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Opening Bell: 7.27.07

Oil drops as U.S. stock market fall clips rally (Reuters)
Time to start looking for silver linings after yesterday's market crash drop. Here's one: the price of crude oil fell, as traders worried that a sinking economy would depress demand for the brown stuff. Of course, this will hurt major US energy companies, which have carried the markets on their back, so many investors wouldn't be happy with a long-term decline, but at least summer driving season (which is coming to an end) might be more tolerable. Another bright spot: Can you say intersession rate cut?
Nikkei ends at 3-mth low on Wall Street, election (Reuters)
The Nikkei took its cues from the Dow over night and decided to plunge right along with it. Stocks ended at a three-month low , with some blue chips losing more than 5%. The stronger yen, which is freaking everyone out on both sides of the Pacific, didn't help things.
Is Landry's in trouble? (Houston's Clear Thinkers)
It probably won't come up as a top story on your Bloomberg, but seafood chain Landry's is the latest company to feel the credit pinch. S&P has lowered its ratings on the company, just as it looks for new financing to replace some expiring notes.
Apparel Maker VF Acquires Jeans and Activewear Brands (NYT)
Do people still wear Seven for all Mankind jeans? We know they were really big during the bubble (the designer denim bubble, that is), but the only time we hear about them now is when we're walking through Soho and someone has a table set up on the sidewalk where they're selling them (or knockoffs; we're never quite sure) at a discount. Either way, the company's been acquired by VF Corp, which must be a nice exit for the seven-years young firm.

AMD says EU antitrust charges vs Intel will spark opening of chip market (AFX)
Here's a riddle: If you're a loser in your market and you haven't been able to get US regulators to pursue antitrust actions against your rival, what do you do? Yeah, too easy. You go to Europe and talk to Neelie Kroes. That seems to be the strategy that AMD has taken, having failed to make waves with its claims that Intel is a monopolist. But in Europe, naturally, it's a different story, and AMD is optimistic that the EU's interest in the case will spark a transformation of the IT market. That's sort of all you need to know about AMD.
Wells Fargo Shuts Brokered Subprime Unit (Forbes)
We're really unimpressed with these companies that decide to get out of the subprime game now. Granted, things are looking pretty ugly -- that we can understand. But nobody wins by following the flock. Where are the companies looking to seriously expand their supbrime capabilities. Then again, if the carnage we're seeing is only the beginning, then maybe it's just too early for that. By the way: did anyone happen to catch Kudlow yesterday? We missed him, but we'd love to know what he said about the drop. Knowing him, he probably blamed it on the recent Democratic debate and fears that a Democratic President would withdraw us from Iraq.
But Buyer Psychology Is Part Of Market Value (Matrix)
The National Association of Retailers pretty much has no credibility among serious observers of the housing market, but mainstream news sources will still quote them as if they're a legitimate research group, so they're fun to poke around. The latest quote from the group's chief economist is that houses still represent a good value for purchasers, but that buyer psychology is messing things up. Jonathan Miller deconstructs this argument pretty soundly, pointing out you can't separate the concepts of psychology and value and that all value is, in a sense, perceived value. If people don't see it, or if people don't think it'll be there tomorrow, then it's not there.
Goldman Bets Hedge Money of Its Own (NYT)
To be honest, we're a little unsure of where the "there" there is in this story. So a tio Goldman Sachs trader is moving to the bank's asset management division to start a hedge fund, where he will invest Goldman's own money along with clients' money. But this isn't anything particularly novel for Goldman (and its ilk). It already has hedge funds. Maybe it's the lateral move of the trader that's the story, although that hardly seems like a huge deal. Maybe the story is that hedge funds aren't dead.