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Dow Jones News Top Stories Of The Day – December 20, 2006 December 20, 2006

Posted by notapundit in Economic News.
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FEDEX FALLS AMID SLOWING GROWTH; 2Q NET UP 8.5%

Shares fall 2% after package-delivery giant says it sees fiscal 3Q earnings coming in at $1.20-$1.35 a share, below expectations of $1.55 a share, asit expects ‘somewhat slower’ growth in the U.S. during the second half of its fiscal year. FedEx reports 2Q net income of $511 million, or $1.64 a share. Excluding costs for a new pilot labor contract, company earns $1.89 a share as revenue rises 10% to $8.93 billion.

NYSE INVESTORS BACK EURONEXT DEAL

Shareholders vote in support of merger with pan-European exchange a day after Euronext shareholders back deal, creating first trans-Atlantic stock exchange. NYSE Group CEO John Thain sees Asia as ‘the next logical step.’ NYSE shares slip 2%.

ERICSSON TO BUY REDBACK FOR $2.1B

Sweden’s Ericsson will pay Redback holders $25 a share, or 18% more than Redback’s share price before the announcement. Companies say deal will make them more effective suppliers for fast-moving networking market. Redback shares soar 17%.

TRUMP FALLS ON LOST BID FOR SLOT LICENSE

Trump Entertainment shares slide 12% and Isle of Capri drops 5% after the casino operators lose their bids to receive slot machine licenses from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

BUSH SEEKS LARGER MILITARY, BACKS WAGE HIKE

President says larger military needed for war on terror, saying he is awaiting Defense Secretary Gates’ assessment of the turmoil in Iraq and ideas on expansion. Gates arrived in Baghdad today. Bush also backs proposed $2.10 minimum wage hike.

FCC APPROVES RULES FOR CABLE FRANCHISE

FCC votes in favor of new rules governing franchise system for new entrants seeking to provide TV service to consumers. Rules particularly aimed at facilitating entry by telecom firms such as Verizon and AT&T, keen to expand presence in video market.

US MILITARY WANTS $99.7B MORE FOR WARS

Pentagon wants the White House to seek another $99.7 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The request, if approved by Congress, would boost this year’s budget for the wars to about $170 billion.

PUBLICIS MAKES $1.3B BET ON INTERNET ADS

French advertising group unveils a $1.3 billion deal to buy U.S. digital marketing firm Digitas. Publicis is offering Digitas shareholders $13.50 per share in cash, a 23.5% premium to its stock price yesterday. Digitas climbs 22%.

US FIRMS SEEN GIVING MODEST RAISES IN ’07

Executive, management, professional and office workers will get average raises of 3.7%, and workers in trades, production and service can expect raises of 3.6%, according to a Mercer Human Resources survey.

CREDITORS, HOLDERS AGAINST DELPHI DEAL

Delphi’s unsecured creditors and some of its biggest shareholders oppose the $3.4 billion capital-infusion deal the company struck with two hedge funds and private equity firms, disapproving the influence new investors could gain over Delphi.

ARTES MEDICAL LEADS IPOS; 2 OTHERS DECLINE

Wrinkle-treatment maker that slashed its expected price in half to attract investors is surprise star of IPO market. Artes Medical made swift double-digit gains, eclipsing deals from China’s Solarfun Power and Dayton Superior.

ANHEUSER-BUSCH OKS 100M STOCK BUYBACK

Beer maker’s board approves a 100 million-share stock repurchase program, spending up to $2.5 billion in 2007. About 15 million shares remain open under its similar 2003 buyback plan.

BUSH SIGNS LEGISLATION AIDING COAL STATES

President Bush signs legislation giving about $8 billion to coal-producing states to clean up hazardous abandoned coal mines and pay for health care for retired miners. Money will be distributed from 2007 to 2025.

FCC CHAIR DOUBTS AT&T DEAL IN 2006

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin says a deal is unlikely on long-contested $85 billion merger between AT&T and BellSouth before the end of the year. Two Democrat commissioners are refusing to vote in favor of the merger.

CENTAURUS BETS AGAINST NASDAQ-LSE MERGER

Prominent U.K. hedge fund Centaurus Capital is betting Nasdaq Stock Market will fail in its bid for London Stock Exchange, setting itself apart from other hedge funds that are confident Nasdaq will raise its offer price.

MORGAN STANLEY CUTS 170 JOBS AT UNIT

Investment bank has cut 170 positions at its recently acquired subprime mortgage unit, Saxon Capital, as part of its reorganization of the business. The job cuts accounted for about 14% of Saxon’s work force.

BEAR STEARNS TOP EXECUTIVES TO SELL $22M OF SHARES

Firm gives Chairman and CEO James Cayne permission to sell $7.6 million of formerly restricted shares he received five years ago, according to SEC filing. Six other executives also get go-ahead to sell formerly restricted shares granted in ’01.

M&F TO BUY HARLAND FOR $1.7B

M&F Worldwide will acquire John H. Harland for $1.7 billion, or $52.75 a share in cash, a 19% premium to yesterday’s closing price of $44.47 a share. The merger is expected to close in the second half of 2007.

======= DOW JONES NEWSWIRES ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARIES =======

POINT OF VIEW
Wanted: New Symbol For Regulatory Outrage
Corporate America and Wall Street will have to find a new symbol in 2007 for regulatory overkill now that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s infamous Section 404 has been shrunk back to reasonable size, writes Neal Lipschutz.

GETTING PERSONAL
Target Date Funds Boost Stock Holdings
As 401(k) retirement plans have replaced pensions, life-cycle funds that investors ‘can set and forget’ have become more popular – and more aggressively invested, writes Jilian Mincer.

============ U.S. MARKETS ACTION ===========
DJIA down 1.93 points to 12469.31
NASDAQ down 0.07 points to 2429.56
S&P 500 up 3.07 points to 1425.55
10-year T-note up 1/32 at 100 8/32 yield 4.599
NYMEX Spot Crude up $0.26 at $63.72/bbl at close
Dollar/Euro down 0.0037 at 1.3170

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