Monday, December 29, 2008

Today's Headlines

- There’s more cash available to buy shares than at any time in almost two decades, a sign to some of the most successful investors that equities will rebound. The $8.85 trillion held in cash, bank deposits and money- market funds is equal to 74 percent of the market value of U.S. companies, the highest ratio since 1990, according to Federal Reserve data compiled by Leuthold Group and Bloomberg.

- James Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management, says investors need to be overweight in US equities. (video)

- New York Times Co.(NYT), facing a $400 million debt repayment and a 60 percent drop in its stock price this year, is pursuing asset sales almost a year after its biggest investor demanded changes to the business.

- The ruble fell to a record low against the euro as Russia devalued the currency for the 12th time in seven weeks after the government forecast its first budget deficit in a decade.

- Crude oil rose, paring earlier gains, as fears that Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip would disrupt supplies from the Middle East gave way to concerns about demand and the global economy.

- New York City drew a record 47 million visitors who accounted for about $30 billion in total spending in 2008, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

- The TED spread, or the difference between what the U.S. government and banks pay for three-month loans, narrowed eight basis points to 140 basis points.

Wall Street Journal:

- Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn said Sunday that he expects Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich to be impeached by the Illinois House and convicted by the state Senate, clearing the way for a special election in June to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

- Internet Access Turns School Buses Into Rolling Classrooms.

NY Times:
- Quietly, as the United States presidential election and its aftermath have dominated the news, America’s three broadcast network news divisions have stopped sending full-time correspondents to Iraq. Joseph Angotti, a former vice president of NBC News, said he could not recall any other time when all three major broadcast networks lacked correspondents in an active war zone that involved United States forces. Except, of course, in Afghanistan, where about 30,000 Americans are stationed, and where until recently no American television network, broadcast or cable, maintained a full-time bureau. Of course, the Iraq war has evolved and violence in the country has subsided. At the same time, President-elect Barack Obama and senior military strategists generally agree that tensions have risen in Afghanistan, leading to more violence and unrest. In short, the story, certainly on television, is shifting to Afghanistan.

- Florida, the Next Hotbed of Venture Capital?


- Rumor: Apple(AAPL) to release Apple TV software for any Mac; turn any Mac into an Apple TV.

The Detroit News:

- The upcoming launch of the new Ford Taurus and Fusion sedans is "critical" to the success of Ford Motor Co., according to Ford Americas President Mark Fields, who also acknowledged that the company cannot get enough batteries to meet demand for its hybrid cars and sport utility vehicles. The comments came in a wide-ranging online chat with employees last week, a transcript of which was obtained by The Detroit News.

Washington Post:

- President-elect Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan will include an immediate tax cut for middle-class families, and the incoming administration hopes to enact permanent tax cuts soon thereafter, a senior adviser to Obama said Sunday.

Crain’s NY Business:

- Ice cream chain Baskin-Robbins said Monday it is launching a new line of better-for-you ice cream treats just in time to help New Year's dieters trim their waistlines.

- Kass: 20 Surprises for 2009.

- The U.S. banking sector may be considerably stronger than what conventional wisdom suggests, and the decline in bank stock prices has been excessive as many of these stocks represent "excellent" values, according to veteran banking analyst Richard Bove.
- The Israeli Foreign Ministry on Sunday released preliminary options for a "diplomatic exit strategy" from the operation in the Gaza Strip. Political sources in Jerusalem say the options are not similar to those available during the Second Lebanon War, which ended with a UN Security Council resolution and the deployment of peacekeepers.

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