Opening Bell: 6.17.08

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In volatile markets, oil slips in early trading (AP)
So... that whole Saudi oil production announcement had basically no effect. After trading $140 yesterday, the price of the stuff has now eased to somewhere around $133. Wasn't this announcement supposed to kneecap all the speculators? As for the crazy action, said one analyst: "(A) price swing of $5 per barrel isn't unusual anymore." True, but then it's also not as big of a move as it used to be.
Blunt asks FTC to look at InBev's bid for AB (KWMU)
The governor of Missourri has joined the fight opposing the sale of Anheuser-Busch to InBev. It's pretty silly right. Said Governor Blunt: "I don't talk to many people anywhere in Missouri who wants to see Anheuser-Busch sold to a Belgian company that most of us have never heard of and see headquarters jobs leech out of the beautiful city of St. Louis and see a lot of aggressive cost-cutting that would hurt all of the distributors in every county across the state." As ridiculous as he sounds, there is an upside.. by attacking a Belgian company so vociferously, it gives politicians cover next time they attack a Middle Eastern sovereign fund, on the ground that their protectionism is not just about the Middle East.
Disney Revs Up Tween Star Machine (WSJ)
A couple months ago, Portfolio had a pretty solid story about Disney's tween star strategy, which has been so successful for the company. Miley Cyrus is the big one. Big that article ended on an almost eerie note, wondering when the Cyrus brand would be damaged by her loss of innocence (with days), and what they'd do to replace her. Anyway, WSJ takes a look at the pipeline, and apparently there's someone called Demi Lovato, a 15-year old from Texas completing an album due to hit this Fall. Hopefully it will pass the key trials and get regulatory approval and be able to hit the market smoothly.
A Different Romney Enters Private Equity (peHUB)
We can't remember specifically which of the 5 brothers Tagg was... he might've been the one with the really good jawline. All we know is he wasn't Ben, who, if we recall, was the one that had a beard and didn't look like a Republican. Was there a Mitt Jr.? Anyway, Tagg is joining the world of private equity as a co-founding principal of Solamere Capital. It's trying to raise $200 million.


Mets Fire Randolph Overnight (ESPN)
For you Mets fans out there... while you were sleeping, Willie Randolph was fired. That was always in the if, not when category, though doing it at 3:15 AM is always an unusual move.
AIG's new CEO gets his big break in tough climate (AP)
This was said yesterday, but we have to ask. Did the new CEO of AIG really say that there'd be "no sacred cows?" Is there anything more cliche to say for an incoming CEO at a troubled firm. And is there anything less inspiring, rhetoric-wise? Surely he was misheard.
Latest Honda Runs on Hydrogen, Not Petroleum (NYT)
Back in 2000, we were at the Geneva Auto Show and some engineers from BMW showed off a car running purely in hydrogen. It seemed cool cause it was based on combustion, not a fuel cell, and so it was claimed that the car had better pickup and acceleration than a fuel cell. Anyway, fast foward, and Honda is getting ready to roll off a new hydrogen vehicle off the assembly line. Of course, good luck filling one up anywhere (for the next 25 years). Oh and they only plan to build 200 over the next three years, so get in line No doubt Governer Schwarzenegger has first dibs.
Daimler Announces EU6 Billion Share Buyback Program (Bloomberg)
Why is it that when a company doing badly announces a huge buyback program it always comes off looking desperate? Oh, probably cause it is.

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