December 21, 2007 on 9:12 am | In News of the Day | 0 Comments

SKY News Summary 12-20-07

Last year, Coke announced a plan under which board members are paid only if the company meets its three-year goal. It amended this plan to accommodate the company’s two new directors, Jacob Wallenberg, chairman of Investor AB, and Alexis Herman, former Secretary of Labor. The two new board members will be paid a flat fee of $175,000 for two years, and then will join the performance-based plan. WSJ
In Brief-New Coke Directors Get Flat-Rate Pay for Year

The board of The Bank of Japan voted to keep interest rates at 0.50% due to the upset in the subprime-mortgage market. WSJ
In Brief – Bank of Japan’s Board Leaves Interest Rates Unchanged

The first of the four Federal Reserve auctions was well-received with 93 banks submitting $61.6 billion of bids for the $20 billion auctioned in 28-day loans at 4.65%. The Fed’s regular discount rate is 4.75%, but banks have shied away from using those funds because of the stigma attached to them. (The auctioned loans do not disclose the identities of the banks that borrow). The second auction is today, and two more are scheduled in January. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119807657236739519.html

Congress passed its fix of the alternative minimum tax, but the late date will mean that tax refunds normally sent out in January and February will be sent in April. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119810471534540625.html

According to the Wall Street Journal, GM is expected to sell its medium-duty truck business to Navistar International. Terms of the agreement were “unclear, as GM doesn’t break out financial results from the unit.” GM typically sells more than 50,000 such trucks a year, which include everything from dump trucks to small buses. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119810945344940865.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal

The Department of Justice fined Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo for receiving payments from online gambling companies for advertising. As a part of the settlement, none of the companies admitted their guilt. Microsoft will pay $21 million ($4.5 million to the Treasury, $7.5 million as a contribution to the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and $9 million to online public service announcements that online gambling businesses are illegal). WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119809595072840253.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace

Morgan Stanley announced that the Chinese government will purchase 9.9% of the company’s stock for $5 billion. USAToday
http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/earnings/2007-12-19-morgan-stanley_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

Homeland Security is testing a new weapon on which it has spent $1 million in research and many hours of “lobster testing”. Lobsters have eyes that are comprised of thousands of tiny square channels that reflect the light, unlike our eyes that refract the light. The unique geometric design of lobster eyes allow them to see in the murkiest of water. This same technology is being used in a handheld prototype called LEXID (Lobster Eye X-ray Imaging Device) that, for example, enables the Coast Guard to use x-ray energy to look into closed metal containers, or show a border agent what is in a passing car. USAToday
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/techinnovations/2007-12-19-lobsterray_N.htm

One hedge fund, Basis Yield Alpha, which was mainly invested in collateralized default obligations (CDOs), has announced that coupon payments on the CDOs it invested in are adequate to repay creditors the $60 million owed them in complaints filed. This will be a relief to some banks that would like to keep their loans to Basis Yield Alpha off their balance sheets at year end. The hedge fund may even be able to make a payment to investors. FT
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7271ffcc-acbf-11dc-b51b-0000779fd2ac.html

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, USAToday, Financial Times, and The Hartford Courant

December 18, 2007 on 5:05 pm | In News of the Day | 0 Comments

SKY News Summary 12-18-07

Plasma displays are losing market share in flat-panel TVs to liquid-crystal displays (LCDs). DisplaySearch estimates that by 2011, LCD-television shipments will double, to 148.4 million units, and plasma shipments will be less than one-eighth of that. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119794181294235461.html

This year (through October), China’s State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), which is charged with gauging the environmental impact of new factories, rejected 187 applications for projects it deemed too pollutant. In the ten years from 1995 to 2005, it had denied only two projects. In its new get-tough policy, SEPA also has begun the effective policy of publicly shaming major polluters.WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119791498877734281.html

Citigroup announced that Don Callahan, a former Morgan Stanley executive who ran the firm’s institutional-securities group, will be the new chief administrative officer. Mr. Callahan had worked closely with Citigroup’s new Chief Executive, Vikram Pandit at Morgan Stanley. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119791334880334201.html

