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Dec 23, 2011

MarketWatch | Personal Finance Daily: Holiday season means green for florists


Personal Finance Daily
DECEMBER 23, 2011

Holiday season means green for florists

By MarketWatch

Don't miss these top stories:

Of the $20 billion or so doled out every year by Americans on cut flowers and potted plants, about a third of that is spent during the Christmas season. With the exception of Valentine's Day, which is condensed into an explosive one or two days and is the biggest selling period for cut flowers, the holiday is the busiest season for the floral industry, writes our Washington editor Maggie McNeil. But supermarket floral stands and online florists are pruning a bigger chuck from the traditional florist shop.

Either way, it's probably not too late to pick up some greenery and blooms to add to the holiday cheer. MarketWatch's personal finance staff wishes all our readers a happy holiday season and a peaceful and prosperous new year.

Anne Stanley , Managing Editor, Personal Finance

Holidays perk up wilting floral industry

The holiday season is the busiest season for the U.S. floral industry, but local supermarkets are pruning part of the multibillion-dollar business from the traditional neighborhood florist shop.
Read more: Holidays perk up wilting floral industry.

When to report assessment discrepancies

Most people want to keep their property taxes as low as possible, so they fail to correct mistakes in their files unless those miscues are in their favor, Lew Sichelman writes.
Read more: When to report assessment discrepancies.


November durable-goods orders rise 3.8%

Led higher by transportation equipment, orders for long-lasting U.S. goods show 3.8% growth for November, the largest such increase since July, according to government data.
Read more: November durable-good orders rise 3.8%.

Personal income rises 0.1% in November

Personal income comes in 0.1% higher for November, as consumer spending increases at a 0.1% clip, Commerce Department data show. Both are less than forecast.
Read more: Personal income rises 0.1% in November.


What if Santa doesn't call on Wall Street?

A saying that gets repeated often this time of year on Wall Street is: "If Santa should fail to call, bears may come to Broad and Wall." But is there any support for this in the historical record? Mark Hulbert investigates.
Read more: What if Santa doesn't call on Wall Street.

2011 was a year of horrors for hedge funds

It has been a rough year for hedge funds and 2011 is shaping up as one of the worst on record as Europe's debt crisis and U.S. economic woes roil the financial markets.
Read more: 2011 was a year of horrors for hedge funds.

New year offers gold another shot at $2,000

Gold fell short in its run toward $2,000 an ounce this year, but one year's failure may lead to next year's success — or at least another good shot at it.
Read more: New year offers gold another shot at $2,000.

5 hedge-fund managers to watch in 2012

Hedge funds operate like secret societies. Except for the initiated few who entrust their fortunes to fund managers, information is difficult to access. Yet sometimes the best sources are hedge fund managers themselves. Here are five worth watching in 2012.
Read more: 5 hedge-fund managers to watch in 2012.

Arab Spring thaws Middle East investments

The Arab Spring may have thawed the investment freeze in the Middle East, Thomas Kostigen writes.
Read more: Arab Spring thaws Middle East investments.

Money Show Investors Daily Alert: The Year's Most Reliable Indicator

Investors Daily Alert

The Daily Guru

Jim Jubak on

Today's Top Pros' Top Picks
2 Firms Mastering Big Data, Rob DeFrancesco
A Ship of Yields, Paul Tracy

Today's Gurus' Views & Strategies

Today's Charts in Play Exclusive Interviews
Is the Dow Hot or Cold?, Kelley Wright
Food, Fuel, and the Fed, Dennis Gartman

Ideas from Around the World

Today's Featured Videos
Breakout Trends: Finding the Luminaries on the Horizon, Brenda Kelly, Eoin Treacy, Paul Hill

Reuters - Deals Today: U.S. solar panel maker SunPower, a unit of French oil major Total, said it had agreed to buy Total-owned Tenesol for $165.4 million...



U.S. solar panel maker SunPower, a unit of French oil major Total, said it had agreed to buy Total-owned Tenesol for $165.4 million in cash in an expected deal that will regroup the French group's solar business under one umbrella. Total announced the $1.3 billion takeover of SunPower in June.

