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Jan 27, 2012

NYT Global Update: France to Speed Troops' Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Global Update


France to Speed Troops' Withdrawal from Afghanistan

President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday said French troops would leave a year early, by the end of 2013.

Violence Rises in Syria, Vexing Arab League Monitors

Heavy bloodshed was reported in three cities, and the head of the observer delegation said mayhem had increased significantly.

U.S. Recovery Slowly Gained Speed in Late '11, Data Show

The American economy picked up a little steam last quarter, with output growing at an annualized rate of 2.8 percent, a faster rate than the 1.8 percent of the third quarter.

Video: TimesCast

Violence explodes in Syria, and more.


A Question of Honor

Many Pakistani public figures find their morality impugned by a supercharged media culture, yet their credibility somehow remains largely intact.

Hamas Leader Abandons Longtime Base in Damascus

Khaled Meshal has effectively abandoned his long-time base in Syria, where a popular uprising has left thousands dead, and has no plans to return, Hamas sources in Gaza said on Friday.

On a Tour Cut Short, Monitors in Syria See Little

The visit, truncated by worries about volatile areas, revealed the limitations of the Arab League's mission as the conflict shifted to clashes between armed groups and government security forces.

As Tensions Rise, Egypt Bars Exit of Six Americans

The Obama administration threatened to withhold aid as Egypt confirmed it had kept at least a half-dozen Americans from leaving.

The Welsh Economy Slips, but London Cushions the Fall

The British government's so-called money transfers prop up its poorer regions, keeping them from the kind of collapse suffered in euro zone nations like Greece.

For Greece, the Outlook Is Still Grim

A new analysis suggests the nation's economic condition is worsening, throwing a wrench into talks meant to pave the way for more financial support.

Fitch Cuts Ratings for 5 in Euro Zone, Including Italy and Spain

The agency also indicated that there is a 1-in-2 chance of further downgrades in the next two years.

For $2 a Star, an Online Retailer Gets 5-Star Product Reviews

Agencies like the Federal Trade Commission have been trying to crack down on online product reviews that do not disclose the connection between a merchant and the person doling out the praise.

Big Victory on Internet Buoys Lobby

With their success against antipiracy legislation in Congress, the Internet industry and its allies are weighing their future as a political force.

AT&T in $6.7 Billion Loss on Failure of T-Mobile Deal

AT&T posted a substantial $6.68 billion loss for the fourth quarter, primarily from the breakup fees incurred after the company's failed bid to buy T-Mobile USA.

Djokovic Outlasts Murray to Reach Final

Novak Djokovic required five sets, physical reserves and the deep reservoir of self-belief acquired in the last two seasons to keep Andy Murray at bay on Friday in the Australian Open.

A Tribal Clash in F.A. Cup

Liverpool and Manchester United engage in the oldest knockout tournament of them all, the F.A. Cup, in a soccer match that also has its share of worldly overtones.

Taking on Soccer Violence, One Derogatory Chant at a Time

The Scottish government recently passed a law making it illegal for fans to attack each other using religious or ethnic slurs in chants, Internet postings and even stray remarks at the pub.

Many Pardon Applicants Stressed Connection to Mississippi Governor

A look at the clemency applications of felons who were pardoned reveal that many contained personal appeals from friends of Gov. Haley Barbour and major Republican donors.

Student Faces Town's Wrath in Protest Against a Prayer

A girl's successful lawsuit to have a prayer removed from her high school has roiled the heavily Roman Catholic city of Cranston, where residents are appealing the decision.
On Religion

Cultural Conflicts, Playing Out on the Football Field

The attention to Tim Tebow's on-field displays of religiosity is the latest example of the way the sport reflects the culture in this country.
Op-Ed Contributor

We'll Always Have That Other Paris

As France's economy falters, its society frays and its political parties fumble for answers, the citizens have turned to a cartoon that portrays a Paris the American films have ignored.
Op-Ed Contributor

Greece's Epidemic of Racist Attacks

The attackers will back off only in the face of rapid police response, diligent investigations and more prosecutions.

Finishing the Work of Afghan Peace

My father, an ex-Mujahedeen commander, was killed by a suicide bomber. He knew the steps to take for peace.

