Thursday, March 15, 2007

Today's Headlines

- Crude oil is falling another .64 in NY after OPEC agreed to maintain production targets at a meeting in Vienna.
- Baghdad deaths from bomb attacks have fallen 30 percent since a security crackdown by the U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi forces began last month.
- Former Fed Chairman Greenspan said he expects the fallout from subprime mortgage defaults to spread if home prices decline, however he sees no signs of that at this time. He also said that a 10% gain in home prices would cure the entire subprime problem. Finally, he said he sees no negative effects on consumer spending from subprime problems.
- Bear Stearns(BSC), the biggest US underwriter of mortgage bonds, said first-quarter profit rose 8% as higher revenue from trading derivatives and debt of troubled companies overcame a slowing market for home loans.
- General Electric’s(GE) commercial-finance division agreed to buy PHH Corp.(PHH) for $1.8 billion and then sell the company’s mortgage unit to Blackstone Group LP.
- Cisco Systems(CSCO) agreed to buy WebEx Communications(WEBX), the largest provider of Internet teleconferencing services, for $3.2 billion to counter Microsoft’s(MSFT) expansion in the market.
- Stocks will weather a surge in US subprime loan defaults because earnings growth and a robust labor market are enough to sustain the world’s largest economy, according to Credit Suisse Group.
- Hepatitis infections in the US fell to the lowest incidence on record, reducing the threat from a leading cause of liver cancer, as vaccines prevented more disease.
- Intercontinental Exchange(ICE) made an unsolicited $9.9 billion bid for the Chicago Board of Trade(BOT), to bock a purchase by Chicago Mercantile Exchange Holdings(CME).
- Brazil, the world’s biggest maker of ethanol from sugarcane juice, may begin commercial production of the fuel from the tropical plant’s cellulose within 5 years, an executive at Dedini SA said.
- Copper prices in NY jumped the most in eight months as China’s industrial production exceeded estimates and US jobless claims fell.

Wall Street Journal:
- Average Americans will pay for Democratic budget proposals that raise taxes on families and business, New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley wrote. The proposal wouldn’t extend policies and the lowest-income households would pay 33% more in taxes, they said. The $1,000 per child tax credit would be cut in half and the standard deduction for married couples reduced by $1,700, Grassley and Gregg write. The result would mean 45 million households with two children would pay $3,000 more in taxes per year, something that would amount to the equivalent of a 5% pay cut. The rise would slow the economy, damp investment and employment, and weaken the beneficial impact that the capital gains tax rate has had on investments.

Gulf News:
- Krispy Kreme Doughnuts(KKD) is opening its first store in the United Arab Emirates tomorrow as part of a plan to have 100 outlets in the Middle East.

Lloyd’s List:
- Qatar Petroleum needs $35 billion of investment over three years, mostly for its liquefied natural gas expansion plans.

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