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Feb 17, 2011

Evening Market Wrap: Stocks Eke Out Modest Gains After Mixed Data - U.S. Commentary

Evening Market Wrap
Thursday, February 17, 2011, 18:52

Stocks were able to record modest gains on Thursday, with the strongest reading out of the Philadelphia-area manufacturing sector in seven years helping to overshadow another lackluster jobs report and consumer price data showing shades of inflation. The major averages moved roughly sideways late in the day, holding on to their tentative gains. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Economic News

With energy prices in the U.S. showing another notable increase in the month of January, the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing that total consumer prices increased by a little more than expected for the month. The report showed that the consumer price index rose by 0.4 percent in January, matching the revised increase seen in December. Economists had expected consumer prices to increase by 0.3 percent. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

After tumbling to a more than two-year low in the previous week, first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits rebounded in the week ended February 12th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday. The report showed that initial jobless claims rose by 25,000 to 410,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 385,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to rise to 410,000 from the 383,000 originally reported for the previous week. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Growth in the Philadelphia-area manufacturing sector has seen a substantial acceleration in the month of February, according to a report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia on Thursday, with the bank's index of regional manufacturing activity surging up by much more than anticipated. The Philly Fed said its index of current activity jumped to 35.9 in February from 19.3 in January, with a positive reading indicating growth in regional manufacturing activity. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

After reporting a notable increase in leading U.S. economic indicators for December, the Conference Board released a report on Thursday showing a slightly smaller than expected increase by its leading indicators index for January. The Conference Board said its leading economic index edged up by 0.1 percent in January following a downwardly revised 0.8 percent increase in December. Economists had expected the index to increase by 0.2 percent. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Corporate News

Electric and natural gas utility PG&E Corp. (PCG) Thursday reported a decline in fourth-quarter profit, hurt by costs related to a natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno. Adjusted earnings also were lower than last year and fell short of analysts' forecast. The company has affirmed its adjusted earnings outlook for fiscal 2011. Fourth-quarter net income was $250 million or $0.63 per share, compared with $273 million or $0.71 per share last year. In the preceding third quarter, net income available to the company's common shareholders was $258 million or $0.66 per share. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Soft drinks maker Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. (DPS) on Thursday reported a marginal decline in fourth-quarter net profit, owing to a hefty loss tied to early extinguishment of debt. However, adjusted earnings and revenues topped Wall Street expectations. Net income edged down to $112 million from $114 million in the prior year. Earnings per share grew to $0.49 from last year's $0.44 on lower share count. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Electric utility company Duke Energy Corp. (DUK) Thursday reported a rise in fourth-quarter profit, helped by favorable weather and gains on sale of non-core businesses. Revenues grew from last year and exceeded analysts' expectations, but adjusted earnings disappointed the market. However, the company forecast adjusted earnings for fiscal 2011 above estimates, sending its shares up in pre-market trade. For the fourth quarter, net income attributable to the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company increased to $427 million from $346 million last year. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Hyatt Hotels Corp. (H) Thursday reported a profit for the fourth quarter, reversing from a loss last year, driven by strong Revenue per Available Room and occupancy, mainly in its international and North American select-service hotels. On an adjusted basis, the Chicago, Illinois-based lodging service provider's earnings per share came in line with analysts' estimates. Fourth-quarter net income attributable to Hyatt was $6 million or $0.03 per share, compared with a loss of $12 million or $0.07 per share last year. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Jelly and coffee maker J. M. Smucker Co. (SJM) on Thursday reported a 3 percent decline in profit for the third quarter, hurt by restructuring charges that offset higher revenues. Excluding items, adjusted earnings per share increased from last year. Looking ahead, the company lifted the low end of its earnings outlook range for fiscal year 2011. The owner of Smucker's, Folgers and Pillsbury brands said its net income for the third quarter was $132.0 million or $1.11 per share, down from $135.5 million or $1.14 per share a year ago. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Featured Article

The dollar remained under modest pressure Thursday, as tensions in the Middle East and rising commodities prices supported resource-linked currencies. Relatively tame inflation figures prevented the dollar from extending its recent gains against the yen. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Political News

The House voted Thursday to give final approval to legislation extending three controversial provisions of the Patriot Act that were due to expire at the end of the month. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law before the provisions expire. The bill passed the House by a vote of 279 to 143, with 68 Democrats joining 211 Republicans in voting in favor of the extension. Twenty-six Republicans and 117 Democrats voted against the bill. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

