Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Today's Headlines

- French opposition to the European Union constitution rose to 53%, five days ahead of the May 29 national referendum on the treaty, as voters spurned President Chirac’s argument that rejection would isolate France.
- MidAmerican Energy, a US utility controlled by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, agreed to buy PacifiCorp for $5.1 billion, gaining the largest provider of power to customers in the US Northwest.
- The OECD cut its estimate for global growth this year and next, citing rising energy costs and a deepening slowdown in Europe. However, the Paris-based group raised 2005 US growth estimates to 3.6% from 3.3%.
- French President Chirac suffered a double blow in his campaign for Europe’s constitution as members of his party joined rallies against the treaty and polls showed support for the “no” vote growing.
- General Motors was cut to junk by Fitch Ratings, the second time the company has been downgraded in three weeks.

Wall Street Journal:
- Cantor Fitzgerald’s Cantor G&W LP is close to persuading Nevada lawmakers to approve rules to let gamblers play video poker, blackjack and other games on hand-held devices while at a resort.
- The US government announced new arrests in its bid to halt illegal “hawalas,” money-transfer businesses used to switch cash to Arab countries.
- The amount of cash and liquid securities held by US companies in the S&P 500 index jumped to a record $766 billion in the first quarter of the year, and stock buybacks are in vogue.
- US business people who book private jets are finding the experience is becoming more troublesome and full of hassles similar to the ones that had them switching from commercial flights.

NY Times:
- Syria has ended intelligence and military cooperation with the US within the last 10 days because of what Syria says in unfair US allegations.
- California and Florida are among US states considering legislation that would increase regulation for so-called drop-off stores that house and sell items on EBay’s Internet marketplace.
- IBM plans to introduce software today that will enable companies to compare information with each other and government agencies without sacrificing privacy of individuals.
- US companies are recruiting college graduates with a range of degree at the fastest pace since 2001.

Washington Post:
- US Representative Michael Oxley plans to introduce a bill that would give a new regulator for mortgage lenders’ Fannie Mae and Freddi Mac oversight of companies’ investment portfolios.

Saudi Press Agency:
- Saudi Arabia is ready to boost crude production to keep pace with world demand and maintain “stable” prices, the kingdom’s cabinet said.

Sky News:
- The leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is wounded, citing a statement posted on an Islamist Web site that has carried al-Qaeda messages in the past.

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