Concurrently with the closing of the acquisition, Total has agreed to purchase 18.6 million shares of SunPower common stock in a private placement at $8.80 per share, a 50 percent premium to SunPower's Dec 22 closing price. After the sale of Tenesol, Total will own about 66 percent of SunPower shares.

Deutsche Boerse won U.S. antitrust approval to buy NYSE Euronext in a $9 billion deal to create the world's No. 1 exchange operator, but the transaction still faces serious regulatory headwinds in Europe. In Europe, there have been weeks of negotiations with antitrust regulators, in which staff made clear their reservations about approving a combination of Deutsche Boerse's Eurex and NYSE Euronext's Liffe on concerns that the merged entity would have a monopoly over European listed derivatives trading. A formal decision by the European Commission is not expected until January or early February.

ConvergEx Group, a software provider for brokerage and investment technology firms, said it terminated its merger agreement with private equity firm CVC Capital, partly because of probes by U.S. regulators. CVC Capital was looking to buy ConvergEx, which is partly owned by Bank of New York Mellon (BK.N), for $1.9 billion, Bloomberg had reported in July.

China Three Gorges Corp's $3.5 billion acquisition of the Portuguese government's stake in utility EDP highlights China's appetite for physical assets in troubled economies and its ability to make its bids attractive with the promise of financial support. China is looking to pick up assets such as infrastructure and utilities in places like Europe at a bargain, rather than only buying the bonds of countries facing economic difficulties.

Deutsche Boerse, NYSE deal wins U.S. approval
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Deutsche Boerse won U.S. antitrust approval to buy NYSE Euronext in a $9 billion deal to create the world's No. 1 exchange operator, but the transaction still faces serious regulatory headwinds in Europe. | Full Article

The Economist | Selected New Articles: Banyan: Mystery theatre in North Korea / Clausewitz / NewsbooK ... and More.. /

Banyan: Mystery theatre
Watching North Korea, from the Chinese side of the border
read more »

Clausewitz: Sorry story
The killing of Pakistani troops by American and Afghan forces is officially classified as a screw up
read more »
Newsbook: Mariano Rajoy
Is this the man to save Spain?
read more »
Babbage: A deadly balance
Researchers looking at flu must take care not to help would-be terrorists
read more »
Daily chart: Running out of steam
Asia's seemingly relentless economic rise is not inevitable
read more »

Financial and Forex Info News | Kitco London Fix Market Report

London Fix Fri Dec 23 00:00:00 EST 2011
USD 1607.50 0.00   29.22 1436.00
653.00 0.00
UK 1025.13 0.00   18.63 915.80
416.45 0.00
EURO 1229.07 0.00   22.37 1099.10
499.80 0.00

CBS News Breaking News: Congress approves two-month payroll tax cut extension


Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET
Both the House and the Senate on Friday passed a two-month extension of the payroll tax, bringing an end to the political brinkmanship that delayed progress on the popular bill for weeks.
The bill passed is similar to the bill the Senate passed last week -- it will prevent a 2 percent increase in the payroll tax, extend unemployment benefits and prevent doctors from taking a cut in Medicare payments. House Republicans initially opposed the two-month extension -- arguing in favor of a full, one-year extension -- but after taking a political beating for holding up the bill, they struck a deal on Thursday to accept the Senate bill with added language to benefit small businesses.
"I hope this Congress has had a very good learning experience," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said after today's vote. "Everything we do around here does not have to wind up in a fight."
Now that Congress has passed the short-term extension, President Obama will sign it into law, and the president will leave Washington to join his family in Hawaii for Christmas. Congress will then have two months to work out their differences over a longer-term payroll tax cut extension -- namely, differences over how to pay for it.
"We can pay for it in many different ways," Reid said. "We have to be somewhat inventive."
Reid announced the four Democratic senators he is appointing to a conference to negotiate the terms of the longer-term bill with the House: Sens. Ben Cardin on Maryland, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Max Baucus of Montana and Jack Reed of Rhode Island.
Friday's votes -- which could have been derailed by any one member objecting to the unanimous vote -- were conducted in nearly-empty congressional chambers. Had Congress failed to act, some 160 million Americans would have seen the payroll tax, which funds Social Security, increase from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent. That increase would have meant a typical family making $50,000 a year would have lost about $40 from each paycheck. The White House launched an aggressive campaign, using that piece of trivia to drum up public support for extending the tax cut, asking citizens in an email, "What Does $40 Mean to You?"
Though House Republicans ultimately relented to the Senate on this issue, they won some significant concessions in the overall fight. For instance, the two-month extension includes a provision requiring President Obama to make a quick decision on whether or not to approve the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. Environmentalists adamantly oppose the transcontinental pipeline, and the president had intended to put off the decision until after the 2012 election.

