Friday, December 21, 2007

Today's Headlines

- US stocks gained the most in two weeks, led by energy and technology shares, after the biggest increase in consumer spending in two years helped reduce concern the economy will slow.
- Merrill Lynch(MER) rose in NY trading after the Wall Street Journal reported that the world’s biggest brokerage firm may receive a cash infusion of as much as $5 billion from Singapore’s state-owned Temasek Holdings Pte.
- Dennis Gartman, economist and editor of the Gartman Letter says oil won’t likely reach $100/bbl. in 2008.
- Crude oil rose more than $2/bbl. in NY after a US government report showed consumer spending gained the most in more than two years, signaling economic growth and oil demand may be stronger than expected.
- First Marblehead Corp.(FMD), the third-largest US arranger of securities backed by student loans, rose the most ever on the NYSE after Goldman Sachs(GS) agreed to a $260.5 million investment, equivalent to about 20% of current shares.

- The Federal Reserve will conduct biweekly emergency auctions of loans as “long as necessary” as part of a global attempt by central bankers to restore faith in the money markets.
- ResMed Inc.(RMD), the No. 2 maker of equipment for treating breathing-related sleep disorders, rose the most in five years on the NYSE after analyst speculation that the company may be a takeover target.
- Itron Inc.(ITRI), the maker of utility meters for electric, gas and water usage, rose the most in a year after RBC Capital Markets recommended investors buy the shares.
- Walgreen Co.(WAG), the largest US drugstore chain, posted quarterly profit that beat analysts’ estimates on higher sales of prescription drugs and reduced expenses, sending the shares up the most in more than seven years.

- NetSuite Inc.(N), the software maker majority-owned by Oracle’s Larry Ellison, rose for a second day after its IPO, advancing as much as 30% as investors seek to tap demand for business programs.
- Apple Inc.(AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs’ annual Macworld surprise may be a slimmed-down laptop and a higher-capacity model of the iPhone.
- Hedge Connection looks to set up investors with fund managers.

- Bear Stearns(BSC) has been talking to Fortress Investment Group(FIG) about a “capital infusion.”
- Third Avenue Management LLC holds common stock in Radian Group(RDN) and MBIA Inc.(MBI), citing an interview with the money manager’s founder, Martin Whitman. “We hope to be part of the capital infusions that go into these troubled financial institutions,” Whitman said. He said Third Avenue holds 19% of Radian and a little more than 10% of MBIA. He also said the company’s bets involve MGIC Investment Corp.(MTG) and Ambac Financial Group(ABK) and were made over the past 30 to 45 days. (video)

USA Today:
- Senator Barack Obama has pulled even with Senator Hillary Clinton among Democrats in New Hampshire, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll. Clinton and Obama were supported by 32% of those polled, with 18% supporting former senator John Edwards. Last month most surveys in the state showed Clinton with a double-digit lead.

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