November Jobs Report, by the Numbers

The November employment report showed a payroll decline of just 11,000 jobs (the best since December 2007, the last positive figure) and the unemployment rate dropping to 10% (except for October, highest since 1983). Below the headline figures, some other notable ups and downs:

Temps: Employment in temporary help services rose 51,000 in November, following October’s 42,000 increase and the highest since the 55,000 increase in October 2004. (Before that, the highest was almost 76,000 at the height of the tech boom in October 1999.) Temp payrolls have risen four straight months. But they’re still off almost 30% from three years ago.

Government: What budget crises? Government employment eked out a gain of 7,000 after October’s 46,000 increase. Government employment is up by 132,000 jobs since the recession started. State government overall rose 5,000 (though without education would’ve declined by 5,300). Local government gained 1,000 (though without education would’ve declined by 10,500).

Teaching and Healing: The education and health services category gained 40,000, matching the prior month’s increase. That marked the 62nd straight month of gains.

Still Grim: Beleaguered sectors continued worsening. Construction fell for the 29th straight month. Manufacturing marked its 24th straight month decline. Retail employment fell 15,000, in its 22nd straight monthly decline, but that was the best since the January 2008 gain of 3,800.

Longer Hours:
Total hours worked rose 0.6% from the prior month, the first gain since July’s slight increase of 0.1% (which followed months of declines before that).

Discouraged: U-6 unemployment fell to 17.2% from 17.5% (its high during this downturn). As the economy recovers, this figure should fall as discouraged workers return to the job market — but that keeps the headline unemployment rate elevated.

Rising Joblessness: Unemployment increased in one category: African-American teenage unemployment (ages 16-19) rose to 49.4% from 41.3%. Overall teen unemployment fell to 26.7% from 27.6%. Overall black unemployment fell to 15.6% from 15.7%

Still Looking: The average duration of unemployment rose to 28.5 weeks from 26.9 weeks, the highest on record.


Friendster Reportedly To Be Sold For Over $100 Million

Friendster, a pioneering online social network that has fallen far behind newer sites like Facebook and Twitter, will be sold to an Asian buyer by the end of this month for at least $100 million, Reuters reports, citing “a source familiar with the matter.”

The piece notes that Friendster is now mostly used in Asia; it still has about 100 million registered users.

Friendster CEO Richard Kimber told Reuters that the company has hired Morgan Stanley to handle the deal, and that the company has “a shortlist that we are negotiating with.” The story says that China-based  Tencent Holdings is among the bidders, and that Facebook showed interest but was turned down due to competitive and intellectual property issues.

Investors in the company include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Benchmark Capital, DAG Ventures, IDG Ventures, and individual investors.

Capital One TARP Warrants Net $146.5 Million

Bloomberg reports:

Capital One Financial Corp. warrants held by the U.S. government’s bank bailout program sold for $146.5 million in the first auction designed to reward taxpayers for helping rescue the financial system.

The 12.7 million warrants given to the Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program last year sold for $11.75 each, the department said today in a statement. Linus Wilson, an assistant finance professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette who tracks TARP returns, had estimated the warrants were worth $227 million to $376 million.

Related (vaguely):
TARP Warrants: Linus Wilson Analysis Flawed

Amazon Reportedly In Talks To Buy Vente-Privee For $3B

Amazon.com (AMZN) is in talks to acquire Vente-Privee, a French private sales club, for about 2 billion Euros, or around $3 billion, according to TechCrunch.

TechCrunch writes that Vente-Privee has become “a powerhouse of a new wave in Europe: online private sales clubs involving designer fashion brands.” The site writes that Vente-Privee is “on target” for 650 million Euros in sales this year, and has more than 1,000 employees.

AMZN today is up 97 cents, or 0.7%, to $142.14.

Cramer on BloggingStocks: Mixed feelings on the BofA capital raise

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TheStreet.com's Jim Cramer says it's good they could raise $19 billion so fast, but there are lots of reasons to be tentative here.

You have to have mixed emotions about this Bank of America (BAC) (Cramer's Take) deal. It's terrific that in 24 hours, a company that has no CEO and no history of making money during this tough period can raise $19 billion. But it is not terrific that $19 billion in buying power disappeared like that in a market where $19 billion actually matters, and is a precursor to maybe triple that figure that has to be raised within a short period of time.

Remember when we first did the TARP raises, the initial guys did pretty well but as we went down the path it got tougher and the stocks got hammered more, and you wanted to be short all of the financials even though the early ones popped.

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Best Jobs Reports vs. Expectations

In our Economic Indicator Database (available to Premium Plus members), we've cataloged every economic indicator released since 1998 and calculated how the report came in versus expectations and how the S&P 500 and its ten sectors performed on the release date. From the database, we pulled the best Non Farm Payrolls reports versus expectations since 1998 to see where today's...


