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Peabody Energy and ArcelorMittal are joining forces to make a bid for an Australian coal producer.

By Jim J. Jubak Jul 12, 2011 10:17PM
Jim JubakThe big boys are back.

A little more than a year after MacArthur Coal (MACDY) rejected a A$15.00 a share bid from Peabody Energy (BTU), and three years after the company ended acquisition talks with ArcelorMittal (MT), the biggest U.S. coal company and the world’s largest steelmaker have teamed up on a A$15.50 bid for the Australian coal producer.

Thanks to a stronger Australian dollar, this year’s bid is worth about US$16.59 a share, compared to the May 2010 bid's value of US$13.47. That’s 23% higher.

The price was about 40% above the stock's closing price on the Sydney market yesterday, before the bid was announced. Shares were up a little more than 27% in New York trading. Today, the Sydney shares are playing catch
up and have climbed 37%.
 

The company's newest social-networking service is gaining users at such a clip that some observers are now talking 100 million.

By Kim Peterson Jul 12, 2011 3:15PM
It seems hardly possible that Google's (GOOG) newest attempt to kill Facebook, called Google+, has already hit 10 million users.

But that's what one fairly credible source is saying. If that's true, then Google+ is quickly turning from a Web oddity into something that could truly give Facebook a run for its money.

Paul Allen, the founder of Ancestry.com, says in a blog post that the number of Google+ users hit 7.3 million on July 10 and 9.5 million on July 11. With that rate of growth, it's easy to assume that the service will hit 10 million on Tuesday and perhaps 20 million by the weekend. (He explains his methodology here.) 

Rattled investors, worried about Europe and the U.S. debt ceiling, turn back to precious metals.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Jul 12, 2011 3:05PM

Stocks snapped their recent uptrend in a big way this week on another bout of panic selling. The eurozone debt crisis -- which seemed ready to cool after Greek politicians approved a tough new austerity package late last month-- is once again at full boil. As a result, people sold early and sold often.

 

Significant price damage was done as stocks dropped away from what looks to be a potential triple-top pattern on the Nasdaq 100 or a head-and-shoulders reversal pattern on the S&P 500 and NYSE Composite indices. No matter what index you prefer, or which technical pattern you're looking at, the message was clear: The bears were dug in at a key level, and the bulls failed to break through.

 

Now, the counterattack is on. The average investor, which watched stocks get whacked over the last few months and Treasury bonds get whacked over the last few weeks, are stampeding into the last safe haven: Gold and silver.

 

The company will now offer a DVD-only plan with no streaming video access. It didn't anticipate that demand, it says.

By Kim Peterson Jul 12, 2011 2:27PM
Netflix (NFLX) customers will now have to pay at least $16 a month to get DVDs by mail plus streaming video -- up from the previous minimum of $10.

The company announced Tuesday what amounts to a price increase for customers who want unlimited streaming plus one by-mail DVD rental at a time. Previously, it cost $10 a month for that plan.

Now, Netflix is splitting that plan into two parts: Unlimited streaming for $8 a month, and unlimited DVDs (one at a time by mail) for $8 a month. You can subscribe to both, but you'll have to pay $16 a month with no bundling discount. Netflix shares were up more than 1% Tuesday to $295.55 in midday trading.

The following video news report has more details. Post continues after video: 

The social network's alliance with Spotify will turn up the heat on the Internet radio service.

By InvestorPlace Jul 12, 2011 1:26PM

Image: Guitar (© Corbis)By Tom Taulli, InvestorPlace.com


InvestorplaceFacebook is an entertainment destination, with a massive global audience (the latest count: 750 million users).


While it has had much success allowing people to communicate, it looks like the company is gearing up for the next step: adding premium movies and music. Move over, Rupert Murdoch, and get ready for the next media network.


As should be no surprise, Facebook has big ambitions. Keep in mind that the company recently named Netflix (NFLX) CEO Reed Hasting to its board.


But the company's first move into the media business may be music. Blogger Jeff Rose found that some of the code for the company's new video chat system has hooks to music downloading. Some of the keywords include "MusicDownload" and "vibes."

 

The automaker has endorsed a bill that would prohibit all US motorists from using handheld phones while driving.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 12, 2011 12:36PM

Image: Driver on cellphone (© BananaStock/Jupiterimages)By Ted Reed, TheStreet

 

Ford (F) has become the first U.S. automaker to back a nationwide ban on the use of handheld cellphones by drivers.

 

Ford is endorsing a proposal by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D., N.Y.) for national legislation. While most states have imposed limitations on cellphone use by drivers, the federal government has not acted.

