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By Jason Stipp | 07-01-2011 02:00 PM

Five Tales of Independence

This week's news featured a quest for freedom from Facebook, financial and sovereign crises, and more.

Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar, and welcome to the Friday Five.

In the spirit of July 4th weekend, we have five tales of independence in the market.

Joining me with the stories is Morningstar's most patriotic markets editor, Jeremy Glaser.

Jeremy, thanks for being here.

Jeremy Glaser: Jason, thanks for having me.

Stipp: So I hope you have five fire cracker tales for us. What have you got?

Glaser: I do. This week, we're going to take a look at Facebook versus Google, to see if there was overpeformance last quarter, at bank swipe fees at Bank of America, and finally, at Greece.

Stipp: So Jeremy the first story evolves the most popular social media platform, Facebook. Some people might be looking for alternatives from that behemoth. Do they have one now?

Glaser: Jason, I really think that users that are looking to declare their independence from Facebook are going to find a good choice in Google+. Google+ was the service that Google launched this week in order to really compete in the social networking space. This is an area where Google historically has been very weak; some of their other entries in this space like Buzz, have really completely failed.

I think that they have winner on their hands here. I've had a chance to use it a little bit this week and play around with it. It's very user-friendly. I think it respects your privacy in a way that maybe is a little bit easier to understand than Facebook, easier to understand than some of their previous products, and I think people are going to be excited about this.

I think it's going to be a while before we'll know if they're going to be able to build that critical user base and build up that mass to really compete against Facebook in the long term. But I think Google made a wise investment here, and I think it's a case where people are going to really have a choice there and be able to leave Facebook if they feel like it.

Stipp: So Jeremy, this week we wrapped up the second quarter. There were a lot of ups and downs, but at the end of the day, do investors have anything to celebrate this weekend?

Glaser: Last quarter really granted investors freedom from overperformance. They didn't have to worry too much about having their portfolios just zooming out of control and for them to just make too much money over the last three months.

Essentially the stock market was pretty much flat. There were some down areas. There were some up areas especially towards the end of the quarter, but for the most part people ended the quarter basically where they started it.

This isn't a terribly surprising quarter for this to happen. We saw that stocks were really more than fully valued starting off. We've got a lot of bad economic news, a lot of sovereign debt news that was not so rosy over the last three months. So we shouldn't be too shocked that investors weren't terribly excited to bid up the prices of stock even further, and I think the real question now is, looking forward, looking to the second half of the year, if economic growth doesn't pick up, if we continue to hear more about some of the woes in Greece and possibly in the United States over the next couple of weeks, where stocks are going to go from here.

Stipp: In stock news, Jeremy, the credit card companies got some news about freedom from a certain kind of oversight. The stocks were up on that. What's the story there?

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