RIMM: AT&T Cuts BlackBerry Prices 50%

In a holiday promotion, AT&T (T) yesterday announced a 50% price cut on all Research In Motion (RIMM) BlackBerry smartphones after a mail-in rebate. The deal includes the new Bold 9700, the older Bold 9000 and four versions of the Curve. AT&T also is offering the Samsung Solstice touch-screen phone free after a mail-in rebate. The offers require two-year service agreements, and are available both online and in AT&T stores.

The new pricing starts today.

Broader Jobless Rate Declines to 17.2%

The U.S. jobless rate dropped 0.2 percentage points to 10% in November, the first decline in three months, but the government’s broader measure of unemployment tumbled even more, falling 0.3 point to 17.2%.

The comprehensive gauge of labor underutilization, known as the “U-6″ for its data classification by the Labor Department, accounts for people who have stopped looking for work or who can’t find full-time jobs. Though the drop is a sign of improvement, the rate’s continuing divergence from the official number (the “U-3″ unemployment measure) indicates the job market has a long way to go before growth in the economy translates into relief for workers.

The 10% unemployment rate is calculated based on people who are without jobs, who are available to work and who have actively sought work in the prior four weeks. The “actively looking for work” definition is fairly broad, including people who contacted an employer, employment agency, job center or friends; sent out resumes or filled out applications; or answered or placed ads, among other things.

The U-6 figure includes everyone in the official rate plus “marginally attached workers” — those who are neither working nor looking for work, but say they want a job and have looked for work recently; and people who are employed part-time for economic reasons, meaning they want full-time work but took a part-time schedule instead because that’s all they could find.

In the coming months, the U-6 measure may be an important signal for the labor market. Even though it posted a decline this month, the official jobless rate is likely to rise or at least hold steady through the first half of next year as more people return to the job market. That means Americans who now fall into the U-6 category, for stopping their job searches due to discouragement, will eventually fall into the U-3 category as they restart their job hunt.

A U-6 figure that converges toward the official rate (even an official rate that’s above 10%) could indicate improving confidence in the labor market and the overall economy. This month indicates a start toward convergence, but real progress could be months away.


Riveron Hires Biz Dev Director

Riveron Consulting, a consulting firm serving private equity funds, expanded into the Chicago market with the hiring of Jason Apple as director of business development. Apple was previously Mrsenior vice president of business development for Houlihan Lokey.

Press release:

Riveron Consulting (www.riveronconsulting.com), a unique financial consulting firm serving private equity funds and firms that are growing through strategic acquisitions, has expanded into the Chicago market with the hiring of Jason Apple as director of business development.

“With an economic rebound seemingly underway, the high concentration of middle-market private equity firms in Chicago and the Midwest makes the area a strategic place for Riveron’s expansion,” said Landon Smith, managing partner of Riveron. “Jason Apple has the background and the track record to help us deliver on our exciting growth plans. He fits right in with all of our professionals who combine significant public accounting and industry-specific operational expertise which translates into the highest quality results for clients. Unlike other transaction services providers, Riveron’s capabilities extend beyond getting the deal done. We routinely provide integration support and a variety of financial consulting services.”

Most recently, Mr. Apple served as a senior vice president of business development for Houlihan Lokey, an international investment bank serving the middle market merger and acquisitions marketplace. He has also had business development responsibilities for Deloitte Financial Advisory Services. At PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Equity Group Investments, a Sam Zell private equity investment firm, he performed financial modeling, industry research and competitive analysis for investments in industries including manufacturing, consumer products, business services, healthcare and others.

“Joining Riveron to accelerate its expansion is a tremendous opportunity, and I am extremely excited about bringing Riveron’s expertise to private equity firms in the region,” Apple said. “I have been very impressed with Riveron’s dedication to helping its clients achieve the most favorable results for their investors. Riveron’s success comes from striving to create successful, long-term relationships, delivering high-quality transaction services and resolving complex accounting matters through practical solutions.”

Mr. Apple has a degree in Economics from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, and an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

About Riveron Consulting

Founded in 2003, Riveron has its headquarters in Dallas. It is a financial consulting firm serving a diverse set of middle-market market private equity funds and companies growing through acquisitions. Although it is not a public accounting firm, most of Riveron’s principals have accounting experience from Big Four accounting firms. Riveron’s mission is to help clients maximize the value of strategic and financial transactions through buy-side and sell-side financial due diligence and other special project accounting and financial services. An intimate understanding of a broad range of industries including manufacturing, distribution, retail, financial services, technology, energy and many others allows Riveron consultants to go well beyond the mere numbers on a balance sheet or income statement to discover value.

Riveron Consulting is located at 3131 Turtle Creek Blvd., Suite 400, Dallas, Texas 75219. Phone (214) 891-5500 or visit the firm’s web site at www.riveronconsulting.com. The firm’s Chicago office is located at 30 South Wacker, 22nd Floor, Chicago, IL, 60606. Phone (312) 902-3000.