DealBooK | DealB%K Afternoon Edition: F.B.I. Searches Offices of N.Y. Adviser on Chinese Reverse Mergers

Friday, January 27, 2012
F.B.I. Searches Offices of N.Y. Adviser on Chinese Reverse Mergers The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted a search Wednesday of New York Global Group, a corporate advisory firm that specializes in helping Chinese companies sell shares in the United States.
    Davos Potpourri, Day 3: Masters of Creation Despite being misunderstood by sci-fi nerds the world over, the event in Davos - the one in Switzerland - is proceeding at a brisk, impressive clip this week.
    Another View: Private Equity Creates Value The vice president of research at the Private Equity Growth Capital Council contends that the research on private equity is exhaustive and conclusive.
    BNP Paribas Said to Be Selling $11 Billion of Loans France's largest bank is looking to sell up to $11 billion of loans to oil and gas companies in an effort to reduce its loan book in the United States, according to people briefed on the matter.
    Top Central Banker Urges No Delay to Basel III Jaime Caruana, general manager of the Bank for International Settlements, says that he was against extending the phase-in period for new global banking regulations.
    More Fines in Greenlight Insider Case in Britain Greenlight Capital's former compliance officer and a JPMorgan Cazenove trader were fined in connection with Greenlight's sale of shares in a British pub operator more than two years ago.
    Draghi Points to Signs of Stress in Financial System Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, said Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that action by the central bank had averted a severe credit crunch, but he warned of a "short-term contraction" in the euro zone as governments cut spending.
    UniCredit Shareholders to Profit From Rights Offering Shares in the bank have risen 64 percent since Jan. 9 when the firm started a $9.8 billion so-called rights offering, putting UniCredit at the forefront of a recent rally in European banking stocks.
    Geithner Offers Upbeat U.S. Outlook, With European Caveat The United States is likely to grow 2 percent to 3 percent this year, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said in Davos, Switzerland, unless Europe fails to keep a lid on its chronic sovereign debt crisis or tensions flare with Iran.
    Eastman Chemical to Buy Solutia for $3.4 Billion Eastman Chemical said on Friday that it would acquire the specialty chemicals manufacturer Solutia for $3.38 billion, as it looks to expand in emerging markets.
    Roche Begins Tender Offer for Illumina Roche said on Friday that it had begun an unsolicited tender offer of $44.50 a share in cash for the shares of Illumina. The offer expires on Feb. 24. Ilumina's board is reviewing the proposed $5.7 billion deal.
    Illumina to Review Roche Offer Illumina said on Friday that its board would review Roche's unsolicited $5.7 billion offer. The company also said it would postpone announcing its fourth-quarter results, originally scheduled for Tuesday, until it completes its review. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch and the law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf are advising Illumina.
    Economic Reports Data released on Monday will include personal income and spending for December.
    Corporate Earnings Companies reporting on Monday will include Wendy.
    Overseas Spain releases fourth-quarter economic growth figures.

NYT Afternoon Business News: Buzz on a Facebook I.P.O. Grows Louder

Latest Busines  News

5:59 PM ET
Buzz on a Facebook I.P.O. Grows Louder
5:55 PM ET
Banks Closed in Tenn, Fla; Makes 5 Failures in '12
5:55 PM ET
Summary Box: Dow Slips; First Losing Week in 2012


The Wales Economy Slips, but London Cushions the Fall

The British government's so-called money transfers prop up its poorer regions, keeping them from the kind of collapse suffered in euro zone nations like Greece.

Stocks Decline After Growth Disappoints

Wall Street traded lower Friday after data showed the American economy grew less than expected in the fourth quarter.

Ford Posts Third-Straight Annual Profit

The automaker's earnings for 2011 were the largest in 13 years after a one-time gain in the fourth quarter.
The Lede Blog

Twitter's New Policy on Blocking Posts Is Attacked, and Defended

Twitter incited anger among its international users on Friday after it announced a new method of blocking individual posts from appearing in certain countries. But some Internet advocacy groups defended it.

Eastman Chemical to Buy Solutia for $3.4 Billion

Eastman Chemical said on Friday that it would acquire the specialty chemicals manufacturer Solutia for $3.38 billion, as it looks to expand in emerging markets.