The Commerce Department reported that the deficit shrank to $178.5 billion in the third quarter of 2007, down from a revised $188.9 billion the quarter before. That translates to about 5.1% of our nation’s gross domestic product, down from 6.1% last year. The decline is partly due to increased demand of U.S. goods, given they have become cheaper due to the decline in the dollar. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119789802793033683.html

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, USAToday, and The Hartford Courant

December 18, 2007 on 8:39 am | In News of the Day | 0 Comments

SKY News Summary 12-17-07

A proposed amendment, backed by Pepsi and Coca-Cola was dropped from the Senate farm bill last week. The amendment would have limited drinks sold in high schools. Water, milk, juice or drinks with fewer than 25 calories would have been allowed under this federal bill. However, passage of this bill would have pre-empted more stringent state laws. WSJ
Proposed School-Drinks Rule Dropped

Alltel is using voice recognition technology developed by SpinVox to allow customers to receive voice messages as text messages for $4.99 a month. USAToday
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/cnet/2007-04-06-voicemail-text_N.htm?csp=34&loc=interstitialskip

IBM continues to increase its employment of BRIC workers (workers in Brazil, Russia, India and China). The company uses 100,000 BRIC workers, up from 85,000 last year, to manufacture, or develop software for its products. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119765076746629667.html

An energy bill that passed the Senate last week and is expected to pass the House this week, will phase out incandescent light bulbs by 2020. Replacement bulbs range from compact fluorescent bulbs that last six times longer than incandescent bulbs, but cost $2 compared to 50 cents, to a new Philips halogen bulb that does not emit the telltale yellowish tint of fluorescents. GE says it has almost perfected its incandescent bulb, available by 2010, that meets the new standards and will cost less than fluorescents. USAToday
http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/environment/2007-12-16-light-bulbs_N.htm

According to a Conference Board analysis, between 1995 and 2003, productivity in China rose 20.4% due to restructuring of state-owned companies and adopting Western technology and management practices. USAToday
http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/trade/2007-12-16-china-yuan_N.htm

Last month, results of a study to determine whether a combination of Schering-Plough’s Zetia and Merck’s Zocor worked better than Zocor alone, sponsored by Merck and Schering-Plough, were to be presented at an American Heart Association meeting, but were not. Forbes.com ran comments from leading cardiologists questioning why the companies had held back the data. Today’s Wall Street Journal explains that the companies “noticed that some images were missing: other data suggested patients had undergone changes in their carotids that were ‘biologically implausible.’” The companies assembled a group of experts in both carotid imaging and statistics to decide what to do and changed the scope of the study. This tactic prompted a congressional inquiry into the conduct of the study. Last week, the companies reverted back to the original study and will present the findings at the March meeting of the American College of Cardiology. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119786664299833289.html

In what could prove to be a significant event, striking screen writers are negotiating with venture capitalists to put video entertainment directly onto the Web. Historically, writers have been employed by studios, which pay them for the initial use of their material and a percentage of the licensing fee once the program goes into reruns. Venture capitalists are looking at what Google spent for YouTube ($1.65 billion) and thinking that professionally- produced video entertainment could be worth even more. The prospects for traditional studios and television could be affected. HC
Striking Writers Look to Internet
http://hartfordcourant.ct.newsmemory.com/

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, USAToday, and The Hartford Courant

December 18, 2007 on 8:34 am | In News of the Day | 0 Comments

SKY News Summary 12-14-07

The FDA advisory board rejected Merck’s request that Mevacor, its cholesterol-lowering drug, be available over-the-counter. Apparently, in a study, a significant number of people wanted to buy the drug even though it was a poor choice for them.