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Oracle: Ellison Reportedly Offers Compromise On MySQL To Address EU Concerns On Sun Deal; UPDATE: “Wrong,” Oracle Says

Sun Microsystems (JAVA) shares are trading higher this morning on a report that Oracle (ORCL) Chairman Larry Ellison is offering European regulators a compromise to address their concerns about Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL, Sun’s open source database software unit.

According to the New York Post, Ellison has offered to create a separate entity within a combined Oracle/Sun to house MySQL which would be “firewalled” off from the rest of the company, possibly with its own board of directors.

As the story notes, that is a change in approach by Oracle, which had previously said it planned to “vigorously” oppose the European regulators position on the deal.

JAVA this morning is up 47 cents, or 5.7%, to $8.70; ORCL is up 25 cents, or 1.1%, to $22.89.

Update: A spokesperson for Oracle says the Post report is “completely untrue,” according to Reuters.

HiBeam Raises More Money

HiBeam Internet & Voice raised additional seed funding from private investors. Both existing and new investors participated in this funding, which HiBeam plans to use to continue to deploy 4G wireless into rural and semi-rural markets. The terms were not disclosed.

Press release:

HiBeam Internet & Voice (www.MyHiBeam.com) today announced it raised additional seed funding from private investors. Both existing and new investors participated in this funding, which HiBeam plans to use to continue to deploy 4G wireless into rural and semi-rural markets.

“Even in a challenging economy, the investment community is impressed with HiBeam’s business plan,” said Brent St. John, Chairman of HiBeam. “The company’s management team coupled with its strategically sound plan for deployment of Internet and voice services attracted both new and existing investors.”

Founded in 2007, HiBeam currently provides WiMAX service to customers in rural St. Louis and Peoria, Illinois. HiBeam is bringing top notch wireless broadband and other services to the nation’s tier two through tier five markets in the Midwest and Southeast.

“Our mission at HiBeam is to deliver the latest WiMAX equipment and 99.999% up time to rural and semi-rural America–the same high-quality service offerings that urban America takes for granted,” said Michael Cassity, CEO for HiBeam. “As we enter new markets, our goal is to become an integral part of each community we have the privilege of serving.”

HiBeam’s customers enjoy local sales and technical support, industry-standard 4G technology, a fair price, and voice and Internet that is both simple and easy. New customers work hand-in-hand with a local technician with service being available in two days or less. With its recent acquisition of licensed 2.5 GHz spectrum (http://tinyurl.com/yecneo4), HiBeam can potentially serve a population of 541,693 households and businesses that currently do not have the opportunity to enjoy affordable and easy-to-use voice and Internet services. HiBeam’s new spectrum represents more than 47,436,873 million MHz/pops of spectrum availability.

HiBeam will launch services in Mt. Vernon/Marion, IL, and Joplin, MO in early 2010 with additional markets to rapidly follow.

About HiBeam

HiBeam Internet & Voice is a rapidly growing privately owned Broadband and Voice provider. Its mission is to be the leader in providing broadband services to residential, small and medium business, and local government in selected, regionally concentrated tier two through tier five markets. The company is headquartered in Chesterfield, MO, and was formerly known as N-1 Communications and Buzz Broadband. Info: (636) 764-0343 or www.MyHiBeam.com.

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Deals of the Day: BofA Raises Record $19 Billion for TARP Exit

Deals of the Day gathers all the biggest news of the morning related to mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies, financing and private equity. Deal Journal’s homepage is http://blogs.wsj.com/deals. You can see real-time updates of our posts and our favorite deal-related articles on other Web sites through our Twitter feed at http://twitter.com/wsjdealjournal.

Mergers & Acquisitions

NBCU: Comcast agreed to take control of NBC Universal from GE, combining the largest U.S. cable company with a media conglomerate valued at $30 billion. [WSJ]
Related: The deal leaves GE with $8 billion in net cash and an obligation to explain where he plans to steer the company. [Bloomberg]

Warren Buffett: Berskhire Hathaway said it will hold a shareholder meeting Jan. 20 on its proposal to undertake a 50-to-1 split of its Class B shares as part of its acquisition of Burlington Northern. [WSJ]

Cisco-Tandberg: Cisco failed to reach a key milestone in its proposed acquisition of the Norwegian videoconferencing maker, but said that it will press ahead with the deal anyway. [WSJ]

Oracle-Sun: Larry Ellison is backing down from his vow to fight European antitrust regulators who oppose his company’s $7 billion purchase of Sun Microsystems, offering to quarantine a Sun unit at the heart of the conflict. [NY Post]

Kraft-Cadbury: Kraft is expected to release the offer documents for its bid for Cadbury. [FT.com]

BHP-Rio: BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto will agree terms on their $100 billion iron-ore joint venture tomorrow morning. [Times of London]