New Residential Sales in November adjusted annual rate up 1.6% from October and up 9.8% from November: Financial and Forex Info | ESA - New Residential Sales


Sales of new single-family houses in November 2011 were 315,000 at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, up 1.6 percent from October and up 9.8 percent from November 2010.

RTTNews Daily Market Analysis: Sentiment Positive Amid Mixed Economic Data

RTT News: Global Financial Newswires
Daily Market Analysis
Friday, December 23, 2011, 09:16

The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a higher opening on Friday, with the recent string of buoyant economic data serving as a positive catalyst. That said, a duo of economic reports released earlier in the day relayed mixed messages. Personal spending as well as personal income grew less than expected in November, while a separate Commerce Department report showed a bigger than expected increase in durable goods orders. Traders may now focus on the new home sales report to be released shortly after the markets open. Given the fact that trading is likely to be light ahead of the extended weekend, much significance cannot be attached to the movement seen in the session. (Dec 23, 2011) Full Article

Morning market Briefing

Commentary Dec. 23, 2011
After moving mostly higher over the course of the previous session, stocks could see some further upside in early trading on Friday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a modestly higher open, with the Dow futures up by 32 points. (Dec 23, 2011) Full Article
Economic News
Inflation in Singapore accelerated unexpectedly in November, reaching its highest level in three months, driven mainly by higher costs of food, transport and housing, the latest data from the Department of Statistics showed Friday. (Dec 23, 2011) Full Article
France's economic growth in the third quarter was less than initially estimated due to weak investment, final data released by the statistical office Insee revealed Friday. (Dec 23, 2011) Full Article
Russia's central bank on Friday decided unexpectedly to cut its key refinancing rate for the first time since 2010 and narrowed the interest rate corridor. (Dec 23, 2011) Full Article
New orders for U.S. durable goods increased by significantly more than most economists had predicted in November, according to figures released Friday by the Commerce Department. (Dec 23, 2011) Full Article
U.S. personal income and spending both increased at slower than expected rates in November, according to figures released by the Commerce Department on Friday. (Dec 23, 2011) Full Article
The Canadian economy unexpectedly stalled in October, as a slowdown in construction and utilities offset strength in the factory sector, official data showed Friday. (Dec 23, 2011) Full Article
Corporate News
AT&T Inc. (T) Thursday reported receiving regulatory approval from the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, for the acquisition of 700 megahertz, or MHz, spectrum licenses from Qualcomm Corp. (QCOM). The company anticipates a purchase price of approximately $1.9 billion. (Dec 23, 2011) Full Article
Broker Ratings Changes
Robert W. Baird Initiates Trius Therapeutics Inc. (TSRX) At Outperform With $13 Price Target
(Dec 23, 2011) 
Todays WS Events
Mercury Computer Systems Investor Conference Call At 8:30 AM ET
Mercury Computer Systems, Inc. (MRCY) will host a conference call at 8:30 AM ET on December 23, 2011, to discuss the acquisition of KOR Electronics, Inc. & its wholly owned subsidiary, Paragon Dynamics, Inc. To listen to the call, dial (888) 806-6224 (US/Canada) or (913) 312-0390 (International) with conference ID number is 7432738. To access the replay, dial (888) 203-1112 (US/Canada) or (719) 457-0820 (International) with access code 7432738. (Dec 23, 2011) 
SandRidge Energy Investor Conference Call At 9:00 AM ET
SandRidge Energy Inc. (SD) will host a investor conference call at 9:00 AM ET on December 23, 2011, to discuss the joint venture with a subsidiary of Repsol YPF, S.A To access the live webcast, To participate in the call, dial 800-299-9086 (US) or +1-617-786-2903 (International) using pass code is 49579487. To listen to the replay, dial 888-286-8010 (US) or +1-617-801-6888. using pass code is 76935525. (Dec 23, 2011) 