The Senate passed a bill, expected to be signed next week by the President, that will increase fuel efficiency standards for automobile fleets, appliances and buildings, and expand the use of ethanol and other biofuels. The bill mandates fuel efficiency of 35 miles a gallon by 2020 on new automobile fleets, and the use of 36 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol and other biofuels by 2022. HC

Kuwait Petroleum Corp. and Dow Chemical announced a joint venture, based in the U.S., that will operate Dow’s polyethylene, polypropylene, polycarbonate and amines business. Kuwait Petroleum will buy its share for $9.5 billion, and Dow will shed low-margined assets, so that it can focus on higher-margined specialized chemicals. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119754695787226405.html?mod=todays_us_page_one

Microsoft is in the news again as the European Union received its first complaint since it began regulating the company last September. Opera Software, a Web-browser maker based in Oslo, accused the company of having a competitive edge on Internet Explorer since it runs on a Windows-based protocol. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119754405249826367.html?mod=todays_us_page_one

A new $5 bill will go into circulation March 13. The bill, similar to the new $10 and $20, will have a red “five” on the back. Originally, the five dollar bill was not going to be changed because of significant adjustments needed in vending machines, but counterfeiters were bleaching the $5 bill and making it into a $100 bill, which also had not been changed. HC

The Hartford has agreed to acquire the U.S. retirement services business of Sun Life Financial. The purchase price was not disclosed but the acquisition will add $17 billion in 401(k) retirement plan assets to the Hartford’s existing $29 billion assets. HC

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, and The Hartford Courant

December 13, 2007 on 2:20 pm | In News of the Day | 0 Comments

SKY News Summary 12-13-07

Eli Lilly, in an announcement made December 7, expects seven products to reach sales of $1 billion or more in 2008. The products are: Zyprexa, Cymbalta, Byetta, Cialis, Forteo, Evista, Alimta, and for the animal world, Elanco. Please click on the link below for information on the growth of each drug in its market.
http://newsroom.lilly.com/ReleaseDetail.cfm?ReleaseID=279999

In a two-pronged approach to easing the credit crunch, the Federal Reserve will 1) hold a special auction of $40 billion, starting next week and lasting through January, that will be available for other banks to borrow, anonymously, at discounted rates; and 2) will work with the European Central Bank and Swiss National Bank to lend $24 billion to foreign lenders. WSJ & USAToday
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119746804568523549.html

On December 7, this blog mentioned Target’s November sales increased 1.1% after eliminating the effect of the extra week in November. Today, The Commerce Department is reporting that overall, retail sales increased by 1.2%. It is unclear whether or not the extra week of sales in November is responsible for this increase. “Sales climbed by 2.5% at electronic stores; 0.6% at health and personal care stores, 1.0% at food and beverage stores; 1.2% at building material and garden supplies dealers; 2.6% at clothing stores; 0.3% at eating and drinking places; 1.9% at mail order and Internet retailers; 1.0% at furniture stores’ sales; 2.2% at sporting goods, hobby and book stores; and 0.9% at general merchandise stores.” The Labor Department also announced that wholesale prices surged, with the producer price index for finished goods increasing 3.2% in November, the biggest one-month rise since August 1973. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119755254588026485.html?mod=hps_us_whats_news

Viacom seems to be testing consumers’ interest in online movies. The company will be releasing “Jackass 2.5” through a free video download on December 19, exclusively on the Blockbuster web site. (The movie can be viewed, but not stored, until December 26th, when it will be available for purchase at all DVD retailers). Blockbuster paid $2 million to Viacom’s Paramount for the exclusive rights. Once the money is recouped through advertising, Blockbuster will pay Paramount more than 70% of the advertising revenue. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119750265810925103.html

On Tuesday, the U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez signed an agreement in Beijing that gives the U.S. “approved destination status” in China. While any Chinese person could conceivably get a U.S. visa (one in five applicants are denied) the process was complicated. This agreement allows for U.S. tourist offices in China and direct advertising to the Chinese public. It is expected that by 2020, 100 million Chinese will be traveling outside their country. HC
http://hartfordcourant.ct.newsmemory.com/

A 42-inch plasma TV consumes more electricity than a refrigerator, even if the TV is only on a few hours each day. The Wall Street Journal reports that, “assuming each screen is on five hours a day, the annual energy bill for the conventional 28-inch television set would be about $30 a year, compared with about $130 for the 60-inch plasma model.” Adding a DVD, speakers, and game console, the cost would exceed $200 a year. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119751487989925779.html