Companies & Industries

General Motors: GM is expected to announce a string of management changes, including a new role for Vice Chairman Lutz and the promotion of some of the company’s younger managers. [WSJ]
Related: Suzuki will sell its entire stake in a 50-50 Canadian joint venture to its partner General Motors, as the U.S. car maker strives to get back on its feet. [WSJ]
Related: Whitacre may end up hiring himself. [Bloomberg]

Financial Institutions

Getting out from under the government’s thumb: Bank of America isn’t likely to announce the hiring of its new CEO until at least next week, despite the boost it is getting from paying back $45 billion to the U.S. government. Late Thursday, the bank priced $19.3 billion in securities at $15 a share. [WSJ]

Citi: Abu Dhabi’s fund will start buying $7.5 billion in Citi stock at a cost well above the bank’s recent share price, the result of a deal struck two years ago. [WSJ]

Underestimating RBS Troubles: The U.K. Treasury concluded that RBS was well-enough capitalized less than a week before the bank was cut off from wholesale markets and neared collapse, a report into the British response to the financial crisis showed. [WSJ]

Big fees advising on bailouts: Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and law firms working on the government bailouts of British lenders Northern Rock and RBS will earn $178.2 million in fees for their advice. [Bloomberg]

O’ Canada: Three Canadian banks reported higher fourth-quarter earnings, with strong capital levels and healthy return on equity. [WSJ]

Buyside

Galleon: Federal prosecutors investigated hedge-fund titan Raj Rajaratnam on suspicions of insider trading more than a decade before he was charged with securities. [WSJ]

Bankruptcies & Restructurings

General Growth: Brookfield Asset Management and Simon Property have bought portions of General Growth Properties’ bank debt and bonds to position themselves to make bids for all or part the mall giant. [WSJ]

Capital Market

China Longyuan Power Group: The firm raised $2.2 billion in Hong Kong’s fourth-largest initial public offering so far this year by pricing the share sale at the top end of the range. [WSJ]


Unemployment falls during November — stocks to rally

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It looks like we may have a bit of a rally on this final trading day of the first week of December thanks to the nonfarm payroll report. During November, 11,000 jobs were shed, far fewer than the expected 100,000 and the fewest lost jobs since December 2007. And the unemployment rate dropped to 10%.

There is a word of caution, as some economists believe that November's payroll figures could appear better because of the way the government adjusts the data for seasonal factors. That's the only wet blanket I will throw on this news, as the "seasonal factor issue" does not impact the jobless rate.

Continue reading Unemployment falls during November -- stocks to rally

Unemployment falls during November -- stocks to rally originally appeared on BloggingStocks on Fri, 04 Dec 2009 09:17:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Drumbeat: December 4, 2009


Oil running out faster than admitted

When Winston Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty 98 years ago he made a pivotal reform that assured the British navy's dominance of the waves during World War One.

The British fleet had been powered entirely by Welsh coal until 1911, a fuel that forced long and tiresome refuelling stops that forced warships into port and away from battle.

Churchill was looking for an answer.

He found one in oil. Fifty one years after a crazy Yankee known as Colonel Edwin Drake found black gold in Pennsylvania, Winston Churchill converted his fleet from coal to oil, a step that changed war, peace and business for the rest of the 20th century.

Nearly a hundred years later the stuff is showing signs of running out.

Budgeting carbon cuts

Local and national governments have only 40 years to plan and build a zero carbon society if the world is to avoid catastrophic global warming, David Knight and Bob Whitmarsh warn.

Climate change and peak oil present planners with an enormous challenge. A national and international response, including some permutation of capping greenhouse gas emissions, carbon taxes and investing in clean energy, needs to be combined with bottom-up local and regional initiatives. Target setting is crucial. But at which targets should planners be aiming?


'Collapse': A documentary about our scary fate

Michael Ruppert looks cornered in a gritty Los Angeles meat locker, ranting to an unseen documentarian and smoking as if there was no tomorrow.

And that's exactly his belief: There will be no tomorrow because of our alarming dependence on oil, which is about to dry up, and because our economic system has become one big pyramid scheme. Electric cars are a smoke screen, clean coal is a joke and ethanol is an even bigger joke. You better start saving organic seeds, because they'll be the real currency when (not if) the apocalypse hits.

(Collapse will begin airing on Time Warner Movies on Demand starting Sunday, Dec. 6.)


Small houses go big-time

Tell the truth now. You have a formal dining room but eat at the breakfast nook. The living room with the vaulted ceiling sits empty while everyone piles into the family room. That third bathroom doesn't get visited more than once a week.

There's a lot of space that just doesn't get used, despite the labor and material required to build it and the money you're spending to heat and cool it. Looking at it, of course, is free.

Is that how you should be living?


