Opening Bell: 2.4.08

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Hong Kong shares close sharply higher, led by financials (AFX)
A good night for financial stocks in Hong Kong. Why? Because of the snow in China. How does that benefit financials? Because maybe it'll make the Chinese central bank hesitant to raise interest rates. At least that's the theory put out there by someone. Convoluted, probably. After all, the only reason the central bank wouldn't raise interest rates is if they thought growth was slowing, which you think wouldn't be so good. But whatever.
Google Offers to Help Yahoo Fight Off Microsoft (WSJ)
Apparently Google CEO Eric Schmidt has contacted Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang about doing something to help thwart of Microsoft's bid. We're not sure what it is, or what it could be. The general consensus is that the company can't actually make a bid itself though. In the meantime, it seems like it would be a perfect time for the folks to bone up on their Sun Tzu -- we can only imagine that the warrior-philosopher-turned-business-pundit has a lot to offer about friends f friends and enemies and enemies and times of crisis.
Studios Set Stage for TV's Return (WSJ)
Nothing official yet, but word is that they're on the brink.
France Said to Suggest New Controls for Its Banks (NYT)
Nice timing. French regulators are looking to impose some new controls on banks, you know, so that they might better avoid multi-billion trading losses next time. Among the things they'd like to see happen: alerts to senior management if a trader was getting a bit wild. Of course, if a trader knows the inner workings of the system, and can purposely avoid detection, it's all sort of moot, isn't it?


ECB Will Probably Keep Rate at 4% on Inflation Fears (Bloomberg)
Somewhere along the line, we read the mandate for the Federal Reserve, and it does say something like it's job is to fight inflation and recession at the same time, which pretty much seems like contradictory goals. Does the EU have the same prerogative? It seems like they're pretty much focused on the whole inflation thing and are less interested in manipulating the economy. We're not sure, of course, it's just that a lot of their public statements would seem to suggest it's how they feel.
Presidential Primaries (Intrade)
The long slog known as the primaries could (thankfully) be over tomorrow... though of course the general starts right away, and that's arguably worse. Right now, on Super Tuesday Eve, John McCain is up to about $.88, about as high as he's ever been. Hillary meanwhile, has been sliding hard, and is down to $.53, so that pretty much tells us nothing. Our bet? Hard to say... there might be value in Romney, but don't come running here when you lose.
Ryanair Third-Quarter Profit Falls 27% as Prices Drop (Bloomberg)
At our favorite airline, higher fuel + lower ticket prices * weaker consumer spending = lower profits for the first time in a while. Maybe they're not putting enough ads on the seatbacks, or charging enough fr luggage service. Whatever it is, we're sure they're not being as aggressive as these guys.
The (iron ore) plot thickens — and China stirs and stirs…(FT Alphaville)
China continues to feed the beast, or at least it's appetite for base metals. See they're not only buying US assets. Word is that the China Investment Corp. is looking to buy a big stake in Australian Iron Ore Fortescue Metals, whose owner is the country's richest man.

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