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FINANCIAL MARKETS - AN OVERVIEW:

In common parlance, a market is a place where trading takes place. Whenever we think about markets, a picture that flashes across our minds is of a place which is very busy, with buyers and sellers, some sellers, shouting at the top of their voice, trying to convince customers to buy their wares. A place abuzz with vibrancy and energy.

In the early stages of civilization, people were self-sufficient. They grew every thing they needed. Food was the main commodity, which could be very easily grown at the backyard, and for the non-vegetarians, jungles were open with no restrictions on hunting. However, with the development of civilization, the needs of every being grew; they needed clothes, wares, instruments, weapons and many other things which could not be easily made or produced by one person or family. Hence, the need of a common place was felt, where people who had a commodity to offer and the people who needed that commodity, could gather satisfy their mutual needs.

With time, the manner in which the markets functioned changed and developed. Markets became more and more sophisticated and specialized in their transaction so as to save time and space. Different kinds of markets came into being which specialized in a particular kind of commodity or transaction. In today's world, there are markets which cater to the needs of manufacturers, sellers, ultimate consumers, kids, women, men, students and what not. For the discussion of the topic at hand, the different kinds of markets that exist in the present day can be broadly classified as goods markets, service markets and financial markets. The present article seeks to give an overview of Financial Markets.

WHAT IS A FINANCIAL MARKET?

According to Encyclopedia II, 'Financial Markets' mean:

"1. Organizations that facilitate trade in financial products. i.e. Stock Exchanges facilitate the trade in stocks, bonds and warrants.
2. The coming together of buyers and sellers to trade financial product i.e. stocks and shares are traded between buyers and sellers in a number of ways including: the use of stock exchanges; directly between buyers and sellers etc."

Financial Markets, as the name suggests, is a market where various financial instruments are traded. The instruments that are traded in these markets vary in nature. They are in fact tailor-made to suit the needs of various people. At a macro level, people with excess money offer their money to the people who need it for investment in various kinds of projects.

To make the discussion simpler, let's take help of an example. Mr. X has Rupees 10 lacs as his savings which is lying idle with him. He wants to invest this money so that over a period of time he can multiply this amount. Mr. Y is the promoter of ABC Ltd. He has a business model, but he does not have enough financial means to start a company. So in this scenario, Mr. Y can utilize the money that is lying idle with people like Mr. X and start a company. However, Mr. X may be a person in Kolkata and Mr. Y may be in Mumbai. So the problem in the present scenario is that how does Mr. Y come to know that a certain Mr. X has money which he is willing to invest in a venture which is similar to one which Mr. Y wants to start?

The above problem can be solved by providing a common place, where people with surplus cash can mobilize their savings towards those who need to invest it. This is precisely the function of financial markets. They, through various instruments, solve just one problem, the problem of mobilizing savings from people who are willing to invest, to the people who can actually invest. Thus from the above discussion, we can co-relate how financial markets are no different in spirit from any other market.

The next issue that needs to be redressed is what is the distinction between various financial instruments that are floated in the market? The answer to this question lies in the nature or needs of the investors. Investors are of various kinds and h

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Target breezed past Wall Street expectations for the third quarter and with the crucial holiday season fast approaching, it upped its key sales outlook for the critical period as well.

Target also increased its annual profit outlook. Shares surged almost 8 percent Wednesday before the opening bell.

The news was encouraging after the retailer stumbled in the second quarter, as it saw traffic and a key sales measure fall after a string of quarterly gains. But for the third quarter, Target saw traffic improve and its key sales metric slipped just 0.2 percent, much higher than its guidance that called for that metric to be anywhere from flat to down as much as 2 percent.

FILE - This Wednesday, June 29, 2016, file photo, shows a Target store in Hialeah, Fla. Target reports financial results Wednesday, Nov. 16. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)

The results, announced Wednesday, show that Target's efforts to fix some of the issues that dragged down its business this past summer are working. One of the big problems: Target didn't push the second part of its "Expect More, Pay Less" slogan and so it vowed it would heavily market items like groceries to bring shoppers back to the stores.

Under Brian Cornell, Target has been trying to reinvigorate itself to restore its cheap-chic status. It's focusing on categories like fashion, home furnishings and wellness products, creating vignettes featuring home products and launching the children's line Cat & Jack. For the holiday shopping season, it is hoping to lure shoppers with lots of different ways from a Broadway style marketing campaign to more exclusive toys.

But it's also focusing on value. About 60 percent of Target's marketing messages this holiday season will be about value, up about 20 percent from the last year. As part of that strategy, it unveiled Wondershop, which offers more than 2,000 season items that include ornaments under $3.

"As we move into the biggest quarter of the year, we are pleased with our inventory position and confident that our team will deliver a great guest experience as they bring our merchandising and marketing plans to life throughout the holiday season," said Cornell in a statement.

Target earned $608 million, or $1.06 per share, for the three months ended Oct. 29. That compares with earnings of $549 million, or 76 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding certain items, earnings were $1.04 per share. That's well above the 83 cents per share that analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research called for.

Selling, general and administrative expenses and depreciation and amortization expenses fell in the quarter.

Revenue for the Minneapolis-based company declined to $16.44 billion from $17.61 billion, hampered partly by the removal of pharmacy and clinic sales. Still, it topped the $16.32 billion that analysts surveyed by Zacks predicted.

Sales at stores open at least a year, a key gauge of a retailer's health, edged down 0.2 percent. This figure includes excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

Target now anticipates full-year adjusted earnings in a range of $5.10 to $5.30 per share. Previously it predicted earnings between $4.36 and $4.76 per share. Analysts are looking for earnings of $4.95 per share, according to a FactSet survey.

Target Corp. now foresees fourth-quarter same-store sales down 1 percent to up 1 percent. Its prior outlook was for the metric to be down 2 percent to flat. The chain predicts a fourth-quarter adjusted profit of $1.75 per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expect a profit of $1.60 per share.

Its shares rose $5.57, or 7.8 percent, to $77.01 in premarket trading about 90 minutes ahead of the market open.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights website using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on TGT at website

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Keywords: Target, Earnings Report, Priority Earnings

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