Imagining 2020 #4: Green Crude by Pete Fowler

I was very pessimistic until last year about our prospects of weaning off fossil fuels before reaching an irreversible tipping point. Some positive feedback loop would kick in, like higher temperatures releasing trapped methane from arctic permafrost and seafloor sediments. Increased atmospheric methane, about 30 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2, would further raise temperatures. End result? Within a few decades Earth would be as hot as Venus. The whole of humanity would go the way of the civilisations described by Jared Diamond in Collapse, who could see they were on a track to self destruction but were unable to alter course.

In 2008 I read one of the most positive books ever written; The Singularity Is Near, by Ray Kurzweil. He points out that whichever way you measure the rate of technological change, it accelerates exponentially. Moore’s law for instance predicted in 1965 that artificial intelligence would double in complexity and halve in cost every two years. It’s held for the last 44 years, and if it continues to hold until 2020, we’ll then have machines approaching human intelligence.


Saudi Arabia’s Naimi Says Oil Price ‘OK’ Near $75

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said crude oil prices are satisfactory close to their current level of $75 a barrel.

Asked whether OPEC should raise production at its Dec. 22 meeting, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said: “We still have time, but right now the price is OK, between $70 and $80, close to the target, almost $75.”

Inventories of oil “are coming down,” he told reporters today in Cairo, before a meeting of Arab petroleum ministers. He declined to comment more on OPEC policy.


ANALYSIS - OPEC set for no change, oil price holds the key

DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC is expected to hold output steady when it meets in Luanda at the end of this month, rounding off a year of stable production policy and of robust oil prices.

Oil inventories are brimming and any recovery in demand is expected to be slow, but international benchmark U.S. crude futures have more than doubled from just above $32 a barrel last December to above $76 now -- roughly the level OPEC has said is high enough for producers and not too high for the still delicate world economy.

"The oil price has not been the cause of surprise for us for some time, so there is really no need for OPEC to surprise the oil market," one OPEC delegate told Reuters.


ConocoPhillips to Keep Lukoil Stake, Chief Mulva Says

(Bloomberg) -- ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, will keep its stake in OAO Lukoil as it seeks to divest $10 billion in assets over the next two years.

The Houston-based company’s 20 percent stake in Russia’s second-largest oil producer is a “strategic asset” and won’t be sold, Chief Executive Officer Jim Mulva said in an interview at a conference in the Kazakh capital Astana today.


Nigeria repairs key pipeline for two refineries

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Nigeria has repaired a key pipeline connecting Chevron's Escravos oil and gas fields to two domestic refineries, a senior industry official said on Friday.


Colonial Pipeline Limits Gasoline Supply Shipments for Cycle 70

(Bloomberg) -- Colonial Pipeline Co., which operates the largest pipeline linking U.S. Gulf Coast refiners and East Coast markets, will limit shipments of gasoline because orders exceed the company’s ability to deliver fuel on time.

The Alpharetta, Georgia-based company issued the requirement, known as an allocation, in a bulletin to shippers for the 70th cycle. The restriction applies to shipments on Colonial pipelines north of Collins, Mississippi.


Sinopec Says Operations Next Year Will Be ‘Fierce, Arduous’

(Bloomberg) -- China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., the nation’s largest oil refiner, said its operations face risks and uncertainties next year because of volatile global crude prices and rising domestic chemical capacity.

Both the oil products and chemical businesses will face “fierce” competition and the first quarter of next year will be “arduous,” according to a statement today in the online newsletter of parent China Petrochemical Corp.


China's Sinopec signs 20-year deal with Exxon Mobil to buy Papua New Guinea gas

BEIJING (AP) — State-owned Sinopec Corp. said Friday it has signed a 20-year contract with Exxon Mobil Corp. to buy gas from Papua New Guinea, in the latest of a flurry of foreign deals to secure fuel for China's booming economy.

The liquefied natural gas will come from a project being developed by Exxon Mobil and other investors in Papua New Guinea's central highlands. Sinopec gave no financial details.


How utilities are just like banks

Just like many UK consumers were offered products to fix tariffs back in 2008 when natural gas prices were much higher — up until 2012 in some cases — so were industrial and commercial players.

Now, according to Nick Campbell, an analyst at energy consultancy Inenco — a firm that advises companies on how to manage their energy exposure — many companies have found themselves stuck with uncompetitive three-year deals fixed back in 2008 when prices were sometimes twice as high.


Shell Starts Reassessment of New Zealand’s Oldest Gas Field

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, has sought a formal reassessment of the fuel remaining in New Zealand’s oldest gas field.

Shell and partner Todd Energy Ltd. have begun the process to re-determine the field’s outstanding reserves, customer Vector Ltd. said in a statement to the New Zealand stock exchange today. Vector has hired an international consultant and the parties will meet Feb. 3 on the issue, the Auckland-based company said.


Seadrill’s West Atlas Condemned, Removal Date Unsure

(Bloomberg) -- Seadrill Ltd., the drilling company founded by billionaire John Fredriksen, said it’s unclear how long it will take to remove its fire-damaged West Atlas rig from the Montara field after it was formally condemned.