 

"Ford endorses Rep. McCarthy's legislation because it represents a practical, commonsense approach to a national problem," said Pete Lawson, Ford's vice president of government affairs. "Distracted driving is an important issue, and that's why Ford became the first automaker to support proposed legislation banning handheld texting while driving in 2009 and why we are proud to support Rep. McCarthy's legislation that will ban using handheld devices while driving."

 

One analyst sees hope for the BlackBerry maker if it were to divide into separate businesses for network and devices.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 12, 2011 12:10PM

By Scott Moritz, TheStreet

 

Management seems clueless, insiders are losing hope, and now analysts are calling for a split of Research In Motion (RIMM).

 

RBC analyst Mike Abramsky is the most recent RIM watcher to call for action. Abramsky, a die-hard RIM supporter, urged the company in a research note Tuesday to split into two businesses: network and devices.

 

"Acting now may target opportunities and unlock significant shareholder value," Abramsky wrote.

 

The restructuring call comes as RIM's stock continues its free fall this year, down 52% since January, while rivals Google (GOOG) and Apple (AAPL) continue to sweep up BlackBerry market share.

 

The company's franchising strategy and expansion opportunities will make it a worthwhile investment after it goes public.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 12, 2011 11:07AM

By Jake Lynch, TheStreet

 

Dunkin' Brands (DNKN), the owner of the doughnut-and-coffee chain and ice-cream purveyor Baskin-Robbins, is set to go public. Millions of people in the Northeast can't get enough of Dunkin' Donuts coffee. So how will its stock fare?

 

First, the basics: The company, co-owned by private-equity investors Bain Capital, Carlyle Group and Thomas Lee, is seeking to sell more than 22 million common shares for between $16 and $18 a share for net proceeds of up to $400 million. Dunkin' amended its S-1, an initial public offering request form to the Securities and Exchange Commission, on Monday. In it, Dunkin' indicated that it would have 126 million total common shares after the share sale.

 

That translates to a market value of more than $2 billion. Even after the IPO, the private-equity owners will retain more than half of the outstanding stock. Its profit stream is likely to enrich Bain, Carlyle and Lee for years to come.

 

The US stock correction is now under way, and global markets, gold and the dollar are on the move. Where are the next buying opportunities?

By MoneyShow.com Jul 12, 2011 10:43AM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

It has been a rough start to the week and selling early Tuesday has been heavy overseas. 

The E-mini S&P 500 futures plunged below 1300 in early trading, but a couple hours before the market open, they were trading well above the early lows. A correction was expected last week, however, and the key levels are still holding.

Gold surged to new highs in euro, as the spreading fears about Italy’s debt crisis hit the single currency hard. Clearly, skittish investors are once again jumping out of riskier assets.

Interestingly, the dollar was also higher on the day, but it is still locked in its trading range. Rates also dropped again, and the low-yielding Treasury market is seen as a safe haven.

The apparent impasse over the debt ceiling is also starting to weigh heavily on the markets. It is too bad that most of our representatives failed to take Econ 101, as many apparently are not worried about the real consequences of a debt default.  Hopefully, both sides will come to their senses soon; otherwise, the Treasury market is unlikely to be a safe haven.

Technically, the decline in the stock market has not done any lasting damage, but the strength of the first rebound will be informative. The emerging markets, as well as gold and the dollar, will need to be watched closely as the week progresses.
 
Tags: etfgold

The bond guru will be more transparent, but investors hoping to use his fund as a blueprint will be out of luck.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 12, 2011 10:35AM

By Frank Byrt, TheStreet

 

Followers of bond fund maven Bill Gross of Pimco will be able to get a gander at his trading strategy once the firm launches its first exchange-traded fund later this year. But that doesn't mean investors can replicate Gross' big wins on their own.

 

That's because of a regulatory wrinkle that will preclude do-it-yourselfers from matching his moves trade for trade, at least for now.

 

Gross has built a reputation as a brilliant manager of the world's largest mutual fund, the $253 billion Pimco Total Return Fund (PTTAX), which has a five-year average annual return of 8.5%, more than twice that of the S&P 500 Index.

 

We're better off than we were 3 years ago, though it may not feel like it.

By Jim Cramer Jul 12, 2011 9:12AM

the streetjim cramerDidn't know we now face another Armageddon. In fact, a couple of Armageddons. The debt-ceiling Armageddon. The Italian Armageddon. The Chinese inflation Armageddon.

 

Jeez, these Armageddons seem like a dime a dozen. And that's the real problem: Armageddons aren't sold a dozen by the dime. They are sold very rarely. We should know it -- we lived through one just a couple short years ago.