UTC’s Sikorsky Aircraft unit announced its biggest deal ever on Wednesday night. The company won an Army-Navy contract worth $7.4 billion, for 537 Black Hawk helicopters over the next five years. The contract could grow to $11.6 billion if the military exercises its option to purchase an additional 263 aircraft and spare parts. This contract comes as a relief to UTC, which recently announced that its Carrier unit, its biggest unit by revenue, was suffering from declines in the housing market. HC
http://hartfordcourant.ct.newsmemory.com/

Sources: Eli Lilly web site, The Wall Street Journal, The Hartford Courant, USA Today,

December 13, 2007 on 7:51 am | In News of the Day | 0 Comments

SKY News Summary 12-11-07

Today, AT&T announced a new 400 million share repurchase program and approved a 12.7% dividend increase. AT&T web site
http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=4800&cdvn=news&newsfunction=searchresults&beginning_month=9&beginning_year=2007&ending_month=11&ending_year=2007

Kraft appointed Myra Hart, a senior member of the Harvard Business School faculty, and Fredric Reynolds, EVP and CFO at CBS (formerly EVP and CFO of Viacom) to its Board of Directors. Louis Camilleri, Chairman and CEO of Altria, formerly Chairman of Kraft, stepped down from the Board, recognizing Kraft’s independence from Altria. Kraft web site
http://www.kraft.com/Investor/

Proctor & Gamble Pharmaceuticals announced that a recent study shows that its drug, Asacol is effective in treating ulcerative colitis including isolated proctitis which resists existing oral treatments. P&G web site
http://www.pginvestor.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=104574&p=irol-news

MBIA, the largest bond insurer will receive a $1 billion cash injection from Warburg Pincus to increase “case basis loss reserves”. The reserves are for are actual cash losses of between $500-$800 million related to mortgage-backed securities. FT
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/a4afd228-a75d-11dc-a25a-0000779fd2ac.html

The Federal Open Market Committee decided today to lower its target for the federal funds rate 25 basis points to 4-1/4%. USAToday
http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2007-12-11-fed-quarter_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

Vikram Pandit has been named Citigroup’s new CEO. Sir Win Bischoff who had been acting CEO will replace Robert E. Rubin as Chairman, while Mr. Rubin will return to his previous duties as a member of the Citigroup Board of Directors and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board. Citi web site
http://www.citigroup.com/citigroup/homepage/

Citigroup, Bank of America, and Société Générale, are writing off losses from SIVs through deals with junior investors. Citigroup has cut more than $15 billion from the vehicles, while Société Générale cut $4.3 billion and B of A cut $12 billion. FT
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/1ed66154-a789-11dc-a25a-0000779fd2ac.html

UBS said that it sold a 9% stake in itself to the Government of Singapore Investment Corp. for $9.8 billion, and a 1.5% stake to an unidentified Middle Eastern investor, to cover a $10 billion write-down of mortgage-backed securities. The Government of Singapore Investment Corp. is a government-run investment fund, managing $1.9 trillion to $2.9 trillion in foreign exchange reserves. USAToday
http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/banking/2007-12-10-ubs_N.htm

Last year, in China, demand for energy rose dramatically at the end of the year, as the government acknowledged that power stations had been built illegally. If the same thing happens this year, China could exceed the expected annualized energy growth of 16.2%, compared to last year’s 13.7% growth. The nation says it has closed 365 small coal-fired plants, yet 85% of the new generating capacity of 90GW, is coal-fired. While the Chinese economy is one-quarter to one-third the size of the U.S., China is on track to take over as the world’s largest polluter of greenhouse gases this year, according to the International Energy Agency. FT
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a5313d54-a78a-11dc-a25a-0000779fd2ac.html

A fed study showed that two-thirds of noncash payments were paid electronically, while the rest were paid by cash. Use of checks has declined by an average of 6.5% between 2003 and 2006, but part of that decline was due to checks that are converted and clear banks automatically. HC
http://hartfordcourant.ct.newsmemory.com/

Sources: The Hartford Courant, The Financial Times, USAToday, The Wall Street Journal, Kraft web site, P&G web site, and the Citi web site.