West Atlas caught fire on Nov. 1 along with PTT Exploration & Production Plc’s Montara wellhead platform off the Australian coast. The blaze broke out while trying to plug a leak by pumping heavy mud into the well, according to PTTEP Australasia.


Valero May Buy Ethanol Plant, Sell Paulsboro Refinery

(Bloomberg) -- Valero Energy Corp., the largest U.S. independent refiner, is looking to buy additional ethanol plants because they provide a good supplement to Valero’s business of producing gasoline, diesel and other fuels, Chief Executive Officer Bill Klesse said.

The San Antonio-based company, which bought ethanol plants from bankrupt producer VeraSun Energy Corp. earlier this year, will consider plants that are available at below their replacement cost, Klesse said in an interview at the Platts Global Energy Awards.


Will fusion fade ... or finally flare up?

Is nuclear fusion the ultimate energy source, or the ultimate pipe dream? Millions upon millions of dollars are being spent to find out which answer is the right one. For some technologies, the answer could come sooner than later. For others, it may be later rather than sooner.


In uranium we trust

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- With just one more permit from the State of Colorado, Energy Fuels Resources Corporation founder and CEO George Glasier can break ground for the first new U.S. uranium mill since the Cold War.


Tesla $128,500 Electric Car Drives Like Go-Cart on Meth: Review

Of course claims and reality can go off on different paths like Cain and Abel. The Tesla puts out no pollution and will rumble with Porsches off the line, but unlike a second- generation Prius, there are compromises.

Range on my test drive is disappointing. At a full charge of the lithium-ion batteries, the car’s digital monitor gives me an expected range of 203 miles, and then begins downgrading that number more quickly than stock in a newspaper conglomerate.


Pioneering solar-powered plane makes airborne hop

GENEVA (AFP) – The prototype of Solar Impulse, a pioneering Swiss bid to fly around the world on solar power, briefly took off for the first time on Thursday but under battery power, the organisers said.

The high tech single-seater with the wingspan of an Airbus A340 airliner (63.40 metres) made a controlled 400 metre (yard) flight about one metre above the runway at Duebendorf air base near the Swiss city of Zurich, said co-founders Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg.


Solarfun to build 100 MW solar power plant in China

(Reuters) - Chinese photovoltaic cell maker Solarfun Power Holdings Co Ltd said one of its units had signed an agreement to build a 100 megawatt solar power plant in China.

The company said its wholly owned subsidiary, Jiangsu Linyang Solarfun Co Ltd, had signed an agreement with the government of Jiayuguan City, Gansu Province, to build the plant.


Wind Power Raises $2.3 Billion in Hong Kong

China Longyuan Power Group, the country’s largest wind-power producer, raised HK$17.5 billion ($2.26 billion) in the world’s third-biggest initial public offering by an alternative energy company, Bloomberg News reported.


Clean Energy May Hire Nomura for 2010 IPO, Double Wind Capacity

(Bloomberg) -- Clean Energy Factory Co., Japan’s fourth-biggest wind-farm operator, said it is in talks to hire Nomura Holdings Inc. to manage an initial share sale in late 2010 to help fund a plan to double capacity in five years.

The company known as CEF plans to raise as much as 10 billion yen ($115 million) and list the shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, President Hiroyuki Kamata, 49, said in an interview at his Tokyo office.


Saudi Corp to Seek Bids for Desalination Plant, Awsat Says

He also said that the plant will produce 2,400 megawatts of electricity and 1.02 million cubic meters of desalinated water when it is finished in 2013, Asharq Al-Awsat reported.

He expects that the initial cost for the project to be around $9 billion, the newspaper reported.


Christmas Giving Is ‘Orgy of Value Destruction,’ Waldfogel Says

(Bloomberg) -- Christmas is a waste of money because people who give presents overestimate how much recipients will enjoy their offerings, economist Joel Waldfogel said.

“The way we celebrate Christmas around the developed world is with an orgy of value destruction that vaporizes $25 billion per year,” he said in a lecture in London yesterday. “People value the items they receive as gifts 20 percent less per dollar spent than the items they purchase for themselves. These are items that are not well-suited for their tastes.”


Carbon Capitalists Warming to Climate Market Using Derivatives

(Bloomberg) -- Across Uganda, thousands of women warm supper over new, $8 orange-painted stoves. The clay-and- metal pots burn about two-thirds the charcoal of the open-fire cooking typical of East Africa, where forests are being chopped down in the struggle to feed the region’s 125 million people.

Four thousand miles away, at the Charles Hurst Land Rover dealership in southwest London, a Range Rover Vogue sells for 90,000 pounds ($151,000). A blue windshield sticker proclaims that the gasoline-powered truck’s first 45,000 miles (72,421 kilometers) will be carbon neutral.

That’s because Land Rover, official purveyor of 4x4s to Queen Elizabeth II, is helping Ugandans cut their greenhouse gas emissions with those new stoves.


