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NORTH KOREA LOADING ROCKET ONTO LAUNCH PAD

WIRE: North Korea is loading a Taepodong rocket on its east coast launch pad in anticipation of the launch of a communications satellite early next month, U.S. officials say. U.S. counterproliferation and intelligence officials have confirmed Japanese news reports of the expected launch between April 4 and 8…

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Filed under: Politics, World, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Stocks Rally After GE Chief Says They Can Withstand Loan Defaults

US Session Key Developments

  • General Electric Can Withstand Loan Defaults
  • Housing Data Surprises to the Upside
  • Alcoa Slashes Dividend 82% to 3 Cents Per Share

Stocks Rally After GE Chief Says They Can Withstand Loan Defaults

Wall Street celebrated St. Patrick today by finishing the trading session deep in the green after General Electric’s Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt stated that the company had sufficient reserves to withstand loan defaults. The comments come as a relief after the conglomerate slashed its dividend three weeks ago for the first time since the Great Depression. Surprising Housing and Producer Price data surprised to the upside, leaving traders in an upbeat mood. The prices that manufacturers pay for raw materials rose 0.2% when excluding food and energy with economists expecting the figure to rise by only 0.1%. With these costs now higher, taxable income deteriorates, which in turn allows companies to be more profitable. Sentiment continued its upward trend after housing starts unexpectedly rose 22% in February. As such, KB Home, the fourth-largest U.S. homebuilder advanced 9.3% along with Home Depot, which rose 6.7%. The blue chips could have performed a bit stronger had it not been for an 82% dividend slash from Alcoa, the largest U.S. aluminum maker and a member of the Dow 30, which brought its quarterly cash payout to only 3 cents per share. Nonetheless broader optimism led Financials to perform the strongest. JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup all moved ahead by more than 7.0%.


Dow 30            7395.70         +178.73           +2.48%

The Dow fell in the minutes after opening bell only to rally from thereon. It closed near the day’s high with only one sector finishing the day down, Materials. The sector’s performance is not of particular surprise considering Alcoa’s stock tanked 8.66% after it slashed its dividend by 82% to 3 cents per share.

NASDAQ         1462.11           +58.09              +4.14%
NASDAQ stocks performed the strongest with Information Technology rallying 4.25%. Apple rallied 4.44% after it had let developers preview a beta of the iPhone OS 3.0, which includes cut and paste features and automatic updates.

S&P 500          778.12            +24.23              +3.21%

S&P 500 stocks saw every sector in the index rally by at least 1.74% with Financials surging 6.58%. General Electric was one of the most active stocks, trading 22.74 million shares after its CEO announced that it had adequate capital reserves to withstand loan defaults. The VIX fear gauge couldn’t find enough momentum to fall below the 40 mark; nonetheless it dropped 6.7% to 40.80. Overall, 476 stocks rose with only 24 finishing the day down.

Filed under: Stocks, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Talking iPod? Apple Unveils New Shuffle, Stock Jumps

“In fact, the latest iPod Shuffle, announced Wednesday and available now for $79, is the first portable music player I’ve tested that announces what’s playing. Push a button and it will tell you, in a computerized voice, the title and artist of whatever song you’re hearing. Keep holding that button and it will recite a roll call of all your playlists, allowing you to select among them. In my tests, this worked as advertised…”

Apple Stock Jumps 4.51%…

Filed under: Media, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Obama Releases Bush WIRETAP Memos

“The Bush administration secretly concluded after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that it had the authority to wiretap the Internet and telephone calls with virtually no limitations, restrict free speech, and use the U.S. military domestically against suspected terrorists.”

Would have allowed U.S. soldiers to search houses and seize suspected terrorists…
Bush retracts definitions of presidential authority five days before leaving office…

Source: Jim Bourg/Reuters

Source: Jim Bourg/Reuters

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Osama Bin Laden NOT Found, Intelligence Community Warns of Oversimplicity

Despite a recent article published in the New York Times, Osama Bin Laden has NOT been found.

“‘What we have attempted to demonstrate is that it is possible to narrow down where Osama bin Laden is by ruling out where he is unlikely to be.'”

“What’s more, the geographers’ paper suffers from a classic data-crunching problem: garbage in, garbage out. In this paper’s case, the trash includes some hoary urban myths about Osama. First, the professors accept as fact that bin Laden requires a kidney dialysis machine. That means he must need to be close to an electrical grid or generator, the UCLA pair reason. Too bad the thing is complete folklore — debunked again and again.”

Filed under: World, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,