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Opening Bell: 7.31.07

ADM fiscal 4Q profit increases (Thomson Financial)
Food purveyor to the world, ADM, saw its profits rise in its most recent quarter, although that was mainly due to the disposal of certain assets. Surprisingly, the company's operating profits actually dipped, in part due to the rise in corn prices. Seems strange -- wasn't ADM supposed to benefit from higher grain prices. Isn't the spike in corn prices due to ethanol, a big area for ADM? Either way, the company says that prices are already coming down (which is good news for just about every other company in the world) and that earnings will normalize.
Murdoch Awaits Decision on His Dow Offer (NYT)
There was a moment yesterday when we honestly believed that we'd get some sort of definitive answer to the whole Dow Jones mess. How naive. This thing probably isn't going away anytime soon. At one point, it looked like the deal really might not happen, at least based on some murmurings coming out of the Murdoch camp, which, in retrospect, was probably just more posturing. Then, later into the evening there was talk about more negotiations and nailing down some fine points -- quite positive. Either way, we didn't get we wanted, which was resolution. Hopefully we'll have something more definitive today.
Russian Oil Magnate Forced to Sell to Putin Loyalist, He Says (NYT)
Vladimir Putin, the world's most important energy executive, continues to tighten his grip on the market. The owner of Russneft (Not to be confused with Rosneft), will be forced to sell out to Putin loyalists, AKA Putin. In a sense, we're not sad to see the Russian oligarchs' power dismantled... but oligopoly is probably preferable to monopoly, which is what the Russian energy market is turning into.
Europe, Asia Stocks Rise, U.S. Futures Advance; Aviva, UBS Gain (Bloomberg)
Remember all of those fears about subprime mortgages dragging down the markets? Yeah, neither do we. That was last week's news. This week it's all about how the subprime fears were overblown and not really a threat to the broader economy. Both Europe and Asia have shrugged it all off, gaining over night, while the US futures are pointing upward, at least for now.

Bush Scales Back Agenda to Schools, Trade, Energy as Clout Ebbs (Bloomberg)
As Bush's tenure draws to a close and his approval ratings remain mired in the sewer, his political influence is seen as being on the decline. That makes sense. As such, if he wants to win any battles, they'll probably just be small ones. So yeah, don't expect social security privatization to happen any time soon.
Lefties are Turning on Ethanol (Mahalanobis)
Eric Falkenstein notes that a number of left wingers are turning on ethanol, as they realize that it's not the panacea it was thought to be. To be completely fair, we never really associated with ethanol with the left more than the right, and by "the right", we mean the people who occupy that part of the political spectrum, not necessarily the ideology of being right wing. Heck, even John McCain supports ethanol subsidies now, which is indicative of just how pervasive its become. Still, nice to see a backlash in any quarters you can.
Great Moments in Punditry: Jim Cramer on Housing (Market Movers)
So, like, Jim Cramer is reaaaaly bearish on housing. Like, really. To Cramer's credit, he's not a permabear, like some. To his detriment, his bold statements rarely come before the market has already started moving in that direction.