In another sign that U.S. President Barack Obama is in for a tough re-election fight in 2012, the results of a recent Gallup poll show that Obama is tied with a generic Republican candidate in terms of voter preferences. The poll showed that 45 percent of registered voters said they are more likely to vote for Obama, while an equal 45 percent said they are more likely to vote for the GOP candidate for president. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Several Republicans released statements Thursday highlighting the second anniversary of President Barack Obama signing the economic stimulus bill into law, with the GOP seemingly gloating about what they see as the bill's failure. "The legacy of the 'stimulus' spending bill is clear: it failed," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. "After two years and a trillion dollars, the American people are still wondering: where are the jobs?" (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

NYT: Afternoon Business News: Citadel in Talks to Sell Itself to Cumulus


In India, a Private Foundation Tries to Improve Public Education

A five-year-old project is trying to change how students are taught and tested in a country where rote memorization is the norm.

U.S. Consumer Prices Held in Check in January

Higher energy costs helped push up consumer prices in the United States, but the overall inflation level remained modest, the Labor Department reported.

Bernanke Says Fed Has Learned Lessons From the Recession

The financial system is better off than it was two years ago, and the central bank has learned the lessons of not providing rigorous enough oversight of banks, the Fed chief told a Senate panel.

Citadel in Talks to Sell Itself to Cumulus


Citadel Broadcasting is in talks to sell itself to a smaller rival, Cumulus Media, for $37 a share in cash and stock after months of refusing to consider a deal.
Bits Blog

Silicon Valley Chiefs to Meet With Obama

Twelve Silicon Valley luminaries, including a few Republican-leaning executives, will dine with President Obama Thursday evening.

Financial And Forex Info News: Reuters Daily Investor Update


Recent leaders juice up Wall Street
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. investors piled on a dizzying two-year advance in stocks on Thursday, using a brief slip on negative economic news as an opportunity to buy into market leaders. | Full Article

Dodd-Frank tensions headline Senate hearing
February 17, 2011 03:56 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans escalated their push to delay and defund the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms on Thursday as top regulators warned the Senate Banking Committee of a staff and funding crunch. | Full Article
Consumer prices show inflation turning up
February 17, 2011 03:38 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Core consumer prices rose at the quickest pace in 15 months in January, suggesting a long period of slowing inflation had run its course. | Full Article
CEOs see business conditions improving: survey
February 17, 2011 02:04 PM ET
BOSTON (Reuters) - Chief executives of major U.S. companies have a brightening view of business and economic conditions and look for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates modestly this year, a survey by the Business Council found. | Full Article
Starbucks CEO has "very bold" single-serve plans
February 17, 2011 03:12 PM ET
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Starbucks Corp has "very bold" plans for the fast-growing single-serve coffee market, the CEO of the world's biggest coffee chain said in an internal memo obtained by Reuters on Thursday. | Full Article

Financial And Forex Info :The Australian Capital Circle: Liberals edging towards open warfare.

Capital Circle Newsletter
Liberals edging towards open warfare
Despite being ahead in the polls, Tony Abbott's Liberal Party is beset by infighting.

The PM's day, per the press office: Julia Gillard is back in Canberra today after trips to New Zealand and north Queensland and has a day of meetings. One of those meetings is of the multi-party climate change committee (that's MPCCC to you). She may also talk to the men and women of the fourth estate later today.
A quick refresh: The MPCCC was set up by the PM to help secure Greens support for Labor to form government. Its members are Ms Gillard, Wayne Swan, Greg Combet, Greens Christine Milne and Bob Brown, Independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor and four experts - Ross Garnaut, Will Steffen, Rod Sims and Patricia Faulkner. The committee will meet throughout 2011.
Tony Abbott is in Sydney for a day of meetings after four days on the road, most recently in Launceston where he attended community events including a health forum. Tony also visited the Black Cow Restaurant, telling FM radio on the Apple Isle "What a magnificent steak. I can't recall a better steak''.
Faceless men: Labor's 24-strong national executive is scheduled to meet and receive the independent election review conducted by Senator John Faulkner and former premiers Steve Bracks and Bob Carr today. As we've previously reported, a formal response from the ALP has been pencilled in for June. More on the review below.
Farewell, see you soon: Liberal staffer Josh Manuatu, latterly of Senator Gary Humphries office and formerly with leader Brendan Nelson, is moving down the hall to work for Senate leader Eric Abetz.
Ted's chasing them out: Age reporter Richard Willingham has moved from the paper's state political office to Canberra. Willingham, who is also an occasional scribbler for the AFL Footy Almanac (like Capital Circle), is in his second year at the paper. He follows the Herald Sun's state political reporter Matt Johnston, who also mo

MarketWatch: Personal Finance Daily: Food, energy push up food prices.