 

Here's the problem, though. We have learned the wrong lesson. We have learned that every single crisis is the paramount crisis. That every single woe is the death rattle. That the sky not only falls but falls hard and takes all of us chickens with it.

 

Here's what we should have learned. You can almost blow up the western financial world. You can almost nationalize every single bank. You can almost destroy capitalism. We almost did. We can scorn Bernanke and Geithner and criticize them for 9% unemployment. But I think we should have and could have had 25% unemployment. I think we could have had a depression.

 

Italy is the world's third-biggest debtor after the US and Japan. That fact, along with the country's deficit, makes many bondholders nervous.

By Jim J. Jubak Jul 11, 2011 5:29PM
Jim Jubak"If I fall, then Italy falls. If Italy falls, then so falls the euro. It is a chain," Italian finance minister Giulio Tremonti said over the weekend.

The grandiosity of Tremonti’s rhetoric aside, global financial markets bought into his logic Monday. The French CAC stock index closed down 2.7%, the German DAX index was down 2.33%, and the euro was down 1.74%, to $1.4016.

Yields on Italy's 10-year bonds were at 5.68%, a nine-year high. That puts Italy perilously close to the 7% threshold that triggered bailout rescue requests from Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

Why is Italy in crisis  now? And why is what happens with Italy so important to the euro?

Italy makes so many bondholders nervous because it is the world's third-biggest debtor after the U.S. and Japan, with $2.6 trillion in government bonds outstanding. The country will run a budget deficit again this year that will push debt to 120% of GDP.
 

The upscale grocer appeals to niche consumers who are well on their way to economic revival. Goldman Sachs has added the stock to its list of picks.

By Kim Peterson Jul 11, 2011 2:50PM

Image: Groceries (© Tetra Images/Corbis)As the recession lingers, a grocer nicknamed "Whole Paycheck" shouldn't be doing well. But Whole Foods Market (WFMI) is on fire, with shares up an astonishing 70% in the past year.

And now Goldman Sachs (GS) has added the stock to its Conviction List. Analyst Stephen Grambling thinks sales and profits will come in better than management has forecast for 2011.

Those beats will come in as the chain expands, Grambling says. He set a $76 target on the stock, which is about 18% higher than Monday's price.

So why is Whole Foods doing so well in this time of high unemployment and economic turmoil? The grocer is capitalizing on a growing divide in this country between the well-to-do and the middle- to low-income households. Wal-Mart (WMT) shoppers are still living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to make ends meet and shopping at dollar stores when they can.

 

Even dollar-store customers are staying away from unnecessary items, and the slowdown in showing in company earnings.

By Kim Peterson Jul 11, 2011 1:58PM
Image: Cash register (© Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Getty Images)A significant shift is taking place with American shoppers: The urge to splurge is ending.

This became evident at Target (TGT) and Wal-Mart (WMT) in the recession as those stores saw customers pass up furniture and sporting goods in favor of basic must-haves like toilet paper and cereal.

Now even dollar stores are seeing the end of the splurge. Sales and profits aren't growing as fast anymore, The Wall Street Journal reports. Shoppers are no longer buying even the cheap toys and home decorative items.

With high gas prices and high unemployment on their minds, shoppers are sticking to food, cleaning supplies and other necessities. Those products have lower margins, and as a result, investors are seeing missed quarterly earnings from Dollar General (DG), Family Dollar Stores (FDO) and Dollar Tree (DLTR).  

The search giant's answer to Facebook is gaining users quickly.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 11, 2011 1:47PM

By Scott Moritz, TheStreet

 

Google's (GOOG) social-networking site Google+ is possibly the best office-time distraction since, well, Facebook.

 

Ripples of invites launched during the Google+ field trials have built rapidly expanding waves of sign-ups across the broader online population. In other words, everybody's doing it -- or will be soon.

 

Blogger Paul Allen estimates the number Google+ users, as of Sunday, has nearly tripled to 4.7 million from 1.7 at the beginning of last week. Allen expects to update his estimate Monday.

 

But so what? Google has a product that could be as big as Gmail. Does that mean success on any level other than popularity in the blogosphere?

 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished the Wednesday session on an upbeat note with the Nasdaq (+1.3%) ending in the lead. The S&P 500 settled higher by 1.1% with all ten sectors posting gains.

The benchmark index spent the entire trading day in the green, rallying to new highs during the last hour of action. The tech-heavy Nasdaq, meanwhile, briefly dipped into the red during morning action, but was able to recover swiftly.

Stocks began the trading day with modest gains ... More


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