Monday, February 12, 2007

Today's Headlines

- Crude oil fell $2/bbl. to below $58/bbl. in NY after Saudi Arabia told Asian refiners to expect more shipments next month and the nation’s oil minister said OPEC has no need to further rein in production.
- The price of prime London homes rose at the fastest pace in at least 31 years last month as wealthy European, Indian and Middle Eastern buyers competed for houses and apartments in Belgravia and Knightsbridge.
- Envoys in Beijing trying to prevent a collapse in talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear arms program may come to an agreement on the secluded state’s demand for energy assistance that has stymied the negotiations.
- Home Depot(HD) may sell its wholesale unit after investors said the company should get rid of the division because of its low profits.
- Tenaris SA, the world’s largest maker of seamless steel in oil and gas pipes, agreed to buy Hydril(HYDL) for as much as $2.2 billion to gain valves, meters and related equipment used in deepwater drilling and nature reserves.
- Four Seasons Hotels Inc.(FS) agreed to be taken private by Microsoft(MSFT) Chairman Bill Gates, Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal and the company’s CEO for $3.8 billion including debt.
- The French oil-exploration company Etablissements Maurel & Prom said it made a “significant” discovery in Colombia.
- Gold is falling $7/oz. as the US Dollar Index nears a technical breakout and oil prices fall, leading to diminished inflation worries by speculators.
- The world’s largest funds investing in hedge funds attracted more than twice as much new capital last year as in 2005 while the assets they control rose to $820 billion, a survey found. Funds of hedge funds returned 10% on average last year, substantially underperforming the S&P 500’s 15.8% gain and less than the average gain of 13% for hedge funds, according to Hedge Fund Research.

Wall Street Journal:
- Blackstone Group LP(BLK) leveraged buyout firm may today buy Pinnacle Foods Corp., maker of Duncan Hines cake mixes and Mrs. Paul’s frozen fish, for about $1.2 billion plus an assumption of $900 million in debt.
- Continental Western European countries’ economies may be held back by a culture that attempts to protect workers and the community from market forces over innovation, Nobel prizewinner Edmund Phelps said. Employment in France, Germany and Italy has lagged behind the US, Britain, Ireland and Canada, and productivity is growing more slowly than in the US.
- Tribune Co.(TRB) is considering forgoing outside offers and doing its own restructuring.
- US productivity gains are likely to continue for the indefinite future, citing the annual Economic Report of the President.
- Google(GOOG) has signed an agreement to bring full-length episodes of old television shows such as “I Spy” and “Gumby” to its YouTube video-sharing site.

- Chicago may sell Midway International Airport for as much as $3 billion, citing the city’s CFO.

- Wal-Mart Stores(WMT) is considering some of Russia’s largest retail chains as partners to expand in the region.

Folha de S. Paulo:
- Brazil, the world’s biggest producer of ethanol from sugarcane juice, may develop technology to make the biofuel from the tropical plant’s cellulose as early as 2009. Waste from the processing of cane juice into sugar and ethanol contains enough cellulose to boost output of the biofuel by 50%, citing researcher Carlos Rossell of the Univ. of Campinas. Rossell said Brazil can start commercial production of ethanol from sugarcane cellulose in two to five years.

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