Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Today's Headlines

- General Motors Corp.’s(GM) bailout from the US Treasury, including billions of dollars committed to the automaker and its financing arm, has analysts predicting its bankrupt former parts unit, Delphi Corp., might get the same.

- The cost of protecting bonds sold by GMAC LLC from default fell as the U.S. Treasury committed $6 billion to the financing arm of the country’s biggest automaker.

- The cost of borrowing in dollars in London for three months dropped to the lowest level since June 2004 as central banks worldwide pumped emergency cash into money markets to combat the credit squeeze. The London interbank offered rate, or Libor, for such loans fell two basis points to 1.44 percent today, according to British Bankers’ Association data. The one-month rate slipped one basis point to 0.45 percent. Asian rates declined and the Libor-OIS spread, a measure of cash scarcity, narrowed. “Central banks are well ahead of the game this time in preventing a squeeze in the crossover into the new year,” said Danny Suwanapruti, a fixed-income strategist at Standard Chartered Plc in Singapore. “Their numerous measures have ensured there’s no liquidity crunch going into year-end.” The Libor-OIS spread, a gauge favored by former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, narrowed two basis points to 126 basis points today.

- Michael Holland, chairman of Holland & Co. likes Vanguard Convertible, Junk Bond Funds. (video)

Wall Street Journal:

- Ford Motor Co.(F) plans to offer two Lincoln models next year that can park themselves, the latest move in a strategy aimed at improving the public's image of the auto maker. The automatic parallel-parking system will be shown next month at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and will be offered as an option on the Lincoln MKS sedan and MKT crossover-utility vehicle.

- That hedge funds have done poorly this year isn’t exactly a surprise. Still, the end of the year brings data that quantify the damage.

- Embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich plans to name Roland W. Burris, the former attorney general of Illinois, to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, a person familiar with the matter said. Gov. Blagojevich plans to make the announcement Tuesday afternoon. The choice is likely to face intense scrutiny because the governor faces federal corruption charges. The governor appears to be thumbing his nose at critics who have said the process allowing him to choose Mr. Obama's replacement should be circumvented.

Miami Herald:

- Federal and state regulators are investigating a self-styled investment guru who recruited hundreds of Haitian Americans and others to pour their savings into his ventures through a network of South Florida investment clubs. Some investors claim they are victims of a massive Ponzi scheme concocted by George Theodule, a self-proclaimed evangelical minister from Haiti, who promised to double their money in three months.

- Iraq will offer 10 undeveloped or underdeveloped gas and oil fields in its second postwar licensing round due to begin Wednesday, the country's oil minister said. Hussein al-Shahristani did not name all the fields that would be on offer, but said they would include the southern fields of Majnoon and West Qurna Phase 2 which hold reserves of roughly 12 billion barrels of crude each. The two fields currently produce far below their individual output potential of 600,000 barrel per day. Al-Shahristani said Iraq's oil exports in December averaged 1.85 million barrels per day, nearly 90,000 barrels a day more than in November. The contracts from the upcoming licensing round, along with those from the previous round, could add another 4 million to 4.5 million barrels a day within four to six years, he said. Iraq holds the world's third largest proven reserves of crude, with more than 115 billion barrels of oil and an estimated 112 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. It currently produces about 2.4 million barrels of oil per day.


- Another iPhone Nano Case on Offer. Case maker Vaja is offering a case for the phantom iPhone Nano. There are no pictures, no prices and no specifications -- the only thing you'll see if you visit the awful Flash site is the listing above which, when clicked, will take you to a pre-order page:

Detroit Free Press:

- Detroit sees 14% drop in homicides this year. Total on pace for lowest since 1967. The city of Detroit is on pace to have its lowest number of homicides in more than 40 years.


- Vlingo adds much-needed voice activation technology to your iPhone. You don't have to train it to recognize your voice. Somehow, it's got you all figured out already. It's free, and you can use it to make calls, update Twitter or Facebook's status, and even run a Google or Yahoo Search.


- CareerBuilder.com and USA TODAY published its annual job forecast today and there are some bright spots on the horizon. In today’s issue, USA TODAY focused on the first three months of 2009. While 16% of U.S. employers plan to cut staff, 16% of employers “expect to add workers, while 62% percent anticipate a steady payroll.” That’s promising news for a huge chunk of workers — 78%. (Another 6% weren’t sure what staffing plans for Q1.)

Publishers Weekly:

- Amazon(AMZN) has added a new way of finding books to its site, which the company is calling Author Stores, single pages that feature all books from a particular author, plus, in many cases, an author photo and some related content, such as a biography, message board and streaming video.

- General Motors(GM) Sales Chief says December sales had been up ‘considerably’ from November before latest incentive offer. He also said easier GMAC financing standards could double share of US market GM can target.

- The man putting together Iraq's newest museum doesn't like to be alone in his office, where he keeps bloodied nooses, a medieval-looking torture device and boxes of documents chronicling atrocities under Saddam Hussein.

- Despite the doom and gloom of a prolonged recession, the majority of Americans are optimistic about what is in store in 2009.

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Globe and Mail:

- Output from OPEC members bound by supply targets fell by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) in December, consultant Petrologistics said on Tuesday, as the group more than complied with a deal to try to boost oil prices.


- Investments in Peruvian oil and natural-gas output will rise almost 16% next year as companies led by Perenco SA develop fields and drill more exploratory wells. Closely held Perenco plans to invest $350 million in the northern jungle Block 67 to produce 40,000 barrels of crude oil a day by 2011.


- Israel would consider suspending its offensive in the Gaza Strip to allow in humanitarian aid, but would need assurances that Hamas would hold fire too, an Israeli cabinet minister said today.

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