The Week:  You Can Count On Oil

It was a week of full of economic and M&A headlines.

Consumer sentiment plunged to its lowest level in 28 years, and foreclosure filings surged 65 percent, but housing starts went up by a surprisingly strong 8.2 percent. A U.N. report said global growth will continue this year, but by an anemic 1.8 percent. Industrial output fell for the second time in three months, but with car sales factored out, retail sales actually increased. Hewlett-Packard said it's buying EDS; GE reportedly put its appliance business on the market.

The one constant, of course, was rising oil prices. They set more records, despite a vote in Congress to halt the addition of oil to the government's Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

CNBC guests had plenty of suggestions about ways to play the news.


Oil prices retreated a little, and the markets rallied. But gas prices began a march upward. Meanwhile merger news highlighted the day with HP revealing a deal for EDS and Clear Channel moving to consolidate its buyout.

Playing off growing energy concerns, Benjamin Halliburton of Tradition Capital Management recommended shares of refiners Marathon and ConocoPhillips.

Even with the market gains, valuations of some strong companies remained low. Doug MacKay of Broadleaf Partners picked Apple, Research in Motion, and Intuitive Surgical.

Prices of other energy resources surged along with oil, including America's most abundant resource, coal. Paul Forward of Stifel Nicolaus chose Peabody Energy, Consol Energy, and Foundation Coal Holdings.

With shares of major telecom companies suffering, Todd Reitheimer of Soleil Securities recommended some small ones: MetroPCS, Embarq, and WindStream.


Wal-Martposted surprisingly strong sales, albeit with a cautious outlook, and Sony reported a return to profitability in its fourth quarter. News also trickled out that Icahn would push Yahoo over the Microsoft rejection.

Encouraged by the apparent consumer discretionary strength, Ted Parrish of the Henssler Equity Fund picked global-positioning device maker Garmin.

Some of the world's richest people joined the Squawk Box crew for a "billionaire summit," and Baron Capital chairman and CEO Ron Baron told about some choices of his own: Ralph Lauren and Wynn Resorts.

With energy continuing to boom, Kent Croft of the Croft Value Fund recommended some natural-gas plays: Southwestern and Williams Companies.


April's consumer price index numbers were tamer than expected, despite the surging price of oil. Word also came that GE may auction off its storied appliance unit.

David Sowerby of Loomis Sayles picked Interactive Data

, MasterCard, and Alberto-Culver.

Better-than-expected retail sales continued to inspire analysts and fund managers.

David Katz of Matrix Asset Advisers chose Wal-Mart and Staples.


The Empire State manufacturing indexcame in with encouraging regional data similar to that reported earlier by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve.

Dan Manion of the Sentinel Common Stock Fund recommended United Technologies, Honeywell, and parent General Electric.


Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the overall picture of U.S. financial markets has been steadily improving over the last couple of months.

Traders were skeptical, and Jay Bowen of Bowen, Hanes & Co. recommended foreign multinationals BASF and ABB.

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