Investors moved the sidelines Thursday. Prices were modestly lower as traders focused on renewed concerns over the conflict in Iran and mixed reports on retail sales.
Three months ago the Ford Motor Co. pulled the last Taurus off a production line in Atlanta. It had been the workhorse of the company's sedan product line following its introduction in 1992. Well, it didn't take very long for Ford to bring the Taurus back, at least in name. The company announced officially this morning that it will rename the 2008 model of the Ford Five Hundred as the Taurus. The Five Hundred never lived up to expectations, despite favorable comments from owners.
Stock prices were little changed again Wednesday. The modest gains came despite a decline in oil prices and a rapid conclusion to the second largest corporate buyout in U.S. history.
Stock prices are meandering again this morning. After last week's flood of economic news, the agenda this week is modest. However, several Federal Reserve officials, including chairman Ben Bernanke, are scheduled to deliver speeches today. Much is often anticipated from these events but little news ever comes about.
Stock prices were modestly higher Tuesday. Analysts blamed the lack of economic news on the harsh winter weather socking much of the country for the lack of investor activity.
It's a merger Monday with about $10 billion worth of deals announced this morning. One with local connections is a new, competitive bid for The Mills Corp. from Simon Property Group. The offer - $1.56 billion - tops a previous bid from Brookfield, which had offered $21 a share. The Simon offer is $24 cash. Simon owns and operates Fashion Valley and the Carlsbad Premium Outlets here in San Diego County. Mills operates several large shopping centers in Southern California including the Ontario Mills in San Bernardino County.
Another Cinderella report on the economy this morning. The Labor Department reported that payrolls rose by 111,0000 in January, a bit below expectations. But, it also revised higher the November and December numbers by 81,000, making the numbers just about perfect: not too hot, not too cold, just right.
The bidding war for control of Equity Office Properties took another step higher this morning. Vornado has raised its bid to $56 a share for the company headed by investor Sam Zell, who was in San Diego on Tuesday to speak at the commercial real estate conference at the University of San Diego. The current offer tops a previous bid by the Blackstone group. The newest offer from Vornado takes the price tag for the deal well above $38 billion. EOP owns a variety of office and commercial properties around San Diego County.
A growing number of private banks make be willing to make the leap to being a public company in the near future. That's the finding of a new report from Grant Thornton and its 14th Annual Survey of Bank Executives. The report suggests that larger banks are likely to consider a public offering than their smaller rivals. The main reason small, regional banks are hesitant to make the change is the oppressive regulations associated with Sarbanes-Oxley. However, proposals to relax the reporting requirements on smaller companies could open the floodgates for banks to go public.
Investors closed out the month of January with a strong rally pushed by encouraging economic news, an encouraging message from the Federal Reserve, and positive comments from President Bush.
Consumer confidence in January has climbed to the highest level since May 2002. That's the word from the Conference Board this morning. The increase was "fueled primarily by a more favorable job market," said chief economist Lynn Franco. Of course, just about every consumer issue is fueled by the job market. If jobs are plentiful -- which the report confirms -- people are going to feel confident about most financial matters. The Conference Board seems to always try to find an excuse to damper good news. Today's report, like the December reading, was loaded with positive indicators, but the report wording is almost dour.
Stock prices moved higher Tuesday after the Conference Board reported that consumer confidence in January rose to the highest level since May 2002.
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