Personal Finance Daily
FEBRUARY 17, 2011

Thursday's Personal Finance Stories

By MarketWatch

Don't miss these top stories:
The science of staying healthy. It's never quite as simple as you'd like to think. I've been under the general impression that increasing good cholesterol — HDL — and reducing bad cholesterol — LDL — is a good goal to aim for. Turns out, that's not entirely true. A new report finds that good cholesterol varies in its effectiveness. If you have the best kind of HDL, the type that does a good job removing bad cholesterol from arteries, then you may not need as high an overall level of that good cholesterol as someone whose HDL is less effective. And someone with less-effective HDL might need different treatment.

"A patient with high levels of good cholesterol may not be receiving as much protection as hoped for, but also a person with low levels that are very efficient may be better off than previously thought," MarketWatch's Anya Martin writes in her story today.

Read more on the good, bad and unknown about cholesterol, plus read the latest real-estate news — mortgage rates dropped, foreclosures tied a record high, banks may have to pay up for foreclosure violations — and read our latest TaxWatch column on how and why you need to check out your tax preparer.

Andrea Coombes , Personal Finance editor

Cholesterol: The good, the bad, the unknown

A recent study indicates that greater levels of the so-called "good" cholesterol — high-density lipoprotein — may be less important than how well your particular HDL removes the bad cholesterol from arteries.
Read more: Cholesterol: The good, the bad, the unknown


Rate on 30-year fixed mortgage falls back to 5%

Interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fall to a 5% average this week, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey of conforming mortgage rates, released on Thursday.
Read more: Rate on 30-year fixed mortgage falls back to 5%.

Foreclosures tie record high in fourth quarter

The percentage of mortgages in foreclosure ties a record high in the fourth quarter of 2010, even though mortgage delinquencies hit their lowest level since the end of 2008, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported on Thursday.
Read more: Foreclosures tie record high in fourth quarter.

Banks to be sanctioned for foreclosure violations

Major U.S. banks are about to get penalized for "critical deficiencies" and shortcomings in how they handled foreclosures, a top federal regulator says.
Read more: Banks to be sanctioned for foreclosure violations.

Loan standards curb demand for housing

Just because housing starts jumped in January doesn't mean the industry has overcome weak fundamentals, including higher credit standards, writes Kathleen Madigan.
Read more: Loan standards curb demand for housing.


Protect your tax return from a bad preparer

Most of us do our best to get our taxes done right, not least because we're eager to avoid penalties and prison sentences. But if a tax pro claims a fraudulent deduction on your behalf, the IRS could come after you, so vet your tax preparer — and check your return.
Read more: Protect your tax return from a bad preparer.


Food, energy push up food prices

U.S. consumer prices continued to rise in January as energy and food prices increased, but underlying inflation remained tame as many companies struggled to pass on higher raw materials costs to consumers.
Read more: Food, energy push up food prices.


Brawl over debit fees continues at hearing

The brawl between the financial services and retail industries over proposed debit-card fee reduction spilled over into a House hearing Thursday, as a top Federal Reserve official acknowledged that banks may raise checking costs in response.
Read more: Brawl over debit fees continues at hearing.


Banks told to test for 11% unemployment: report

The Federal Reserve reportedly is requiring that major banks determine if they have sufficient capital to stand up against a scenario in which the U.S. unemployment rate reaches at 11%.
Read more: Banks told to test for 11% unemployment: report.

Dodd-Frank may be too fragile to succeed

Republicans are seeking to slow the pace of new regulations enacted by Dodd-Frank. The endgame may be a full repeal, depending on the outcome of elections in 2012.
Read more: Dodd-Frank may be too fragile to succeed.