Reuters - Daily Investors Update: U.S. growth quickens, but speed bumps ahead


S&P 500 ends near flat, trims losses late
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks trimmed earlier losses to end little changed on Friday, as investors saw dips in the market as an opportunity to buy into what's been a strong first month of 2012. | Full Article

Exclusive: Greek PM Papademos expects debt swap deal in days
January 27, 2012 03:27 PM ET
ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece expects to conclude difficult debt talks with private creditors within days and negotiations with the EU and the IMF on a new bailout deal by the middle of next week, Prime Minister Lucas Papademos told Reuters on Friday. | Full Article
In Facebook IPO, bankers seek prestige over fees
January 27, 2012 03:42 PM ET
(Reuters) - Facebook's initial public offering is likely to set a new standard for how low investment banks are willing to go on advisory fees to win big business. | Full Article
Fitch cuts Italy, Spain, other euro zone ratings
January 27, 2012 04:05 PM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fitch downgraded the sovereign credit ratings of Belgium, Cyprus, Italy, Slovenia and Spain on Friday, indicating there was a 1-in-2 chance of further cuts in the next two years. | Full Article
Analysis: Banks expect to spend less on bad mortgages
January 27, 2012 03:22 PM ET
(Reuters) - Even as President Barack Obama is calling for more assistance for struggling mortgage borrowers, major banks are looking forward to spending less to handle problem home loans. | Full Article
U.S. growth quickens, but speed bumps ahead
January 27, 2012 01:45 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace in 1-1/2 years in the fourth quarter, but a rebuilding of stocks by businesses and slower business spending warned of weaker growth in early 2012. | Full Article
Syria violence kills 37, U.N. Security Council to meet
January 27, 2012 04:06 PM ET
AMMAN (Reuters) - Security forces killed 37 people in Syria on Friday, activists and residents said, as people in Homs mourned 14 members of a family they said were slain by militiamen in one of the worst sectarian attacks in a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad. | Full Article
Romney puts Gingrich on defensive in Florida debate
January 27, 2012 12:59 PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Reuters) - Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney took the fight to chief rival Newt Gingrich on Thursday in his most aggressive debate performance yet, five days ahead of Florida's primary vote. | Full Article
Apple not turning "blind eye" to supply chain problems: CEO
January 27, 2012 03:33 PM ET
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc has never turned "a blind eye" to the problems in its supply chain and any suggestion it does not care about the plight of workers is "patently false," Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said in an email to employees. | Full Article
Obama seeks to rally Democrats to election-year fight
January 27, 2012 03:26 PM ET
CAMBRIDGE, Maryland (Reuters) - President Barack Obama vowed on Friday to push back hard against Republicans who try to obstruct his election-year proposals on taxes and jobs, as he sought to rally congressional Democrats and move past a period of strained relations. | Full Article
China cadmium spill threatens drinking water for millions
Gel lubricant reduces pain during vaginal exams
U.S. detains Brazil, Canada orange juice for fungicide
One million children in Sahel at risk, UNICEF warns
Canada's Saputo warns of cleaning solution in milk

MarketWatch | Weekly Roundup top 10 stories Jan. 23 - 27


Weekly Roundup
JANUARY 27, 2012

MarketWatch top 10 stories Jan. 23 - 27

By MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — U.S. stocks on Friday finished mostly lower, with the S&P 500 managing to extend its winning streak into a fourth week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)  fell 74.17 points, or 0.6%, to 12,660.46, leaving it down 0.5% for the week, its first weekly drop in four.

The S&P 50 (SPX)  shed 2.10 points, or 0.2%, to 1,316.33, but managed to remain 0.1% up from the week-ago close

The Nasdaq Composite (COMP)  added 11.27 points, or 0.4%, to 2,816.55, up 1.1% for the week.

Also please be sure to watch our week Ahead Videos.

Greg Morcroft, assistant managing editor

 Europe Week Ahead: EU Summitt, Earnings in Focus

Economy expands 2.8% in fourth quarter

The U.S. economy grew at the fastest rate in a year and a half in the fourth quarter, but a large chunk of the increase was fueled by an unexpected buildup in inventories, according to a preliminary government estimate. Gross domestic product from October through December expanded at a 2.8% pace, up from 1.8% in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch projected GDP would rise 3.0%. See full story on U.S. GDP, on MarketWartch

RIM draws tepid reaction with CEO shift

Research In Motion Ltd. (RIMM) drew a tepid reaction from Wall Street this week as analysts questioned the company's surprise appointment of an insider to the CEO post. "The changes appear more cosmetic than substantive," wrote Charlie Wolf of Needham & Co. in a note to clients Monday morning. Earlier this week, the company said Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have stepped down from their management roles at the company, with Chief Operating Officer Thorsten Heins, a former Siemens executive who joined RIM in 2007, to take the CEO reins. Read about RIM shakeup, on MarketWatch

