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Opening Bell: 1.30.07

And the winner at British Airways is....Willy Walsh (Flight International)
After weeks of tension, the strike threat at Biritsh Airways has been defused, and the company's CEO deserves the credit. The coup de grace came when the CEO publicly pointed out that the average unionized BA worker took 22 days of sick leave per year, far more than the average British worker. This not only made them look weak and sickly, it helped them lose face in the court of public opinion. And of course it made everyone question why they were thinking about striking.
Rumors Fly About Bristol, Lifting Stock (NYT)
It's not clear, exactly, where this one stands, but there's a lot of speculation about a possible merger between Bristol-Myers and Sanofi. While there are plenty of rumors flying around, the companies have offered nothing but an official denial, which they'd have to issue whether they were talking or not, so take that with a grain of salt. Given the intensity of the rumors, and yesterday's trading, a deal will probably happen soon, if indeed one is being talked about at all.
Stock Frenzy In China Stokes Official Concern (WSJ)
Several months ago, then Treasury Secretary Snow went to China and told anyone who would listen that the Chinese people had to embrace the concept of household debt. Take out a few credit cards, he exclaimed, and while you're at it, buy a few American-made goods, just to help balance out the trade deficit. Well, the Chinese seem to be getting the whole debt thing, but they're not buying American Apparel t-shirts. Instead they're snapping up stock in the Chinese market, helping to fuel a rally, but also helping to make the whole thing look like a house of cards that will come tumbling down at the first mention of wind. So they're taking out second mortgages, setting up online trading accounts and maxing out the AmEx to play their hand at what looks to be a hot deck. Thanks a lot John Snow!
JetBlue Posts $17 Million Profit on Passenger Gain (Bloomberg)
About a year or so ago, jetBlue, once the highflying wunderkind of the airline industry started having some problems, and it warned that it's rapid growth ambitions were hurting its profitability. This was exactly at the same time most other domestic airlines started pulling their noses up and returning to profitability. Now, after slowing its expansion and intake of new jets, the company is seeing good times again. Today it reported profits that were just a hair shy of analyst estimates, with sales growth at an impressive 42%.

McDonald's says new oil passes taste test (AP)
After keeping the fast food-eating world on edge for the past few months, McDonald's decided to tease their customers a little longer, announcing that it had finally picked a suitable, trans fat-free oil for its fries. Public sentiment has swung hard against partially hydrogenated oils in recent months, and it's clear that it's only a matter of time before they're banned in so many places around the country that it doesn't make sense to use them at all. So what do you think it will be? Peanut oil? Palm oil? Can we get a Tradesports contract on this one?
After 8 Hours on the Taxiway, You Might Want a Bill of Rights (NYT)
Does anyone else think that the actual Bill of Rights, you know, the 10 amendments to the constitution (yeah, that one) have been sullied a bit by the proliferation of bills of rights regarding every little thing in society. There's parents' bills of rights, healthcare ones, and there's probably one for broadband purchasers (" have the right to a download speed within 10% of that which is advertised in the commercial"). Now they want one for airline passengers, something you'll be in favor if you were among the %.001 of fliers who had a harrowing experience this holiday season, suck on the tarmac with an overflowing lav. Passengers on one particular flight are gearing up to lobby congress for such a bill -- while they're up their, we hope they pass a law banning flight delays. Why not?
NASD Fines Bank of America $3 Million (Dealbook)
The NASD has fined Bank of America $3 million for failing to take proper anti-money laundering procedures with respect to a single account. Seriously, what's the point of a fine like this. $3 million, what's that going to do. At least it's not the government fining them, since the $3 million will probably just get lost behind some shelf. The NASD, on the other hand, will probably find something to do with that money.
Bush Directive Increases Sway on Regulation (NYT)
Warning, cheap shot alert, coming right up. The Times reports that President Bush, last week, signed an executive order giving him more control at government agencies with respect to carrying out the law and implementing regulation in a wide variety of errors. It makes sense that after losing the congress, he'd like to consolidate as much power as he can in the office. Meanwhile, in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez has also taken some fresh steps to consolidate power, as the Congress is soon expected to pass a law that will give the president the ability to change the laws of Venezuela with a Presidential decree. Oh, and if you think we're insinuating some sort of similarity between Bush and Chavez, that's not the case at all. Though they're both oilmen, in a sense.