December 11, 2007 on 7:28 am | In News of the Day | 0 Comments

SKY News Summary 12-10-07

MIT engineers have developed a material, made of micro fiber, that when applied to any product, makes the product impermeable to oil as well as water. Their research was funded by the US Air Force and will be used to protect gaskets and o-rings from leaking gas, but may soon be applied to textiles. (No more salad dressing stains on the tie!) FT
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ae57f930-a466-11dc-a28d-0000779fd2ac.html

Rupert Murdoch will own the Wall Street Journal by the end of this week. Murdoch will get a vote from shareholders of Dow Jones and its flagship newspaper on Thursday, but the outcome of the vote is assured, since enough of the Bancroft family, who have owned the company for more than a century, have binding commitments to the sale. The transaction has already received the necessary regulatory approvals. USAToday

A record 4.72% of subprime adjustable-rate mortgages started the foreclosure process during the past quarter, representing 43% of total new foreclosures, but only 6.3% of total loans outstanding. U.S. homeowners’ equity in real estate dropped by 1.2% in the third quarter. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119695377686315839.html

Coca-Cola named Muhtar Kent, formerly president and chief operating officer, as its new chief executive, replacing E. Neville Isdell. Mr. Kent is largely responsible for Coke acquisition of Energy Brands, maker of Glaceau Vitaminwater, earlier this year. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119694401181215732.html

On Thursday, Merck will again ask the FDA’s advisory panel to approve sale of Mevacor, a cholesterol-lowering statin drug to be sold without prescription. Merck will present a new study that finds that stronger warning labels, which it suggests for Mevacor, improve consumers’ decision making process. If Mevacor is approved with the new warning label, other statin, allergy, heartburn and dermatology medications could follow suit.
USAToday
http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-12-09-mevacor_N.htm

A major dump for nuclear waste is closing July 1, and 36 states (85 nuclear power plants) will have to store their waste elsewhere. The Barnwell radioactive waste storage site in Barnwell, S.C. has been the dumping site for waste from as far away as California and Maine. In 1980, Congress passed a law giving each state responsibility for its own low-level radioactive waste, although cooperation between states was encouraged. In 2000, the Legislature decided to close the South Carolina site, which is 90% full, to all states except South Carolina, New Jersey, and Connecticut. USAToday
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-12-09-nukedump_N.htm

ConocoPhillips approved a capital budget of $15.3 billion, up 13%. “Approximately 80% of the company’s 2008 total authorized capital program will be allocated to its Exploration and Production segment. The Refining and Marketing segment will receive about 18%, with the remaining being spent in Emerging Businesses and Corporate.” Conoco web site
http://www.conocophillips.com/newsroom/news_releases/2007news/12-07-2007.htm

It seems everyone is in the pursuit of the perfect blood thinner. Bristol-Myers has, for fifty years, had a corner on the business through its product, wafarin, sold as Coumadin. It is expected that with new research on blood clots will yield new drugs on the market as early as 2009. Johnson & Johnson and Bayer are in the forefront of the pursuit, but Lilly, Bristol-Myers, Sanofi-Aventis, and Boehringer-Ingelheim are all in the race for the$10 billion market. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119725064671318856.html

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, The Hartford Courant, The Conoco Phillips web site, USAToday, The Financial Times

December 10, 2007 on 9:28 am | In News of the Day | 0 Comments

SKY News Summary 12-7-07

Halliburton will make some management changes by year end. Andrew Lane will retire as EVP and COO, and Dave Lesar, who is Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, will assume Mr. Lane’s duties. The EVP and CFO, Cris Gaut will become President of Halliburton’s Drilling and Evaluation Division. Mark A. McCollum will replace him as EVP and CFO.
http://ir.halliburton.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=67605&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1085044&highlight=

Target reported that November sales increased 16.7% to $5.97 billion from last year. However, this November had a quirky reporting period because the month ended on a Friday giving it almost a week’s worth of extra sales. On a calendar-adjusted basis, sales increased only 1.1%.
http://investors.target.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=65828&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1084793&highlight=