New orders for manufactured durable goods in November increased 3.8 percent. Financial and Forex Info | ESA - Advance Report on Durable Goods

New orders for manufactured durable goods in November increased 3.8 percent, to $207 billion. Excluding transportation, new orders rose 0.3 percent. Overall shipments fell 0.4 percent, while capital goods shipments decreased 2.1 percent. Unfilled orders rose 1.3 percent and inventories increased 0.6 percent.

Nominal and Real disposable personal income unchanged in Nov. 2011: Financial and Forex Info | Esa - Personal Income and Outlays

Personal income in November 2011 rose 0.1 percent. Nominal personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased 0.1 percent while real PCE rose 0.2 percent. Nominal and real disposable personal income (DPI) were unchanged. The personal saving rate as a percentage of DPI was 3.5 percent in November.

DealBook | DealB%k Today's Top Headlines: In Turkey, Western Companies Find Stability and Growth

Friday, December 23, 2011
Top Story
In Turkey, Western Companies Find Stability and Growth Turkey's split personality has often left it caught between two worlds. Some European nations have vocally opposed the country's attempts to build closer ties with the West. And many of its Middle Eastern neighbors have been wary of the avidly secular state.

Now, the country's identity is an advantage for deal makers. Turkey doesn't have the economic baggage of its European neighbors, which are dealing with the sovereign debt crisis. With a relatively stable government, it has also angled for a more prominent role in the Middle East, as countries like Syria and Libya continue to face turmoil.