United Nations to probe climate e-mail leak

LONDON – The United Nations will conduct its own investigation into e-mails leaked from a leading British climate science center in addition to the probe by the University of East Anglia, a senior U.N. climate official said Friday.


Penn State prof welcomes climate flap inquiry

Mann said he welcomed the inquiry.

"They are just reviewing the facts and (looking) into whether there is any validity to the specious claims, in my view, that are being made," he said in a phone interview Wednesday night. "That's exactly what they should be doing, and I am fully in support of that."


Climate email mess hits Australia

The Australian data comes in for particular criticism as the programmer discovers World Meteorological Organisation codes are missing, station names overlap and many co-ordinates are incorrect.

At one point the programmer writes about his attempts to make sense of the data. "What a bloody mess," he concludes. In another case, 30 years of data is attributed to a site at Cobar Airport but the frustrated programmer writes: "Now looking at the dates. something bad has happened ... COBAR AIRPORT AWS [automatic weather station] cannot start in 1962, it didn't open until 1993!"

In another he says: "Getting seriously fed up with the state of the Australian data ... so many false references ... so many changes ... bewildering."


Chill: A reassessment of the global warming theory

In his book Chill, natural scientist Peter Taylor, warns that the world is cooling and that solutions proposed at Copenhagen ignore the risks of starvation, resource depletion, threats to ecosystems and a possible return of the Ice Age.

Here he explains his thinking:

Like a magician who fools themselves but not audience, the Anthropomorphic Global Warming (AGW) lobby have identified the wrong problem and the wrong solution. Global cooling threatens disaster for humanity in the developed and developing world alike, yet the media & the scientific consensus ignores this peril.


Global-Warming Watchdogs to Emit CO2 Gas Equal to 200,000 Cars

(Bloomberg) -- The 17,000 people visiting Denmark for global talks on reducing greenhouse gases will release as much carbon dioxide during the two-week event as about 200,000 U.S. passenger cars do in the period.


Nepal holds Cabinet meeting at Mount Everest

SYANGBOCHE, Nepal - Nepal's top politicians strapped on oxygen tanks Friday and held a Cabinet meeting amid the frigid, thin air of Mount Everest to highlight the danger global warming poses to glaciers, ahead of next week's international climate change talks.

The government billed the stunt as the world's highest Cabinet meeting. The ministers posed for pictures, signed a commitment to tighten environmental regulations and expand the nation's protected areas, and then quickly flew away.


Rich / Poor Rift Dents Hopes For U.N. Climate Talks

OSLO (Reuters) - After two years of work, and 12 years after their last attempt, 190 nations gather in Copenhagen from Monday to try to avert dramatic climate change -- what one minister called "the most difficult talks ever embarked upon by humanity."

Already the sheer size of the measures needed, and splits between rich and poor about who should pay, mean that a historic U.N. pact to fight global warming and ease dependence on fossil fuels may be put off in favour of a less binding "declaration."


Warming rescue plan doomed, report warns

THE world has little chance of avoiding at least two degrees of global warming this century - the projected threshold for unpredictable and accelerated climate changes - if the emissions targets proposed by rich nations are locked in at next week's Copenhagen summit, an analysis has found.

A report by German-based consultants Climate Analytics says wealthy countries will arrive in Denmark with proposals that would lead to a joint cut in greenhouse gas emissions of between 13 and 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.


'Adapt or die' becomes mantra against warming

With the world losing the battle against global warming so far, experts are warning that humans need to follow nature's example: Adapt or die.

That means elevating buildings, making taller and stronger dams and seawalls, rerouting water systems, restricting certain developments, changing farming practices and ultimately moving people, plants and animals out of harm's way.

THE BLEEDING HAS STOPPED…ALMOST

All hail the arrival of zero! It’s been a long time coming—nearly two years. But better late than never.

Technically, nonfarm payrolls slipped last month by 11,000, the Labor Department reports. But in a labor force of nearly 131 million, that’s effectively no change if we consider the potential for statistical noise and the prospects for an upward revision down the line.

Two Ex-CBO Economists Say Past Medicare Cost-Saving Bills Have Worked

Two former Congressional Budget Office economists now at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal advocacy group, say past congressional efforts to restrain Medicare spending actually have been implemented – despite recent assertions to the controversy.

The analysis, by James Horney and Paul Van de Water, released today, concludes, “ Virtually all of the cuts that it enacted in 1990, 1993, and 2005 went into effect. After Medicare spending slowed dramatically after 1997 — in 1999, it was for the first time lower than it had been the year before — and the budget was balanced in 1998, Congress did ameliorate some of the Medicare cuts that it had enacted in 1997. But, even in those special circumstances, it allowed four-fifths of the 1997 cuts” — not counting 1997 reductions in Medicare payments to doctors — “to take effect.”