Yesterday, we reported that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae had raised a combined $13 billion to cover capital reductions spawned from the mortgage-backed security situation. Moody’s commented that MBIA and Ambac, both bond insurers, should follow suit or reinsure some of their bonds, or these companies may run the risk of being downgraded from triple A. The difference is that, unlike Freddie and Fannie, MBIA and Ambac have complicated business models and are not in any way supported by the government, so their success in an offering is uncertain. FT
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/149248c6-a3a0-11dc-b229-0000779fd2ac,Authorised=false.html?_i_location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ft.com%2Fcms%2Fs%2F1%2F149248c6-a3a0-11dc-b229-0000779fd2ac.html&_i_referer=http%3A%2F%2Fsearch.ft.com%2Fsearch%3FqueryText%3DMBIA%25E2%2580%2599s%2Bcapital%2Bshortfall%26aje%3Dtrue%26dse%3D%26dsz%3D%26x%3D15%26y%3D11

The oil sands of Alberta, Canada have been attractive to most oil companies, even if wage and equipment costs are excessive. Only BP has chosen not to drill there…until now. Under its new Chief Executive, Tony Hayward, the company has announced a joint venture with Husky Energy, the Canadian oil company controlled by Li Ka-shing to contribute assets worth $5 billion with another $5 billion promised over the next eight years. The new field, called Sunrise, should begin production in 2012 and is expected to produce about 200,000 barrels a day by the end of the decade. FT

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2e88dd1c-a3a0-11dc-b229-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1

Sources: Financial Times, Halliburton web site, Target web site

December 7, 2007 on 3:45 pm | In News of the Day | 0 Comments

SKY News Summary 12-6-07

Although many small and medium-sized lenders have had difficulties lately, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been successfully raising funds through the sale of preferred stock. Fannie plans to raise $7 billion and reduce its dividend to 35 cents from 50 cents to offset housing losses of $1.5 billion for the third quarter, $195 million for the fourth quarter, and $530 million for 2008 in total. Freddie Mac halved its dividend and raised $6 billion through a preferred share offering last week to offset losses of $2.3 billion last quarter. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119680522386413543.html

AT&T and Verizon Wireless each have to divest assets to satisfy regulators following some recent acquisitions. It makes sense to purchase each other’s divestitures as both companies position themselves for the spectrum auction early next year. AT&T will swap Dobson Communications for Verizon’s Rural Cellular. WSJ

Dow Chemical announced that, in addition to moving most of the basic chemical production to Asia and the Middle East, it will trim 1,000 jobs and close plants, incurring a fourth quarter expense for asset write-downs and severance costs of between $500 and $600 million. About 50% of Dow Chemical’s revenues come from manufacturing basic chemicals which are getting more expensive to produce and less profitable to sell. Higher prices for natural gas and oil, the foundation upon which most chemicals manufactured, are responsible for the rise in production costs. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119677496789513063.html

The U.S. Supreme Court is deciding whether or not Congress intended to allow state regulation and product-liability lawsuits when it passed laws creating a uniform federal approval process for medical devices. Charles Reigel, who died in 2004, claimed that the catheter, produced by Medtronic and pre-approved by the FDA, had design flaws which caused it to bust during a 1996 angioplasty procedure. The federal government and Medtronic maintain the FDA is responsible for safety and effectiveness standards that benefit most patients while shielding companies from lawsuits. An opinion will be issued by July. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119677570033113084.html

In a glimmer of hope for the housing market, 18 metropolitan areas had a reduction in the number of homes listed in the month of November compared to October. The biggest reduction of homes was in Boston (8.2) and San Francisco (6.4%). Still the inventory of homes remained the highest since 1985 as sellers remain unconvinced that they need to reduce prices to sell. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/search?KEYWORDS=Home%20Listings%20in%2018%20Metro%20Areas%20Decline

Tomorrow, the government releases November’s employment report which could show better employment numbers and influence the Federal Reserve’s decision on how much to lower rates next week. But earlier this week, two pieces of economic data shed a positive light on the economy: The Labor Department announced that worker productivity rose 6.3%, the fastest rate in four years, and a report from Automatic Data Processing (ADP) indicated employment rose substantially last month. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119686111715114422.html