The combination of economic growth and political stability has attracted cash-rich companies looking to make acquisitions. So far this year, deal volume has totaled $10.6 billion, ahead of European countries like Austria, Portugal and the Czech Republic. In 2010, mergers and acquisitions reached $25.6 billion, up from $1.1 billion a decade ago.
    'Twas the Week After Layoffs As a gift to our readers, DealBook re-envisions the holiday classic "Twas the Night Before Christmas," from the perspective of a young, Wall Street analyst.
Hedge Fund Manager Offers to Pay Funeral Costs of Elevator Fire Victim The story of Deloris Gillespie, a 73-year-old woman who was brutally killed by being set on fire inside a Brooklyn elevator, evoked shock and sympathy from all quarters. One stranger, a Manhattan hedge fund manager named Darren Weingrow, decided to do something, offering to pick up the tab for Ms. Gillespie's funeral. "I'm not a philanthropist, I'm an investment guy. But it was devastating," Mr. Weingrow said, according to Prospect Heights Patch.
    Bloomberg Data Dump As an early Christmas present, Bloomberg News released a trove of data on the Federal Reserve's emergency lending programs, with daily borrowing totals for 407 institutions.
French Are World's Gloomiest France is the "most pessimistic" nation in the world when it comes to economic outlook, according to a survey of 51 countries by Gallup International, Reuters reports.
Justice Dept. Approves Merger of NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Borse
Justice Dept. Approves Merger of NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Borse The Justice Department required the sale of the German exchange's stake in Direct Edge Holdings within two years. Still, the biggest obstacle left is winning approval from the European Union.
Malaysia's Petronas Said to Be in Talks With Shell and Exxon Petronas, the oil company owned by the Malaysian government, is negotiating with companies including Shell and Exxon Mobil about developing petrochemical plants in the country, and is expected to make a decision by the middle of 2012, Reuters reports, citing unidentified people with direct knowledge of the matter.
Vulcan Formally Rejects Martin Marietta's Hostile Bid The Vulcan Materials board has reiterated arguments made in court filings that the Martin Marietta Materials tender offer undervalues the company and comes at a low point for the cyclical construction business.
AT&T Approved to Buy Spectrum AT&T said it got regulatory approval for a deal to buy $1.93 billion of wireless spectrum from Qualcomm, to enhance its 4G network, Reuters reports.
    Trading Opportunity in Australian Mining Takeover Sundance Resources, the Australian miner, has lost the lift it got after the Sichuan Hanlong Group agreed to buy it in July, creating what is now the biggest premium for a mining company since 2006, Bloomberg News reports.
Britain's Blacks Sees Little Chance of Equity Offer Blacks Leisure, the British seller of outdoor gear, said it has gotten offers for its assets and brands, but does not expect to receive an offer for its equity, which has fallen by 95 percent over the last year, Reuters reports.
Akamai to Buy a Cloud Services Provider Akamai Technologies has made its first cloud services acquisition, agreeing on Thursday to buy a three-year-old company, Contendo, for about $268 million in cash.
    Santander Insists on Paying Dividends The Spanish bank plans to pay at least 2 billion euros, or about $2.6 billion, in cash and stock to shareholders, despite being required to raise additional capital, a stance that typifies banks across Europe, The New York Times reports.
    Wall Street's Dreary Year Timothy Chen, a trader at the Maxim Group, summed up the frustration on Wall Street this year when he wrote about Mario Batali, who had compared the financial industry to Stalin and Hitler: "Thanks for kicking us when we're down, MB."
  • Citigroup Said to Raise $415 Million Investment The bank raised a $415 million collateralized loan obligation, to be managed by the CIFC Corporation, an asset manager, Bloomberg News reports, citing an unnamed person with knowledge of the deal.
    Lehman Spinoff Fund Looks to Raise $2 Billion Trilantic Capital Partners, a private equity firm that former Lehman Brothers executives created from a section of the failed investment bank, is seeking $2 billion for a fund to invest in North American companies, Bloomberg News reports.
    China Sovereign Wealth Fund Said to Be Getting More Capital The China Investment Corporation, that country's sovereign wealth fund, is set to receive $50 billion in additional funding, Reuters reports.
    Asian Private Equity Suffers From European Crisis As European banks scale back their lending in Asia, private equity firms that rely on these loans are feeling the squeeze, Reuters reports.
    Hedge Funds Remain a Must-Have Despite poor performance at some of the most storied hedge funds this year, institutional investors continue to hand them money, Reuters BreakingViews writes.
Former Lehman Executive's Fund Up 45 Percent The Juggernaut Asia Fund, run by Yashwant Bajaj, a former Lehman Brothers managing director, is up 45 percent since its start in the beginning of August, with strategies that included shorting Olympus, Reuters reports.
Hedge Funds Said to Be Eyeing MF Global Claims Firms including Longacre Fund Management, Elliott Management, Triax Capital Advisors and Contrarian Capital have offered to buy bankruptcy claims from MF Global customers, at a discount, the New York Post reports, citing unidentified people.
    Business Software Company Said to Plan $500 Million I.P.O. Workday, which makes software for companies to handle payroll and other operations, plans to file to raise as much as $500 million in an initial offering next year, Bloomberg News reports, citing unidentified people with knowledge of the matter.
    China's Xinhua Said to Eye Offering Xinhua, China's state news agency, is planning a $157.8 million initial offering of its online operations, Reuters reports, citing unidentified people with knowledge of the matter.
    South Korean I.P.O.'s Seen Increasing Initial offerings in South Korea may increase about 8 percent next year to roughly $3.5 billion, as the currency strengthens, according to a prediction by the head of global investment banking at Woori Investment & Securities, Bloomberg News reports.
    A New Kind of Tech Bubble While the rest of the world suffered from a sluggish economy, Silicon Valley's technology superstars threw lavish parties, Bloomberg Businessweek writes.

