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Opening Bell: 11.26.07

BHP Bid for Rio Tinto Loses Confidence of Investors (Bloomberg)
It may not be totally DOA yet, but signs are pointing against BHP's play for Rio Tinto, which is too bad. BHP has already lost a cool $32 billion in market value since the plan was originally announced, and you have to figure it'd lose more if the deal were actually accepted, which they're a long way away from. Rio has made pretty clear that it has no interesting in a sale. Just a thought: if the deal did go through, would it be the AOL/TWX of the commodity boom? Not so much in terms of it being a bad idea, but in symbolism.
Holiday Sales Increase; U.S. Shoppers Spend Less on Average (Bloomberg)
Already we've seen a million conflicting reports about how shopping went the last three days. But then we saw several conflicting reports by Thursday afternoon. As you'll notice, none of them say much of anything -- just a bunch of hedging and statements that could be taken multiple ways. As you can see, holiday sales are up, but shoppers are spending less. Go figure.
Dubai Investment Fund Buys 'Substantial' Stake in Sony (WSJ)
(Abu) Dubai investment fund Dubai International Capital has taken a stake in consumer-electronics maker Sony according to the firm. It's not clear how big of a purchase was made, though it seems likely to have been under 5 percent, since no regulatory disclosure was made.
Online Holiday Shopping Season Kicks Off (AP)
Take an extra long lunch break today, it's Cyber Monday! You know the day everyone gets back to their computers at work and just browses the internet all day for Christmas gifts. Don't worry if you get caught, everyone's doing it! Except they're not. Every year, retailers put out spin about Cyber Monday and what a great day the Monday after Thanksgiving is for ecommerce... and every year the press eats it right up, basically publishing a press release as an article. But as folks who have looked into this know, there's nothing special e-commerce wise today. It's definitely not one of the biggest online shopping days of the season. So take that shopping break at your peril.

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Thompson Unveils Plan For Voluntary Flat Tax (WSJ)
Presidential candidate is ripping a page out of the Steve Forbes playbook and calling for a flat tax. Oh wait, actually he's calling for a 'voluntary' flat tax. We're not really sure what that means -- if you have enough money, you get someone else to do your taxes, and you don't say to the accountant "hey, I think I'll opt for the voluntary flat tax this year". No, you tell them to do it whatever way gets you off the lightest. So ultimately, an accountant has to run the numbers on all options to figure out which is best, which sorta seems to undermine the simplicity of a flat tax.
Dollar Is Expected to Stay Weak Against Euro, Yen (WSJ)
Now here's a viewpoint that takes some conviction -- the Dollar is expected to remain weak. So is it expected to just keep sliding? Or will it just remain where it is, which is weak? Your call. What we do know is that the same arguments being put forth right now are the same ones we've heard for awhile, so it doesn't look like there's much new info to work on.
Cars Detroit Forgot To Build, 1950-1960 (Paleo Future)
One of our favorite new blogs these days is Paleo Future, which browses through past predictions of what the future might looks like -- almost always they were totally off the mark. Anyway, you could browse this site for a while, but the latest one has some retro-future looking cars that the Detroit automakers might've made. We think their fortunes would've been a lot better if they had.
HSBC Postpones NY Data Center Project (Data Center Knowledge)
Just another economic datapoint: HSBC has postponed a big datacenter that it was to have built, citing economic conditions for the delay. Altogether, it was to have been a $1 billion investment over the next 15 years. There's been a boom in data center construction as of late, and banks are, of course, voracious consumers of data. This could be an early sign of some negative spillover on tech.