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    The spike in volatility as a result of the Greek debt crisis has the market on edge and the VIX, or so-called fear index, spiking over 30% to almost 19. "Market-neutral funds tend to do better than the index when the market's going down," said Angrist.

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    Few things can get the blood flowing on Wall Street like mergers and acquisitions. It would seem M&A has, indeed, become the new growth strategy in the first half of 2015. It's uncertain whether another deal surpass Charter's total dollar offer before the year ends. Let's look all three companies and their suitors, starting with Cigna.

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    Investors planning for a second-half recovery should look to three of the worst first-half performers on the Dow -- Intel (INTC), Wal-Mart (WMT) and E. I. du Pont, . Take a look at the chart. Not only are all three companies trading at or near their 52-week lows, their respective stock valuations are cheap compared to their industry peers and when paired with the S&P 500 index, which is valued at a P/E of 21.

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    The U.S. economy is starting to pick up so invest in mortgage-backed bonds and securitized loans rather than U.S. Treasuries, said Jeffery Elswick, portfolio manager for the Frost Total Return Bond Fund. "We had a pretty poor first quarter in the United States, but we see growth beginning to move back up starting right now in the second quarter," said Elswick.

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    By Sam Forgione NEW YORK, July 2 (Reuters) - Investors in U.S.-based funds pulled $59.6 billion out of funds that specialize in U.S. shares in the first half of the year, putting the funds on track for their biggest annual outflows on record, preliminary data from Thomson Reuters' Lipper service showed on Thursday. The outflows from funds that mainly hold U.S. shares, so far this year through July 1, already overshadowed outflows in any other full year since Lipper records began in 1992, the data show. Funds that specialize in international shares have attracted $125.9 billion, which already surpassed last year's inflows of $115.3 billion, the preliminary data show. "The U.S. market may be a little overpriced, a little frothy, and investors are looking overseas to get better values," Lipper research analyst Patrick Keon said. The benchmark U.S. S&P 500 stock index has risen just 0.9 percent this year after rallying more than 11 percent in 2014. Overall, investors committed $64.4 billion to stock funds in the first half, less than a third of the funds' $231.4 billion inflows in all of 2014, the data show. Taxable bond funds, by comparison, attracted $49.3 billion in the first half after attracting $86.3 billion in the first half of last year, the preliminary data show. In the latest week ended July 1, stock funds posted $10.9 billion in outflows, their biggest since early May, while taxable bond funds posted $4.6 billion in outflows after attracting $3.4 billion in inflows the prior week. Investors shunned both U.S. and international stocks, however, in the latest week. Funds that specialize in U.S. shares bled $9.8 billion, marking their second straight week of outflows and their biggest since early May, while international-focused stock funds posted $1.1 billion in withdrawals to mark their first outflows since early February. Investors also pulled the most cash out of investment-grade bond funds so far this year, at $655 million, and yanked $3 billion out of riskier high-yield bond funds to mark their biggest outflows since mid-December. Investors fled to the safety of funds that specialize in U.S. Treasuries, which attracted their second straight week of inflows at $384 million. The weekly Lipper fund flow data is compiled from reports issued by U.S.-domiciled mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. The following is a broad breakdown of the flows for the week, including exchange-traded funds (in $ billions): Sector Flow Chg % Assets Assets Count ($Bil) ($Bil) All Equity Funds -10.851 -0.20 5,343.522 11,751 Domestic Equities -9.774 -0.25 3,817.073 8,436 Non-Domestic -1.076 -0.07 1,526.449 3,315 Equities All Taxable Bond -4.640 -0.20 2,331.477 6,100 Funds All Money Market 12.249 0.54 2,286.457 1,266 Funds All Municipal Bond -1.199 -0.35 343.712 1,493 Funds (Reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by Alan Crosby and Christian Plumb)

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    President Obama applauded a remarkable few weeks of legislative success Thursday before a crowd in Wisconsin. Focusing on the latest jobs report the president maintained his tone of optimism, announcing the 64th straight month of job growth and an economy on the rise.

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    The lower-than-expected jobs numbers could not help gold Thursday. Thursday morning's U.S. employment report for June saw the key non-farm payrolls number at up 223,000. The data were "a little bit lower than expected. Gold has entered a fourth month of the current range it's been operating in. There are two ways of looking at this, said Wagner.

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    Because the S&P 500 has been essentially flat so far this year, there doesn't appear to be much volatility, but Mark Sebastian, chief operating officer of Option Pit, said the picture is different underneath the surface. The S&P broke through all-time highs and then fell back below 2,050, a notable swing.

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    Deal flow has been massive in the first half of 2015 from health care to technology to insurance. "The merger arbitrage business has a positive correlation to interest rates, so as interest rates rise, we will see an increase in our rates of return," said Pultz.

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    When the clock struck midnight on Wednesday, Oregon joined Colorado, Alaska and Washington in legalizing recreational marijuana use. The people of Oregon have always had kind of a reputation for being marijuana enthusiasts, so it really came as no surprise when Measure 91 passed this past November with 56% of the vote. -- Decreases in crime of as much as 10% or more. -- Higher tax revenue.