    "We live in a bubble, and I don't mean a tech bubble or a valuation bubble. I mean a bubble as in our own little world," Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google, said. "Occupy Wall Street isn't really something that comes up in daily discussion, because their issues are not our daily reality."
Tech Titans Do Battle Bloomberg Businessweek has a graphic depiction of the war being waged among Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon, belligerent companies with plenty of money to spend.
    Regulator Fines Barclays Capital Over Subprime Mortgages The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority fined Barclays Capital $3 million for misrepresenting information about subprime mortgage securities the bank sold from 2007 to 2010.
Fed Said to Mull Signaling Extension of Low Rates The Federal Reserve, which has said it plans to keep short-term interest rates near zero through the middle of 2013, may indicate that it is likely to keep rates that low into 2014 or beyond, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Volcker Rule Comment Period to Be Extended The deadline for commenting on the proposed Volcker Rule will extend to Feb. 13, from Jan. 13, Bloomberg News reports, citing an unidentified government official.
BNY Mellon Agrees to $1.3 Million Settlement Bank of New York Mellon agreed to resolve a joint investigation by New York, Texas and Florida into whether it manipulated the trading of auction-rate securities, Bloomberg News reports.
Communications Regulator Looks to Ease Rule The Federal Communications Commission has proposed relaxing a rule that limits companies' ability to own multiple media properties in the same local market, despite concern from public interest groups, The New York Times reports.
Stanford Deemed Fit for Trial R. Allen Stanford, the accused Ponzi schemer who was treated for a drug addiction he had developed in jail, was declared by a judge to be mentally able to stand trial, the Associated Press reports.

Reuters - Before the Bell: U.S. economy hopes lift European stocks


U.S. economy hopes lift European stocks
LONDON (Reuters) - A better outlook for the U.S. economy boosted European stocks and supported the euro on Friday, but any gains in the holiday-thinned markets are likely to prove short-lived with concerns about the euro zone debt crisis undiminished. | Full Article

Analysis: Economy to show stamina as global growth slows
December 23, 2011 12:03 AM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The economy is gaining momentum and should push through next year with only a few bruises despite an almost certain European recession and slower global growth. | Full Article
Exclusive: China's CIC to get $50 billion boost
December 23, 2011 05:53 AM ET
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's $410 billion sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp. is set to receive additional funding of up to $50 billion, two sources said, a step that could help it move quickly to buy overseas assets, especially in Europe. | Full Article
Exclusive: Petronas in talks with oil majors for petchem tie-up
December 23, 2011 05:52 AM ET
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Petronas is in talks with several global oil majors including Shell and Exxon Mobil to develop petrochemical plants within its $20 billion refinery complex in southern Malaysia, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said. | Full Article
Clearing in spotlight after MF Global debacle
December 23, 2011 07:50 AM ET
LONDON (Reuters) - The collapse of U.S. futures brokerage MF Global has brought to light inconsistencies in the way clearing houses operate, prompting questions over regulatory plans to use more of these platforms to make markets safer. | Full Article
Congress poised to pass payroll tax cut deal
December 23, 2011 01:14 AM ET
(Reuters) - Congress, after months of bitter fighting, is poised on Friday to pass a payroll tax cut extension that President Barack Obama argues is vital to the health of the economy. | Full Article
Forty killed, 100 wounded in Damascus blasts: Syrian TV
December 23, 2011 07:16 AM ET
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Forty people were killed and 100 wounded in two blasts which struck Damascus on Friday, Syria's Dunia television channel reported, quoting its correspondent on the scene. | Full Article
In ad for newsletter, Ron Paul forecast "race war"
December 22, 2011 08:35 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A direct-mail solicitation for Ron Paul's political and investment newsletters two decades ago warned of a "coming race war in our big cities" and of a "federal-homosexual cover-up" to play down the impact of AIDS. | Full Article
Pakistan army chief says coup speculation false
December 23, 2011 07:55 AM ET
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's powerful military pledged on Friday to continue supporting democracy, reiterating it was not planning a takeover as tensions grew over a controversial memo alleging an army plot to seize power. | Full Article
World leaders bid farewell to Vaclav Havel
December 23, 2011 07:31 AM ET
PRAGUE (Reuters) - International leaders bade farewell on Friday to former Czech President Vaclav Havel, the anti-communist dissident who led the peaceful "Velvet Revolution" and inspired human rights campaigners around the world. | Full Article