U.S. consumer prices rise 0.4% in January

The prices that American consumers pay for goods and services rose a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in January, mainly because of higher gas and grocery expenses,
Read more: U.S. consumer prices rise 0.4% in January.

Philly Fed's factory index hits seven-year high

A February survey on the business outlook for manufacturers in the Philadelphia region improves far more than forecast, reaching the highest level seen since January 2004.
Read more: Philly Fed's factory index hits seven-year high.

January leading indicators tick higher

The economy's expansion is expected to continue in coming months, though current conditions, which are slowly improving, remain weak, the Conference Board said Thursday as it reported that its leading economic index rose 0.1% in January.
Read more: January leading indicators tick higher.

Jobless claims climb 25,000 to 410,000

New applications for U.S. jobless benefits rose by 25,000 to 410,000 last week, reflecting choppy conditions in a still-weak U.S. labor market.
Read more: Jobless claims climb 25,000 to 410,000.


Five tips for picking winning stocks

The stock market has been performing well lately. Here are five tips to pick the right stocks, even in a challenging market like this one, writes Jeff Reeves.
Read more: Five tips for picking winning stocks.

Markets correctly keeping eye out for deflation

The bond market seems to be looking past the growing inflation figures coming out, and for good reason, writes Steve Goldstein
Read more: Markets correctly keeping eye out for deflation.

Ruff likes gold ... and Sarah Palin?

Howard Ruff's top-performing letter offers a portfolio entirely concentrated in precious metals and resources stocks, and endorses Sarah Palin.
Read more: Ruff likes gold ... and Sarah Palin?

Apple and Google face subscription challenges

Each offering seems to have some positives but plenty of drawbacks. Both could face an uphill battle getting consumers to pay for content they've become accustomed to getting for free.
Read more: Apple and Google face subscription challenges.

NYSE deal ends crisis-inspired protectionism

A surge in global protectionism after the financial crisis has officially ended with the sale of the NYSE to Deutsche Boerse. More deals to come.
Read more: NYSE deal ends crisis-inspired protectionism.


G20 ministers to debate imbalances

Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 nations will attempt to lay the groundwork for addressing the thorny issue of global economic imbalances when they meet Friday and Saturday.
Read more: G20 ministers to debate imbalances.

Record-breaking Belgium makes case for gridlock

Belgium's record-breaking run without a government has been bumpy, but the turmoil has been swallowed with relative ease, so far.
Read more: Record-breaking Belgium makes case for gridlock.

U.S. Markets At Close

U.S. Markets At Close

Major Indexes
  LastChange% Chg
DJIA*12318.14  29.97  0.24
Nasdaq*  2831.58    6.02  0.21
S&P 500*  1340.43    4.11  0.31
DJ Total Stock Market*14174.31   51.66  0.37

 Source : The Wall Street Journal


CFTC: Enforcement Action Against Larry Benny Groover, et al.

The following enforcement action has been released:
Larry Benny Groover, et al. 
  • Order: CFTC v. Larry Benny Groover, et al.
  • Complaint: CFTC v. Larry Benny Groover, et al. 
  • CFTC Press Release 5986-11 provides further details on this action.
Enforcement Actions for

The Economist: Politics This Week Feb 17th 2011

Politics this week
Feb 17th 2011
From The Economist print edition

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt stepped down after 18 days of occasionally violent protests and handed power to a group of senior military men, who said they would oversee the writing of a new constitution. Elections are to be held within six months, raising hopes that Egypt could become a genuine democracy. See article
The toppling of Mr Mubarak inspired political upheavals in several other Middle Eastern countries. In Yemen the government tried to stem unrest by deploying thousands of extra policemen; security forces in Algeria and Libya clashed with demonstrators; and police broke up a democracy camp in Bahrain’s capital, killing several people. See article
Almost two years after the Iranian government suppressed a popular rebellion, protesters returned to the streets of Tehran. Police stopped leading opposition figures, including Mir Hossein Mousavi, from joining them. See article
The forces of a rebel general in South Sudan, who last month agreed to a peace deal with the regional government, massacred more than 200 people near the border between Sudan’s north and south.

The White House set out its budget plan for the next fiscal year, which proposes $1.1 trillion in spending cuts and tax increases over the next ten years. A deficit of $1.6 trillion, or 11% of GDP, was forecast for this year. The budget predicted big deficits every year for at least the next decade. See article
The annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) took place in Washington, DC. Among other things, the event allows Republican activists to assess their putative presidential candidates. Ron Paul, a congressman and darling of the libertarian right, won a straw poll for the second consecutive year. Mitt Romney, considered an early front-runner for the nomination, came a respectable second. Sarah Palin got 3%.

Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, won a vote to limit an increase in the minimum wage to last year’s inflation rate, the first battle in her government’s effort to rein in the fiscal deficit and curb inflation. See article
Mexico suffered more drug violence. The top intelligence official in the northern city of Monterrey was murdered. An American immigration agent based in the United States embassy in Mexico City was shot dead and another wounded, as they drove to Monterrey.
Officials in Buenos Aires seized equipment from a United States military cargo plane that the Americans said had been authorised for use in training local police. Argentina’s government has been irritated by leaked cables in which American diplomats refer to widespread official corruption in the country.
Peru’s polling companies suspended opinion polls for April’s presidential election in protest at a ruling by the electoral authority requiring them to obtain the personal details of those they interview. The latest polls give Alejandro Toledo, a former president, the lead on around 28%.
The World Bank said that surging food prices have pushed an extra 44m people worldwide into extreme poverty, which can often be a precursor to malnutrition. The number of undernourished people could rise to more than 1 billion this year.

Visiting Tokyo, India’s minister of commerce signed an economic pact with Japan that lifts tariffs on many goods and services. The countries aim to more than double bilateral trade by 2014. They also discussed India’s rare-earths industry; Japan currently depends on Chinese imports of the minerals.

Japan suspended its annual whale hunt in the Antarctic, after vessels from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society hounded one of its whalers. Japanese officials, who call Sea Shepherd a “terrorist” outfit, say that the manoeuvres have made it impossible to catch whales safely.
Barack Obama waded into the row surrounding an employee at the American consulate in Lahore, who was detained for killing two men. Mr Obama insisted that Raymond Davis, a former member of the special forces, has diplomatic immunity and should be returned to American custody. Most Pakistanis want Mr Davis to stand trial. He says the men he shot were attempting to rob him.
The Philippines’ government started a week of negotiations with communist rebels. The two sides met in Norway with the aim of ending an insurgency that has raged across the poorest parts of the Philippines for more than 40 years. Awkwardly, the Philippine army captured an important guerrilla leader just before the start of a week-long ceasefire.
Myanmar’s state media issued its first criticism of Aung San Suu Kyi since her release from house arrest last November. A newspaper cautioned that she and her party would “meet their tragic ends” if they persisted in supporting sanctions against Myanmar.

A judge indicted Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s prime minister, on charges of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and abusing his power. The trial is due to start on April 6th; all three judges will be women. Mr Berlusconi denies any wrongdoing. See article
In a referendum the Swiss voted against a proposed ban on keeping army rifles at home. Gun-ownership rates in Switzerland are among the highest in the world, partly because ex-conscripts are allowed to retain army-issued weapons.
The judge who convicted Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a Russian oil magnate, for theft and money-laundering in December was acting under orders, said a court official. Natalia Vasilyeva, an assistant to the judge, Viktor Danilkin, said his verdict was written by Moscow city court. Mr Danilkin said the allegations were slanderous. See article
Several thousand Tunisian migrants arrived on Lampedusa, a small Italian island off north Africa. The Italian government asked for help. See article

Michèle Alliot-Marie, France’s foreign minister, again found herself in hot water over her links to the ousted Tunisian regime. After admitting that she had taken flights on a jet owned by Aziz Miled, a businessman linked to the former president, she defended a property deal involving Mr Miled and her parents.

The Economist: Business This Week: 12 -18 February 2011

Business this week
Feb 17th 2011
From The Economist print edition

NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Börse agreed to merge. If the deal is consummated it will create the world’s largest trading platform for shares and derivatives. Shareholders in the German exchange will own 60% of the new company, but senior American politicians seemed fairly relaxed about the prospect of the New York Stock Exchange being incorporated in an enterprise where it would hold a minority stake. Speculation mounted that a rival bid for either business could emerge.
China officially passed Japan to become the world’s second-biggest economy when Japan said its GDP was worth $5.5 trillion in 2010. China’s amounted to $5.9 trillion.
In China the rate of inflation rose again, to 4.9% in January, which was less than had been forecast. Meanwhile, China said imports of copper, iron ore and oil had accelerated in January. Imports of iron ore reached a record 69m tonnes, up by 48% from a year earlier. See article
Britain’s inflation rate also crept up again in January, to 4% or double the Bank of England’s target. The guessing game intensified about when the central bank would raise interest rates. See article

