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Opening Bell: 6.4.08

Smucker Brews Up Deal to Buy Folgers (WSJ)
Having followed Smuckers, the jelly company, for a long time, we can honestly say we're pretty excited by reports that it plans to by Folgers from P&G. An all-stock deal, perhaps valued as much as $2 billion could be sealed earlier this week. Why is P&G selling Folgers? Just a some portfolio reshuffling, it sounds like. Previously P&G sold Jif peanut butter to Smuckers, though obviously a peanut butter brand belongs with a Jelly company. But coffee?
Europe Retail Sales Drop by Record on Gas, Food Costs (Bloomberg)
The econ reports out of Europe continue to clammy. Whether it's home prices in the UK or consumer confidence in Germany, or French stuff happening in France, it also points weak. The latest retail sales figures continue this trend, as retail sales dropped 2.9 percent in April (yeah, we know, old history by this point), which is well more than economists had been expecting. The alleged culprits sound familiar: food and gas prices. Even with gas taxes up the wazoo, they still feel movements in the underlying price of crude..
Is Oil the Next 'Bubble' to Pop? (WSJ)
Oh come on, WSJ. Another one of these?
2008 Democratic Presidential Nominee (Intrade)
Pretty much every headline today reads the same: Obama hits magic number and clinches nom. And yet the dude's contract on Intrade is basically trading where it was yesterday at around $.95 on the dollar. Nobody is quite ready to believe its over. Hillary left the door open to... something. And here supporters reportedly screamed "Denver, Denver, Denver" at the rally last night.
2008 WSOP Day 5: Stakes and Shakes (Tao of Poker)
We're with you: we'd rather be in Vegas for the World Series of Poker than here, writing. Unfortunately, it's all about EV. Sadly, the WSOP would be a decisively -EV proposition for us, while comfortably writing from our kitchen table is decisively +EV, even if it is predictable and safe. Anyway, so here we are, reading vicariously about the event. Definitely if you want more than just the hand-by-hand, Pauly at Tao of Poker is the one to read, so check it out.

Did Senate Call Oil Market Top? (Infectious Greed)
At this point, we're still inclined to think of oil like HIillary Clinton -- just when you think she's gone, she comes back. So we're not comfortable (yet) calling tops or ends or anything like that. But a funny/interesting chart from Paul, who notes that the recent May 21 peak in oil coincides perfectly with the beginning of the Senate's actions. If you believe in the magazine cover contrarian indicator, it's not hard to believe in the government action one: as soon as the Senate or a President gets real serious about rah-rahing some trend, it's probably reached some peak or depth.
GM to close 4 plants, focus on small cars (AP)
Here's another sign that oil may have topped: GM officially has closed for large truck/car plants to focus on small cars. Somehow you just know they picked the worst time for that.
An Open-Source Internet Week Brings Open Gripes (Bits)
OMG! How has your Internet Week been? As the cliche goes, if you can remember what you did the night before during Internet Week, you weren't there. In all seriousness, we're glad that this week is filled with all kinds of meetups and conferences, cause NYC never has any of that other stuff during the rest of the year. Anyway, Saul Hansell offers some background, and even a dash of controversy! You'll have to click through to find out.
Rating Firms Seem Near Legal Deal on Reforms (NYT)
You can almost picture the lightweight AG Andrew Cuomo yelling at the bond ratings firms for some vague intransigence, but then ending his lecture with a weak "now don't ever let me see you do this again." Apparently the ratings firms are close to some underwhelming deal that would change the way they do business, perhaps to reduce conflicts of interest or something like that. That's a relief.