing those extra stubs commission-free has proven invaluable.

Seven Brokers Who Want to Help You Get Paid
  1. Charles Schwab (SCHW). Reinvesting is free, according to a Schwab representative, but some stocks don't qualify. Also, you can't reinvest in dividends paid for American Depository Receipts (known as ADRs), which act like stock but are issued by a foreign company.
  2. E*Trade's (ETFC) dividend reinvestment program is similar to Schwab. There is the added benefit of the company's suave commercials that make you feel like an insider. If, you know, you're into that sort of thing.
  3. At Fidelity Investments, reinvesting is free. But unlike with Schwab, it's possible to reinvest proceeds from dividend-paying ADRs.
  4. Scottrade offers an intriguing option called a flexible reinvestment program. Scottrade says customers with individual retirement accounts, margin accounts or cash are eligible to employ the FRIP, which allows for pooling funds from dividend-paying stocks into purchasing new shares of up to five other stocks or exchange traded funds commission-free, including non-dividend payers. The catch? Scottrade won't purchase fractional shares on your behalf. (There are other caveats.)
  5. Sharebuilder offers essentially the same reinvestment options as Fidelity. Sharebuilder's zero minimum balance and low fees on trading make it a good choice for beginning investors without much capital to invest.
  6. TD Ameritrade (AMTD) offerings are similar to what the other majors offer, but with a catch. The brokerage says in its terms and conditions that it "does not intend" to charge a fee for dividend reinvesting but could change its mind at any time. If it does, the fee will not exceed the commission rate, which as of this writing was $9.99 for Internet-placed orders.
  7. TradeKing's program is similar to what Fidelity offers, but with restrictions. Only stocks or ADRs priced at more than $4 a share qualify. They also must trade on an exchange or quote on the NASDAQ.
While I can't tell you which broker is right for you, if my own experience counts for anything, reinvesting dividends with any of them is likely to be a better strategy than not reinvesting at all.

Motley Fool contributor Tim Beyers owns shares of Apple and International Business Machines. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and TD Ameritrade. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, International Business Machines and TD Ameritrade. Try any Motley Fool newsletter service free for 30 days.


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Stock Markets Rise on Signs of Easing Ukraine Tensions

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AP/Richard Drew
NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks are closing higher as investors were relieved by reports of easing tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

News reports said Russia had ended military exercises near Ukraine.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 185 points, or 1.1 percent, to close at 16,553 Friday.

The Standard & Poor's 500 (^GSPC) index rose 22 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,931. The Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 35 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,370.

The gain in the S&P 500 was the biggest since March 4 and turned the index higher for the week.

Lululemon (LULU) rose 3 percent after the company's founder agreed to sell half his stake as part of a deal to avert a battle for control.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged up to 2.42 percent.


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