Shares rise as the smart-phone maker taps a former Apple executive to lead the company.

By Charley Blaine Jun 11, 2009 1:28PM

It's been a busy few days for Palm (PALM, news, msgs).

 

The company, which debuted its new Pre phone last weekend, named former Apple (AAPL, news, msgs) executive Jon Rubenstein as its new chief executive officer late Wednesday.

 

Rubenstein had been Apple's senior vice president in charge of its iPod division.

 

A combine of their long-distance businesses could help them compete against AT&T and Verizon.

By Charley Blaine Jun 11, 2009 1:23PM

Sprint Nextel (S) and Level 3 Communications (LVLT) are considering a joint venture for their long distance businesses, The Wall Street Journal reported late Wednesday.

The telecommunications companies together would be a stronger competitor to rivals AT&T (T) and Verizon Communications (VZ) , the report said, but a deal is not set just yet.

 

The Dow falls just 24 points after slumping as much as 123. Traders see rising rates as a recovery threat. Crude tops $71.

By Charley Blaine Jun 10, 2009 9:02PM

Charley BlaineWhat was looking like a rout for stocks turned into merely a crummy day.

 

The Dow Jones industrials ($INDU), once down as many as 123 points in the early afternoon, finished down just 24 points, or 0.6%, to 8,739.

 

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) was off 3 points, 0.6%, to 939, and the Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) fell 7 points, or 0.4%, to 1,853.

 

The problem for the market was the growing worry about inflation, interest rates and the price of oil and gasoline.

 

An auction of 10-year Treasury notes produced a yield of 3.99%, the highest since an auction in August. A May auction produced a yield of 3.19%. Meanwhile, crude oil topped $71 a barrel. Traders saw both developments as serious threats to a recovery.

 

But the Federal Reserve's Beige Book report, released this afternoon, suggested that talk about a recovery may be premature. Indeed, it even said that demand for commodities and natural resources -- in the United States, anyway -- was weak.

 

But the report noted that in five districts the downward trend appears to be moderating.

 

And so the panic seemed quelled.

 

Indeed, futures trading suggests the market may open higher on Thursday.

 

Energy prices -- New York close
  Wed. Tues. Month chg. YTD chg.
Crude oil  $71.33 $70.01 7.57% 59.93%
(per barrel)
Heating oil $1.8326 $1.8076 11.95% 30.37%
(per gallon)
Natural gas  $3.7080 $3.7310 -4.21% -34.04%
(per mil. BTY)
Unleaded gasoline $2.0153 $1.9667 4.73% 99.89%
(per gallon)

 

The market opened higher, in part because traders liked that the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of Chrysler's sale to Fiat (FIATY). Plus Home Depot (HD) boosted its profit guidance.

 

But the rate jitters sapped any strength, and, despite the reocvery near the close, the market did  not have much of a day. In fact, it now appears stalled.

 

The S&P 500's closing peak since the rally erupted on March 9 was 944.74 on June 2. The Nasdaq peaked at 1,860 on Tuesday.

 

The Dow's peak was 8,764.49 on Monday.  And while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are both higher on the year after the awful beating into March, the Dow remains just below its 2008 close of 8,776.39.

 

Only 10 of the 30 Dow stocks were higher on the day, led by Alcoa (AA, news, msgs), up 3.1%, to $11.49; Microsoft (MSFT, news, msgs), up 2.1% to $22.55; and Exxon Mobil (XOM, news, msgs), up 1% to $73.84. (Microsoft is the publisher of MSN Money.)

 

Just 177 S&P 500 stocks and 36 Nasdaq-100 ($NDX.X) stocks had gains today. The Nasdaq-100 closed down 6 points, 0.4%, to 1,495. It had been down nearly 28 points at 1:45 p.m.

 

The yield jump to 3.99% raised worries about inflation and whether Russia will dump its holdings of Treasury bills.

By Charley Blaine Jun 10, 2009 8:16PM

The yield on the 10-year Treasury continued to trade at the highest level in seven months today after the government announced that its $19 billion auction of 10-year notes produced a 3.99% yield.

 

Bidders offered 2.62 times the amount of debt being sold, higher than the recent average of 2.40. Indirect bidders, a class of investors that includes foreign central banks, bought 34.3% of the sale.

 

The high yield on the auction unnerved many traders, which was why the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) was down as many as 123 points this afternoon. The loss was trimmed to just 24 points at the close. 

 

A decline in domestic supplies and hopes for an economic recovery pushes oil higher.

By Charley Blaine Jun 10, 2009 8:06PM

Charley BlaineCrude oil jumped to $71.33 today, up 1.9% from Tuesday and part of that big continuing rally this year.

 

Crude's $70.01 close on Tuesday was its first since Nov. 4.

 

Oil has risen more than 57% this year, with a big jump recently, partly because speculators think that the global economy is starting to recover, which in turn, could boost demand for oil.

 

The national price hits $2.627 a gallon. It's been rising for 42 days in a row.

By Charley Blaine Jun 10, 2009 6:45PM

The average price of regular gasoline rose to $2.627 today from $2.622 Tuesday, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge report. Gasoline prices have risen for 42 days in a row, gaining 28.2% in the process.

 

Today's price, however, was down more than 36% from its record price of $4.114 a gallon set on July 17, 2008.

 

But the home improvement retailer still sees a challenging environment.

By Charley Blaine Jun 10, 2009 6:41PM

Home Depot (HD, news, msgs) has been hit hard by the slumping housing market, but the home-improvement retailer raised its full-year guidance this morning.

 

The company expects full-year profit to be flat to down 7% for the year, with adjusted profit down 20% to 26%, thanks to its belief that "a correction in the home improvement market" is coming.
 

The Supreme Court's decision late Tuesday allows the deal to go through.

By Charley Blaine Jun 10, 2009 6:36PM
Chrysler and Italian automaker Fiat (FIATY, news, msgs) finalized their global alliance this morning after the Supreme Court decided late Tuesday not to hear an appeal from several Indiana pension funds and consumer groups.

 

The high court said it wasn't ruling directly on the merits of the case but instead was using a traditional three-factor test to decide whether a stay was warranted. The Supreme Court ruled that the challengers did not meet their burden.

 

The Obama administration, which had been pushing the deal in order to get Chrysler in and out of bankruptcy quickly, applauded the decision.

 

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