America’s Treasury Department issued a report in which it proposed the eventual elimination of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and laid out options for reducing the role of government in mortgage financing. The report admitted that Fannie and Freddie had “strayed” from their core business of promoting sustainable home ownership when they extended credit to riskier borrowers. The Treasury now foresees government’s role in housing limited to “robust oversight”, consumer protection and targeted assistance for poor households; it wants the private sector to “bear the burden of losses” in the sector.
Jens Weidmann, Angela Merkel’s chief economic adviser, was picked to be the next president of Germany’s Bundesbank after the surprise decision by Axel Weber to step down in April. Mr Weber had been the putative front-runner to succeed Jean-Claude Trichet as head of the European Central Bank. A new favourite soon emerged for that job: Mario Draghi, the governor of Italy’s central bank. See article

The yields on Portuguese government bonds rose to settle above 7%, the mark at which Portuguese officials have said the country’s borrowing costs would be unsustainable. Portugal’s finance minister criticised his colleagues after a meeting in Brussels for dithering over the details of expanding the euro-area’s bail-out fund, saying the delay was harming the currency block.
An investment firm offered to buy Family Dollar for $7.6 billion. Cheap retailers are hot in America, while the economy is not.

Investors gave a cool reception to Nokia’s announcement of “a broad strategic partnership” with Microsoft. The Finnish mobile-phone company, which has lost ground to Apple and Google in the smartphone market, is adopting Windows Phone as its primary platform for smart devices, displacing its own Symbian software. Eric Schmidt, Google’s boss, revealed that his company had talked extensively to Nokia about adopting Google’s Android platform.
A court in Ecuador ordered Chevron to pay $9.5 billion for alleged environmental and social damage to Ecuador’s Amazon region caused by Texaco, which Chevron took over in 2001. The oil company has accused the plaintiffs’ lawyers of using “a strategy of fraud”. Courts in New York and The Hague have issued orders that suspend the enforcement of any judgment against Chevron in the case, which has been rumbling on since 1993. See article
Sanofi-Aventis, a French drugs group, claimed victory in its six-month pursuit of Genzyme, an American biotech company, when its improved takeover offer of $20.1 billion was approved by Genzyme’s board.
Borders filed for bankruptcy protection, as it struggles to pay big publishers. It is to close 200 underperforming bookstores over the coming weeks. Borders is often said to have mishandled the challenge from online competition. It did not open its own e-commerce website until 2008 (before that it had paired up with Amazon) and introduced an e-reader only last year.

Google launched a payment system that enables publishers to charge for online content through its operating platforms. Google announced its One Pass system the day after Apple set out its conditions for subscriptions sold through its App Store, for which it will take a 30% cut. Google will retain 10% of the payments and give media companies more control over subscriber data than Apple would.

The Washington Post Afternoon Edition: Today's 10 Most Read Opinion Columns.

Washington Post

1) Deficit hawks and the games they play

It's satisfying to see President Obama ignore the deficit hawks.

2) Chris Christie isn't pretty, and he tells ugly truths

It didn't take Chris Christie long to make a fat joke.

3) Workers toppled a dictator in Egypt, but might be silenced in Wisconsin

Republicans fear that letting our workers exercise their rights undermines the GOP regime.

4) Mitch Daniels's case for a less strident conservatism

Indiana governor Mitch Daniels calls for a 'boldly different course.'

5) A lost cause: The high-speed rail race

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S fiscal 2012 budget includes $8 billion for high-speed rail next year and $53 billion over six years. In the president's view, the United States needs to spend big on high-speed rail so that we can catch up with Europe, Japan - and you-know-who. "China is building faster trains and...

6) In Egypt, real politics is about to begin

A united uprising is over. Now real politics begins.

7) The U.S. must empower the Green Movement

America can deal with the Iranian regime by empowering the Green Movement.

8) Boehner the budget hawk shifts his course

Boehner and his party's proposal for budget cuts would reverse the economic recovery.

