Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Today's Headlines

- Gasoline futures are falling 1.4%, notwithstanding concerns over Iran and low US refinery utilization. Refineries in states including California and Texas are operating at reduced rates due to “recent unit failures and fires.” The margin, or crack spread, earned by refiners for turning crude oil into gasoline and heating oil is about 54% wider than a year ago.
- UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said that efforts to release 15 British sailors and Marines seized by Iran will enter a “different phase” if negotiations fail.
- US forces in Iraq arrested two men suspected of leading a terrorist cell responsible for car bombings that have killed about 900 civilians in Iraq.
- Mark Walton, head of the world’s largest animal cloning company, sees his biotech lab in Austin, Texas, as the next frontier in food production.
- Lennar Corp.(LEN), the largest US homebuilder by revenue, said earnings fell 73% during the fiscal first-quarter. The stock is near session highs, falling .7% on the report.
- White House Press Secretary Tony Snow has been diagnosed with recurrence of cancer and the disease has spread to his liver.
- Police in Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Italy raided about 30 offices and homes today in a corruption probe aimed at European Commission employees.
- K2 Advisors LLC, a Stamford, Connecticut-based investment firm with $5.5 billion in client money allocated to hedge funds, sold a minority stake of itself to buyout firm TA Associates.
- Luxury-home values in London, the world’s most expensive city, will probably increase 20% this year as wealthy buyers compete for a shrinking number of properties, real estate company Savills Plc said.
- US consumption of renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel would increase under legislation introduced today in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The bill would mandate that 8.5 billion gallons of renewable fuels be used to replace petroleum-based fuels by next year, rising to 36 billion gallons within 9 years. The bill has bipartisan support.
- Petroleo Brasileiro SA(PBR), Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, and Eni SpA, Europe’s fourth-largest oil company, agreed to share technology for crop-based fuels production.
- Canada and Russia, the only net crude-oil exporters in the Group of Eight nations, will seek ways to promote joint energy projects that may lead to a global supply network, ministers from both countries said.
- FuelCell Enegy’s(FCEL) shares soared 20% after the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund recommended that utilities buy power from six planned projects using the company’s fuel-cell technology.
- Libya, the holder of Africa’s largest oil reserves, is prepared to sell a majority stake in its oilfield-services company to a foreign partner such as Schlumberger Ltd.(SLB) or Halliburton(HAL), to increase exploration.

Wall Street Journal:
- The SEC is to review so-called 12b-1 fees, which mutual funds charge to pay for marketing services.

NY Times:
- Senator Hillary Clinton, the would-be Democratic nominee for the presidency, is cultivazting relationships with the military to avoid criticism her husband faced during his tenure in the office. The goal is to ease voter perceptions that associate her with her opposition to the Vietnam War, and criticism of President Bush’s current campaign to liberate Iraq.

Washington Post:
- Maryland’s state senate passed a bill to ban smoking in bars and restaurants.

Financial Times:
- Thomason Financial will start selling an international news service to clients in May as part of a plan to compete more widely with Bloomberg LP and Reuters Group Plc.

- DaimlerChrysler AG(DCX) may complete a sale of its unprofitable Chrysler division by June, citing unidentified bankers.

Xinhua News Agency:
- Crude oil output at Shengli oilfield, China’s second largest, may rise 6% this year as the field’s operator expands exploration, citing the Shengli Petroleum Administrative Bureau. The field’s 2007 crude oil output may rise to 550,000 barrels per day.

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