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Opening Bell: 6.26.07

Murdoch’s Dealings in China: It’s Business, and It’s Personal (NYT)
So, yeah, the Times' hit piece on Rupert Murdoch has been pretty lame. It must've been frustrating for the reporters to go in with such a juicy target in their sites only to conclude that he's, well, just an aggressive businessman. We had some higher hopes for Pt. II, cause ostensibly it's all about Murdoch's Asian fetish. But even there, the whole thing falls a little flat. He has a Chinese Wife. What, are you a racist or something? Who cares? And did we actually need reporters to tell us that? And he really wants to make money in China. Slam! Totally burned.
Lennar Swings to Quarterly Loss, Sees Continued Market Weakness (WSJ)
There's no end in sight just yet to the woes of the homebuilders. Everything having to do with homes, from homeowners, to Home Depot, to mortgage-backed securities are running into trouble these days. But nobody's taking it on the chin quite like the builder. It's got to be particularly tough, seeing as they were such high flyers for some 15 years. Lennar announced that it's plunged into the red and that it sees a continued bloodbath ahead. Still, the company did beat revenue estimates, just slightly, so they have a little something to hang their hat on.
Private Equity Investors Hint at Cool Down (NYT)
After shooting up, Blackstone has already had a rough time of it on the public markets and stories like this one aren't helping. There continues to be a stream of statistical and anecdotal evidence that the good times for private equity aren't looking to continue. That's not to say that private equity firms won't make tons of money going forward. They very well might. But, there are a number of headwinds, such as higher stock prices and excess liquidity, that these firms will have to overcome.
Fleeing Chávez, Oil Workers Flock To Frigid Alberta (WSJ)
This story could be titled: More Evidence of the Deterioration of Venezuela Pt. 32492432. Apparently, a number of oil workers, particularly engineering types, have decided to leave Venezeula and head for the rough lifestyle of the Canadian oil sands, in Alberta. By all accounts, the conditions are terrible up there. Totally cold and miserable and unlike anything in warm Venezuela. Even the oil itself sucks, since it's mixed with sand and other non-oil elements that cost a fortune to remove. So the fact that folks are heading up to the great white north says something about how bad things have become back home. Undoubtedly, Chavez still believes that the industry can just be run by "the people" as long as it's only goal is to serve the people, but we're guessing it won't be so easy. Meanwhile, these expats flocking to Canada must be turning their money into Canadian dollars, which only pushes up that currency's value, bringing it closer to US dollar parity. Hopefully they're sending back remittances and thus reconverting.

Summer Flying Turns Ugly (WSJ)
We get it, flying sucks these days. There's lots of cancellations and delays, and half the time that your flight does take off, you're going to be sitting on the tarmac for 8 hours, while a skeleton of a crew makes jokes about all of the overtime that they're going to get. And get this, it's not getting any better. There are shortages of every scarce resource you can think of, from gates to crew to affordable jet fuel. So, have a fun summer of business travel.
The Forces of Neatness Hope to Fill a Niche (NYT)
The Times declares that magazines aren't dead, and points to a new one called, get this, "Organize" as evidence that niche publications continue to pop up, even in the blog era. A quick glance at the cover would suggest that Organize is sort of like Make and Craft -- which have been described as Martha Stewart Living for hipsters. While those focus on building stuff, Organize may be the print equivalent of the Container Store. The broader point is that there are still tons of magazines. Go into any Barnes & Noble and be amazed. Then go into the St. Marks' book shop, and find more $9 fashion and culture magazines than you could ever imagine. Do any of them actually make money? We'd love to know.
European Stocks Decline, Paced by BNP Paribas, Allianz, BAE (Bloomberg)
The world markets have been slumming it up now for a few days or so. US, European and Chinese indexes have all had a rocky time. Probably too early to call it a flu (as so many often do), and there's no evidence yet of contagion. After all, each market has its own issues going on. The US has the whole subprime thing to worry about. Europe has interest rates, while China has, well China to ponder. When things really start slammin' on the downside in unison, then we can say something communicable is going around.
Chinese tires face recall (Reuters)
Not a day seems to go by without some story of a Chinese product recall. The latest one is tires. Not sure there's much more to add here. If you're driving around in a light truck, might want to make sure that your tires aren't the ones being recalled.