9) Maryland is on the cusp of legalizing same-sex marriage

A FEW YEARS AGO, there was no prospect that a bill legalizing same-sex marriage could pass the Maryland General Assembly. This year, advocates for the legislation seem to be on the cusp of victory - a victory we hope they achieve - as a small handful of fence-sitting state senators seem to be...

10) The future of a democratic Egypt

We can't determine the policies of the new government. But we can influence them.

Forex Market Update

Forex Market Update
Thursday, February 17, 2011, 09:35

Economic News

Foreign direct investment to China rose 23.4% year-on-year to $10 billion in January, reports said on Thursday citing data from the Ministry of Commerce. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Norway's mainland economy continued to expand in the fourth quarter, helped by strong growth in consumer spending and investment, data from Statistics Norway showed Thursday. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Economic expectations among Swiss investors improved marginally in February, though there was notable deterioration in their assessment of the current business conditions, results of a monthly survey revealed Thursday. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

After tumbling to a more than two-year low in the previous week, first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits rebounded in the week ended February 12th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Improving demand from abroad is expected to boost UK manufacturers' output, a survey conducted by the Confederation of British Industry showed Thursday. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Analyst Economic Comments

Elevated price pressures in the UK will force the Bank of England to hike interest rates sooner rather than later, IHS Global Insight economist Howard Archer said Thursday. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

The acceleration in New Zealand's input price inflation during the fourth quarter will do little to alter the central bank's monetary stance and spook it into near-term policy action, Helen Kevans, an economist at J.P. Morgan Securities said Thursday. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) is likely to announce its first rate hike by the end of this year amid increasing inflationary pressures and a recovery in private consumption, Danske Bank said in a note on Thursday. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

The steady pace of economic growth, below-target inflation and the strong krone may prompt the Norwegian central bank to continue to tread cautiously, Capital Economics said in a note on Thursday. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Forex Top Story

With energy prices in the U.S. showing another notable increase in the month of January, the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing that total consumer prices increased by a little more than expected for the month. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Inflationary pressure in the UK is greater than the central bank yesterday projected in its Inflation Report, according to a policy maker of the Bank of England. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Singapore gross domestic product climbed a seasonally adjusted 3.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 compared to the previous three months, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said on Thursday. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Boosted by exports, Taiwan's economy expanded faster than initially thought in the fourth quarter. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Singapore's exports increased at a faster pace in January on strong demand for electronics, pharmaceuticals and machinery, official data showed on Thursday. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article


The price of gold moved up near $1,380 Thursday morning as the U.S. dollar was trading mixed ahead of inflation data. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

The price of crude oil edged up Thursday morning as traders await cues from today's economic data, including inflation and weekly jobs data. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Political News

Prominent human rights and democracy activists who spoke at the U.S. State Department's inaugural Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society have criticized the United States for supporting undemocratic leaders in Muslim countries. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Germany is insisting Portugal to seek an international bailout at the earliest, Portuguese newspaper Jornal de Negocios reported on Thursday without citing sources. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has ruled out general elections without the participation of Gaza Strip. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

The European Commission has launched infringement procedures against six more member-states which signed deals with Russia to obtain rights to fly over Siberia, fearing that the agreements could damage free competition in the bloc. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Left-wing FARC rebels in Colombia have released two more hostages held by them in an apparent 'goodwill gesture' aimed at future talks with the country's government, reports said on Wednesday. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Analyst Currency Comments

Analysts at Westpac noted on Thursday that USD/majors traded quietly in the Asian session. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

The New Zealand dollar was down almost 2 cents against the US dollar this week on the back of a 0.4 percent drop of New Zealand retail spending in the December quarter, the Bank of New Zealand's chief economist Tony Alexander said on Thursday. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

Currency Alerts

The pound edged higher against its major rivals in early trading on Thursday following the Bank of England policy maker Andrew Sentance insisted that an immediate hike in interest rates is necessary to strengthen the value of the pound to curb inflation.Full Article (Feb 17, 2011)

The dollar was steady Thursday morning in New York, as traders paused for the deluge of economic data coming before the opening bell on Wall Street. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

In early European deals on Thursday, the Swiss franc showed mixed trading against other major currencies. While the franc strengthened against the dollar and the yen, it came off slightly from multi-day highs against the euro and the pound. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

General News

The U.S. State Department has launched a Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article

At least three Palestinian men, all in their twenties, have been shot dead by Israeli troops in northern Gaza, reports said. (Feb 17, 2011) Full Article