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Opening Bell: 2.1.08

Microsoft Proposes Acquisition of Yahoo! for $31 per Share
It's been rumored forever, but now the company has made its move, at long last. And here we thought the resurgence of its core businesses would keep it from doing something rash.
China, Alcoa Buy Rio Tinto Stake (WSJ)
Even more exciting: China's Chinalco and Alcoa (an American company, so that's odd right there) have teamed up to buy a slice of Rio Tinto. The cost of the stake $14 billion. Of course, BHP Billiton has had its eyes on RT for awhile, so this gets some lemon juice in their eye.
OPEC Pins Hopes on U.S. Soft Landing (WSJ)
Ah, this phrase again, soft landing. Allegedly, OPEC is hoping for a soft landing for the US economy, so that oil doesn't fall back to $15. We don't really know what the phrase meant, but we recall in early 2001 taking a roadtrip through the bible belt and seeing gas stations with phrases like "Pray to Jesus for a soft landing" and thinking that it was hilarious. In retrospect, that was a fairly soft recession, so, maybe the prayer worked."
Consolidation in soda ash (Oligopoly Watch)
Since M&A is a theme today, we thought we'd point you to Oligopoly Watch's discussion of Tata Chemical's bid for General Chemical Industry Products, which has to have the best company name we've heard in a long, long time. What does it mean for the soda ash industry? Click to find out.