Some critics of pending health legislation say Congress tends to enact laws that promise savings in the future, but then alter them before the savings actually take effect. They say that could happen with some of the money-saving provisions included in legislation to increase government subsidies for health insurance for those who don’t currently have coverage.

“In arguing that Medicare cuts never “stick,” critics point in particular to Congress’ repeated refusal to let the reductions in physician reimbursement rates under Medicare’s so-called “sustainable growth rate” (SGR) mechanism, which it enacted in 1997, take full effect,” they say. “The SGR cuts, however, represented a badly designed measure that was not intended to produce large savings (the projected SGR savings represented less than five percent of total Medicare savings in the 1997 bill), but turned into a blunt instrument that would have produced cuts far in excess of what was anticipated and would have had harsh and indefensible effects.”

The analysis examines provisions in past deficit –reduction legislation that were designed to slow growth in Medicare spending, and whether Congress allowed them to take effect on schedule.

The Center for Budget Policy and Priorities is backing President Barack Obama’s efforts to get a health bill through Congress, and supports much of what is in the pending House and Senate bills.


US Payrolls rock!

The Nov Payrolls fell only 11k, much better than expectations of a fall of 125k and the prior two months were revised up by 159k. The household survey rose by 227k after a decline of 589k in Oct and combined with a drop in the labor force sent the unemployment rate down to 10% from 10.2%. The all in rate fell to 17.2% from 17.5%. Manufacturing jobs fell 4k less than expected. Temp jobs rose by 52k and are up for a 4th month and could be a good precursor to permanent hiring. Education/health and the federal government added jobs. Most other groups shed jobs. Average hourly earnings rose .1%, .1% less than estimated. The average work week rose to 33.2 hours from 33.0. The average duration of unemployment did rise to 28.5 weeks from 26.9, a fresh record high. The B/D model added 30k vs 19k last yr. Bottom line, the data is a clear positive but doesn’t square with other info but let’s enjoy it for today. The stock market reaction today will be interesting because the US$ is rallying and the 10 yr bond yield is nearing 3.5% again.


Del Monte delivers a good second quarter

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Del Monte (DLM) had a fine second quarter. Net sales went up by over 6%. Earnings per share more than doubled to 31 cents. Analysts were expecting only 21 cents of per-share profit, according to Earnings.com.

Management seems to be striking a proper balance between pricing strategies and the need for volume growth. That's a tough thing to do, and it can't always be done, but Del Monte is obviously utilizing its brand equity to full advantage. Smart marketing campaigns have helped to highlight the company's trademarks and communicate product value.

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Del Monte delivers a good second quarter originally appeared on BloggingStocks on Fri, 04 Dec 2009 09:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Janney Montgomery Scott Hires Blackwood

Janney Montgomery Scott, an investment bank and financial services firm, hired of Peter A. Blackwood as Managing Director in the Technology & Services Investment Banking Group. Prior to joining Janney, he served as Principal and Head of the Internet & Digital Media Group at Merriman Curhan Ford & Co. where he was responsible for the origination and execution of public equity, private equity and M&A advisory transactions.

Press release:

Janney Montgomery Scott (”Janney”), a leading full-service investment banking and financial services firm, is pleased to announce the hiring of Peter A. Blackwood as Managing Director in the Technology & Services Investment Banking Group.

As part of Janney’s Technology & Services Group, Mr. Blackwood will have responsibility for the firm’s eCommerce and Internet & Digital Media practices, focusing on consumer internet, interactive content, media and advertising as well as enabling technologies. Throughout his career, Mr. Blackwood has advised clients on a range of corporate finance needs including public offerings, private placements, and strategic M&A advisory.

Andrew Schmucker, the firm’s Head of Investment Banking, stated, “Janney continues to demonstrate its commitment towards the growth of our core industry verticals with the addition of Peter. He brings with him a wealth of capital markets and advisory experience, as well as extensive knowledge of the technology sector that will add depth and expertise to our Technology & Services Group. We are excited to have him join our growing team.”

Mr. Blackwood will work from Janney’s San Francisco offices before relocating to Janney’s Philadelphia headquarters. Mr. Blackwood can be reached by email at pblackwood@janney.com.

About Mr. Blackwood:

Mr. Blackwood has more than 10 years of investment banking experience. Prior to joining Janney, he served as Principal and Head of the Internet & Digital Media Group at Merriman Curhan Ford & Co. where he was responsible for the origination and execution of public equity, private equity and M&A advisory transactions. Prior to joining Merriman, Mr. Blackwood was with SoundView Technology Group, a technology-focused investment bank, where he focused on corporate finance needs of the firm’s enterprise software and storage clients. Prior to SoundView, he was one of the founding corporate finance team members of E*OFFERING, a start-up investment bank focused on leveraging the Internet as a distribution medium for the capital markets which was subsequently acquired by SoundView. Mr. Blackwood received his B.A. in Political Science from Ohio Wesleyan University.

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