Gold ends atop $1,700; Fed extends low-rate pledge

Gold prices ended the week higher after breaking to six week highs above $1,700 an ounce, as the Federal Reserve's monetary-policy committee extended its pledge to keep interest rates at exceptionally low levels till late 2014, which will help boost demand for the precious metal as an inflation hedge. "It looks like someone awoke to the fact that loose monetary policy will eventually impact the value of the dollar and allow gold to move higher," said Jeffrey Wright, managing director at Global Hunter Securities. Read about gold's move above $1,700 an ounce this week, on MarketWatch

Apple shares hit high on blow-out results

Shares of Apple Inc. (AAPL) jumped to an all-time high this week following the company's blow-out results for its first fiscal quarter, in which earnings more than doubled on strong sales of the iPhone and iPad. reported that earnings more than doubled in the December quarter, as the company sold more than 37 million iPhones, blowing past analysts' estimates for the period. The typically conservative company also issued a forecast for the current period that was above Wall Street's forecasts. Read MarketWatch coverage of Apple quarterly earnings report

Fed pushes out low-rate pledge to late 2014

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday pledged to hold interest rates low until late 2014, a move that surprised markets and showed the central bank is still worried that economic growth is at risk of faltering. The new commitment extends the prior statement that economic conditions were likely to keep rates at the historic low range of 0% to 0.25% until at least mid-2013.The Fed opened a new era of transparency, releasing for the first time the projected path of rates by its 17 members and set a specific inflation goal of 2%. But it was extending the timing of the first rate move that overshadowed all the moves. Read about latest Fed projections and new policy, on MarketWatch

Jobless claims in U.S. rise sharply

New applications for unemployment benefits rose sharply last week, but initials claims remain at a level usually associated with a modest improvement in U.S. hiring trends.Jobless claims climbed by 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 377,000 in the week ended Jan. 21, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had estimated claims would climb to 373,000.Claims from two weeks ago were revised up by 4,000. Read about latest jobless claims, on MarketWatch

Netflix shares mount comeback on results

Investors gave Netflix Inc. (NFLX) breathing room this week, sending the online video provider and DVD-rental company's stock up more than 25% Still, Netflix's shares have turned into a market darling this year, rising more than 67% in less than a month. Read latest developments in the Netflix sags, on MarketWatch

10 income-paying stocks that beat the crowd

Shares of high-quality, cash-rich, large-cap companies that yield more than the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index are the new favorites in many portfolios. But many of these success stories have been discovered, boosting share prices and trimming yields. In searching for attractively priced, profitable companies that wouldn't necessarily appear on a high-yield screen, MarketWatch enlisted the help of two researchers: Morningstar's Peters and David Trainer, president of investment researcher New Constructs Inc. in Nashville. Here are 10 companies, culled from the two screens, that are debt-free and have a history of dividend increases. Read about the dividend screens, on MarketWatch

Facebook to file for IPO Wednesday: WSJ

Facebook may file documents for an initial public offering on Wednesday, eyeing a valuation of $75 billion to $100 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. Morgan Stanley is close to winning the IPO deal, while Goldman Sachs is expected to play a key role, according to the Journal, which cited an unnamed source. Read more about the reported Facebook IPO, on MarketWatch

Retirement in America is ‘endangered'

President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union speech, didn't really touch on the subject near and dear to the hearts of millions of Americans — the State of Retirement in the U.S. No doubt he had other pressing matters to address. So allow us the pleasure of issuing — thanks in large part to many experts on the topic — our State of Retirement column.In short: Things are bad and, in the absence of action or in the presence of ill-advised action, could get much worse. Read more about the sad state of retirement in the U.S., on MarketWatch

White Hose expands foreclosure prevention program | Economy and Politics | MarketWatch


By Ronald D. Orol MarketWatch

The Treasury Department on Friday expanded a troubled program seeking to help troubled borrowers on the verge of foreclosure, expanding incentive payments to investors so they participate in the program.  

White House expands foreclosure prevention program
See full story

Stocks and Markets in the News | Wall Street at Close: U.S. stocks mostly down; S&P streak holds - MarketWatch

By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch 

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) U.S. stocks on Friday finished mostly lower, but a late surge in financial shares helped the S&P 500 preserve a fourth week of gains after the White House said it would expand a foreclosure-prevention program and hope grew for a Greek debt-deal. 