An FDA advisory panel voted yesterday not to approve Genentech’s drug Avastin, in treating advanced breast cancer. The drug, which currently is used to treat forms of colon and lung cancer in the U.S., had world-wide sales of $1.85 billion last year. If the drug were to get FDA approval, the company could promote the drug for metastatic breast cancer use and it would be more likely that insurers would cover its cost. Interestingly, 4 of 5 oncologists on the advisory committee recommended approval. Statisticians and public interest advocates tipped the balance to the negative and voted against the recommendation. The drug will go before the full FDA review board shortly. Expect patient advocates to be active in the meantime trying to sway the FDA towards approval. Genentech is majority-owned by Roche Holdings AG. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119688294316514773.html

IBM announced a significant development in chip making yesterday. Researchers at the company are able to put information on an optical wire instead of a copper wire. More information can be stored in a much smaller device using new light pulses than can be stored using the existing electronic signals. Intel is making advances on a similar chip. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119690833346615377.html

A federal appeals court in San Francisco has blocked Bush’s 2003 National Environmental Policy Act that allowed logging and burning on more than 1.2 million acres of national forest land each year without studying the environmental ramifications. The rule was supposed to be a way to reduce wildfires. It sounds more like the Pinchot/Muir argument reincarnated. HC
http://hartfordcourant.ct.newsmemory.com/

The Senate Environment Committee approved, by a vote of 11 to 8, a global warming bill sponsored by Independent, Joe Lieberman and Republican, John Warner. The measure establishes two new federal boards and sets emission limits. According to the Courant, “utilities and industries would be granted allowances to stay under the cap, and could sell or trade those allowances.” The goal is to reduce greenhouse gases by 70% by 2050 and enact a global cap-and –trade program. HC
http://hartfordcourant.ct.newsmemory.com/

Sources: Hartford Courant, Wall Street Journal, USAToday

December 7, 2007 on 3:30 pm | In News of the Day | 0 Comments

SKY News Summary 12-4-07

Applied Materials received the prestigious Platts Global Energy Award this year for its work on manufacturing solutions for thin film silicon solar modules, using 5.7 square meter glass panels. These panels are four times bigger than the typical solar modules meaning that the manufacturers can achiever lower production costs.

http://www.appliedmaterials.com/products/assets/brochures/sunfab_interior.pdf

Kraft has completed its acquisition of Groupe Danone’s global biscuit business. This makes biscuits the company’s largest global business, representing about 20% of Kraft’s revenues. It also gives the company a significant presence in China.
http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=129070&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1082913

Citigroup will be selling two of its office buildings, both on Greenwich Street in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood, to SL Green Realty for about $1.58 billion. The transaction leaves Citigroup, New York’s largest private employer, without ownership of any office space in Manhattan. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119672839924112482.html

Berkshire Hathaway bought $2.1 billion of high-yield bonds issued by Energy Future Holdings, formerly known as TXU Corp. This is the first time the company has purchased junk bonds. WSJ
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119673551061612702.html

The U.S. manufacturing expanded slightly in November, according to the Institute for Supply Management, as new orders and production improved. November rated 50.8, compared to 50.9 for October. (A rating over 50 indicates growth). This was the tenth consecutive month of expansion. HC
http://www.courant.com/business/hc-natbizdigbrf1204.art1dec04,0,245092.story

AT&T will exit the pay phone business by the end of this month as it sells or removes its remaining 65,000 pay phones in prisons and other public places.
http://www.usatoday.com/_ads/interstitial/2007/page/impact_interstitial.htm?http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/telecom/2007-12-03-att-pay-phones_N.htm

Pratt and Whitney’s Geared Turbofan demonstrator engine reached its full power, 30,000 pounds of thrust, in tests today. This engine has great potential in that it includes low fuel burn, engine noise and environmental emissions. This engine was recently selected by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for the 70-90-passenger Mitsubishi Regional Jet. Bombardier has also selected this engine for its CSeries family of 110-130-seat aircraft now being designed.
http://www.pw.utc.com/vgn-ext-templating/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2e35288d1c83c010VgnVCM1000000881000aRCRD&prid=eacceb66a66a6110VgnVCM100000c45a529f____

Sources: Pratt & Whitney web site, Applied Materials web site, Kraft web site, The Wall Street Journal, USAToday, and The Hartford Courant

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