Wall St. Breakfast: What You Need to Know This AM

by: SA Eli Hoffmann
SA Eli Hoffmann
Seeking Alpha's flagship daily business news summary, gives you a rapid overview of the day's key financial news. It is published before 7:00 AM ET every market day and delivered to over 900,000 email subscribers.
  • U.S. markets floundered in 2008's first day of trading. Dow -1.67%. S&P -1.44%. Nasdaq -1.61%. Oil (+$3.62 to $99.62) and gold (+$22 to $860) picked up the slack.
  • The U.S. housing slump will likely be "deeper and more prolonged" than Fed governors thought, Dec. 11 FOMC minutes show. Members seem willing to slash interest rates further if need be (Minutes). Economists say soaring energy prices will "complicate the Fed’s job in 2008 enormously."
  • Manufacturing fell sharply in December, with a notable decline in new orders, compounding doubts whether export-led growth can chase off a recession. (ISM report)
  • Monster.com's employment index fell 14 points in December to 169. Half of the drop can be attributed to seasonality; the rest may be a sign of further moderation in the job market. (Report)
  • Mortgage loan applications fell a seasonally-adjusted 11.6% from one week earlier. They were down 20% from a year ago. (MBA release)
  • The Hang Seng fell 2.44%. Shanghai gained 0.21%. China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) was down another 4.8%. PetroChina (NYSE:PTR) was down 2.9% (see below).
  • In Europe, the FTSE is up 0.14%, the CAC is down 0.24%, while the Dax fell almost 1%. BP (NYSE:BP) is up 2.8% on rising oil prices.
  • Oil prices briefly touched $100/barrel. Less than 10 years ago, it went for under $11. Some economists worry prolonged high prices could threaten the world's most oil-dependent nation. OPEC says there's nothing it can do to stem the speculative fever.
  • State Street (NYSE:STT), the world's largest institutional money manager, will take a $279M ($0.71/share) charge to cover possible lawsuits resulting from its dealings in subprime mortgage securities, prompting the resignation of the head of its asset-management unit. STT also lowered its 2007 outlook. (Press release)
  • GM (NYSE:GM) said its share of 2007 U.S. sales -- which are collectively down -- would be "really flat." It will not reach its 2007 goal of 3 million vehicles.
  • Privately owned The Weather Channel is on the selling block and could fetch northward of $5B. Possible suitors include NBC (NYSE:GE), News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS) Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) and Yahoo (YHOO).
  • Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and LG Electronics will develop a set-top box that will allow users to stream programming from the Internet to HDTVs, bypassing the need for a PC. (Press release)
  • PetroChina (PTR) is pushing off the opening of a 100,000 bpd refinery in China's remote northwest by almost a year.
  • Merck (NYSE:MRK) will invest up to $702 million in a Swiss biotech in a licensing deal for its schizophrenia drug, as big pharma increasingly turns to small biotech to fill depleted drug pipelines.
  • NBC Universal (GE) has taken a 30% stake in NDTV's (New Delhi Television Limited) UK arm. Sources say NDTV will get "capital, content and some value validation." In entering India, it joins Viacom (NYSE:VIA) and Disney (NYSE:DIS).
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