“The big news the last couple of weeks is the program they launched over in Europe, the lending facility to the banking system, seems to be working,” said Owen Fitzpatrick, head of the U.S. equity group at Deutsche Bank. 

Down much of the session, the financial sector reversed course in the final hour of trade as the White House said it would loosen rules on a loan-modification program. Read more on White House’s foreclosure help. 
The sector also drew a late lift from reports that Facebook plans a much-anticipated Initial public offering next week, with the Wall Street Journal reporting investment banks Morgan Stanley MS +0.11%   and Goldman Sachs GS +0.23%   would participate. Both stocks closed near their highs of the session. 

currency exchange

Asian currencies to watch in 2012

Currencies are a major factor for the Asia-Pacific economies, and forex moves may determine whether the region remains the world's growth engine. Check out these briefings on four key Asian currencies and where they may be headed.
indian rupee INR Can India gold save the rupee?
India's currency suffered a heavy drop late last year, and some believe the culprit may be gold.
china yuan CNY China's yuan goes international The 2008 crisis may have had an unexpected result: Pushing Beijing to open up its currency.
japanese yen JPY Japan's yen looks irrepressible
In spite of many fundamentals that should sink the currency, the yen is soaring. Can it continue?
aussie dollar AUD Aussie may fall before it rises
Australia's currency looks strong for the long term, but Europe may push it lower for now.
Up 3.6% for the month to date, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA -0.58%  lost 74.17 points, or 0.6%, to end at 12,660.46, down 0.5% for its first weekly loss in four. 

Chevron Corp. CVX +0.47%  shares were among those weighing on the blue-chip index, down 2.5%, after the oil major reported a drop in profit that also fell short of estimates. Read more on Chevron. 
Up 4.7% for the year so far, the S&P 500 Index SPX -0.16%  shifted briefly higher and ended the day down 2.1 points, or 0.2%, at 1,316.33, up 0.1% from the week-ago close. 

Component Ford Motor Co. F +0.08%  reported its 11th straight profitable quarter, but the auto maker’s results came in below predictions, and its shares were down 4.2%. Read more on Ford. 
“This earnings season hasn’t been nearly as robust as the last couple; there’s a bias toward companies beating versus missing, which is reflecting a slow-growing economy,” according to Fitzpatrick.
Up 1.1% for the week, the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP +0.40%  added 11.27 points, or 0.4%, at 2,816.55, with the index up 8.1% for the month and year so far. 

For every stock on the decline nearly two gained on the New York Stock Exchange, where nearly 851 million shares traded. Composite volume neared 4 billion shares. 

Pause button?

“We’ve had such a good run, one of the strongest we’ve had in a long time from the start of the year, so we’re overdue,” said Fitzpatrick of the late-week decline in equities. 

Facebook IPO filing close Facebook could file IPO paperwork as early as Wednesday of next week, and Morgan Stanley is close to winning the "lead left" position in the IPO. Facebook has been valued between $75 and $100 Billion dollars. 

“There are a lot of bullish surveys, which is usually a clear sign that things are going to correct,” he added.
U.S. stocks had started mostly lower after the U.S. government said the economy grew 2.8% in 2011’s final quarter, less than the 3% predicted by analysts surveyed by MarketWatch. Read more on GDP.
A rise in consumer confidence had equities only briefly trimming their decline. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment for January climbed to 75 from 69.9 at the end of December. Read more on consumer sentiment. 
Fitch Ratings on Friday afternoon cut the credit ratings of Spain, Italy, Belgium, Cyprus and Slovenia, saying the five nations do not hold enough financial leverage amid the regional debt crisis.
The downgrades, which Fitch warned of in December, came as negotiators for private creditors headed back to Athens for talks on a debt swap to reduce Greece’s borrowings and avoid a possible default. 

“We all know it’s just a matter of getting everyone lined up in terms of getting private investors to take a haircut, and here domestically, things have been headed in the right direction,” said Fitzpatrick at Deutsche Bank. “The program they launched over in Europe, the lending facility to the banking system, seems to be working, with yields on Spain and Italy’s sovereign debt making substantial moves in the right direction.”
“The one exception is Portugal, which seems to be headed in the wrong direction and is up another 38 basis points today,” he added. Read more on Europe’s debt situation. 
Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.