Monday, March 24, 2008

Today's Headlines

- Federal Home Loan Banks were freed to increase their purchase of mortgage-backed bonds by about $150 billion.
- The cost to protect US corporate debt from default plunged after JPMorgan(JPM) quadrupled its offer for Bear Stearns(BSC), reflecting investor confidence that credit markets averted a crisis. Credit-default swaps on the Markit CDX North America Investment-Grade Index Series 9 dropped 15 basis points to 140 basis points. The CDX index has now dropped 50 basis points since the Fed’s decision March 16 to back JPMorgan’s purchase of Bear Stearns. The Markit LCDX index, a gauge of confidence in the US high-yield, high-risk loan market that rises as sentiment improves, jumped 1.05 percentage point to 93.5, according to Goldman Sachs(GS).
- The US dollar rose against the yen and the euro on speculation the Fed’s interest-rate cuts and efforts to spur lending will help revive economic growth.
- Tiffany & Co.(TIF) rose the most in more than six years in NY trading after posting fourth-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates.
- JPMorgan(JPM) quadrupled its offer for Bear Stearns(BSC) to $10 a share and struck a deal to buy 39.5% of the company without a shareholder vote, making it unlikely opponents can block the takeover.

- Stanford Kurland, CEO of Private National Mortgage Acceptance and former president of Countrywide Financial sees opportunities in distressed mortgage assets. (video)
- Tobias Levkovich, Citigroup’s(C) chief US equity strategist, said a commodity “bubble” is poised to burst, increasing the risk of investing in mining and agricultural companies.
- Google(GOOG), owner of the world’s most popular Internet search engine, proposed a plan that may let wireless Internet devices use soon-to-be-vacant television airwaves without interfering with current equipment.

Wall Street Journal:
- Verizon’s(VZ) fiber-optic service, mainly available to suburbanites, is making a big push into Manhattan with a deal to connect an 11,232-unit apartment complex.
- New exchange-traded notes that investors use to bet against gold soared last week as prices of the precious metal dropped in response to the US Fed’s cut. The DB gold Double Short ETN, issued by Deutsche Bank AG, rose 21% in three days.
- As the alternative energy movement picks up steam, researchers are increasingly looking to their local communities for tons of organic waste that could be transformed into more environmentally friendly biofuels.

Washington Times:
- Senator Barack Obama, whose campaign criticized outside political groups giving money to presidential candidates, has benefited the most from such groups, campaign records show.

Washington Post:
- Both Obama and Clinton Embellish Lawmaker Roles.

- Al-Qaeda deputy commander Ayman al-Zawahiri today called for strikes against US and Jewish interests in an audio address released on the Internet.

International Herald Tribune:
- Asian balance sheets remain healthy and economic growth resilient despite the global credit crunch, but by one market measure, Asian bond issuers are at even worse risk than they were during the financial crisis a decade ago.

Daily Telegraph:
- Prudential Plc, a London-based insurer, may spend as much as $2 billion on a US acquisition in the next few months, probably in life insurance, citing an interview with Clark Manning, the CEO of Jackson National Life Insurance, the company’s US unit.

Gulf Times:
- Petroleum prices will range between $80 and $110 per barrel for the rest of 2008, OPEC President Chakib Khelil said yesterday.

arab news:
- Saudi Arabia yesterday reiterated its commitment to stabilize the international oil market by ensuring adequate supply.

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