Monday, December 05, 2005

Today's Headlines

- GM CEO Wagoner will keep intact a spending plan for information technology, even as he slashes $7 billion in costs at the world’s largest automaker.
- Mergers and acquisitions may provide a record $18 billion in fees to the financial industry next year as corporations use their burgeoning stockpiles of cash for the biggest spending spree since the Internet bubble burst in 2000.
- Verizon Communications may sell the domestic operations of its directory publishing unit as it tries to exit that business to focus on selling telephone service and high-speed Internet connections.
- A four-year rally that enabled platinum to more than double in price may be over now that carmakers led by GM are switching to less costly palladium.
- Boston Scientific said it is proposing to acquire all the outstanding shares of Guidant for a combination of cash and stock worth $72 for each Guidant share.
- US newspaper companies may reduce their forecasts for 2006 advertising growth this week as circulation declines and ad spending moves to the Internet.
- Sears Holdings offered to buy the publicly traded shares in its Canadian unit for about $719 million, giving Chairman Ed Lampert more control over the struggling retailer.
- US Treasuries are falling as a private report showed the services industry, the largest part of the US economy, expanded in November.
- Crude oil and natural gas are surging as freezing temperatures gripped the US Midwest and the first snowstorm reached the Northeast.

Wall Street Journal:
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans plan to charter a joint bank to manage more of the growing deposits into health savings accounts.
- Morningstar is modifying its mutual-fund ratings to reflect the rapid accumulation of cash in retirement plans.
- Global investors have become more exuberant in the past month, pushing up the prices of assets that are often seen as bets on rapid growth.

USA Today:
- Starwood Hotels’ Westin Hotels chain will say today that it will ban smoking at its 77 US Canadian and Caribbean outlets in all rooms, restaurants and pubic areas starting in January.
- NY, Texas, Ohio and at least nine other states are considering major highway projects as state revenue increases more than it has since 2001.

LA Times:
- Intel is trying to become a central figure in the expanding world of digital media with its Viiv platform.

- RealNetworks is starting a new version of it Rhapsody music service that lets users listen to tracks over the Internet without downloading software.
- Iran plans to build a second nuclear power plant amid international concern about its nuclear program, citing Iranian state television.

Washington Post:
- Six of the Democratic Party’s most prominent foreign-policy scholars, including five who served in the top ranks of government, are divided on the Bush administration’s Iraq war policy.

San Jose Mercury News:
- WJ Communications’ CEO and three directors bought shares last month in the communications network equipment maker, citing data from Thomson Financial.

- Libya plans to raise its crude-oil production by 17% to 2 million barrels a day by mid-2006, citing the top Libyan oil official.

- The trial of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein resumed in Baghdad today after a one-week break.

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