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  • NYSE Euronext/Deutsche Boerse Deal May Be in Jeopardy - 12 January 2012
  • While a final decision has not been made yet, it has been reported that the European Union has strong reservations about giving the go-ahead to the NYSE Euronext/Deutsche Boerse. Sources in the know have revealed that European Union antitrust regulators have made a recommendation that the deal should not be finalized, citing concerns that this may result in a European monopoly in exchange-traded futures and options. While speculation is rife, the final say on whether the deal can proceed or not lies with the twenty-seven European Union commissioners. They are scheduled to meet on February 1, with their ruling expected on or before February 9.

  • European Debt Crisis Could Impact U.S. - 15 December 2011
  • In a meeting on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke reportedly revealed to Republican senators that he is concerned about the unresolved European debt problem, noting that a collapse of European markets would be detrimental to the United States. Despite the so-called 'fiscal plan' agreed to by Eurozone members last week, Bernanke is not the only influential figure voicing his concern over the ability of European authorities to put their house in order. Britain is not in agreement with the plan, a key point of which is for Eurozone members to contribute an additional €200 billion to the IMF. A further indication that enthusiasm for the fiscal plan is waning, is the fact that the euro fell to below the $1.30 mark on Wednesday, its lowest point since mid-January this year. The reasons for the rise and fall of the euro are many, and theories and opinions abound, but the fact remains that the national debts of some euro members, most notably Greece and Ireland, have brought the currency to the brink of collapse, and leaders are desperate for a solution.

  • Facebook IPO May Happen Before Year-End - 1 December 2011
  • As social media continues to gain ground both in the business world and with private users, speculation continues as to whether Facebook, arguably the most popular social media network at this time, will go public. Following LinkedIn's successful initial public offering in May this year, investors appeared keen to support IPOs by prominent players in the social media segment of the tech sector. So there was a measure of disappointment that Facebook seemed to be dragging its heels with regard to going public, with rumors that if this happened at all, it would only be in 2012. As we enter the last month of 2011, however, speculation has resurfaced that Facebook may very well issue an IPO before the end of the year, with the objective of raising $10 billion, valuing the company at $100 billion.

  • SOPA Triggers Tech Sector Backlash - 17 November 2011
  • With tech and social media companies continuing to grow in size and influence in the US economy, investors take note when companies like Google and Facebook make waves about proposed legislation affecting these market sectors. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) introduced in the House of Representatives at the end of last month, has these tech giants up in arms as they criticize the proposals for being too stringent, noting that it opens up possibilities for a host of unintended consequences. As the name of the act suggests, its intention is to deal with trademark and copyright issues by targeting foreign sites that facilitate piracy of copyrighted materials such as music, films and television shows.

  • Debit Card Fees Under Spotlight - 14 March 2011
  • Moody's recent credit update on the US banking sector noted that the credit rating agency is expecting a slow return to acceptable credit conditions. One of the numerous aspects of the report revealed that loan charge-offs had continued to decrease, reaching the level of 2.6 percent of loans in the fourth quarter of 2010. This is the lowest level since the fourth quarter 2008, but is still considered to be too high. Based on data indicating estimated losses on charge-offs being in the region of $744 billion between 2008 and 2011, and with around $548 billion in losses having already been incurred, Moody’s anticipates an estimated $198 billion being written off by the end of the year. So it appears that more consumers are in the position to settle their debt, and hopefully start spending again to boost the economy and the business of providing credit.

  • Tax Cut Extensions Raise Hopes for Bullish Future - 20 December 2010
  • Weeks of speculation as to whether the possibility of extended tax cuts would become a reality were brought to a close on Friday with the signing by President Barack Obama of a tax law to the tune of $858 billion, shifting the focus to deciphering what exactly this means for US tax payers, masses of unemployed US citizens, and the path to economic recovery, among other issues. In a public show of solidarity for the welfare of the American people, the President was joined by both Republicans and Democrats at the signing, where he reportedly commented: "We are here with good news for the American people this holiday season. By a wide margin, both houses of Congress passed a package of tax relief that will protect the middle class, that will grow our economy and will create jobs for the American people."

  • Consumer Protection Priority for New Agency - 2 August 2010
  • As the month of July drew to a close, Friday saw Wall Street mulling over concerns about the disappointingly slow US economic growth rate, resulting in a day spent in negative territory and a virtually flat finish to the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 10,465.94, being an increase of 0.4 percent for the week, while the S&P500 dropped 0.09 percent to 1,101.60 for the week, but gained 6.9 percent for the month of July. The Nasdaq Composite ended the week at 2,254.70, representing a drop of 0.4 percent. Responding negatively to GDP data, the market dropped 2.3 percent on Friday, but recovered to an extent later in the day. Investors found themselves faced with a mixed bag of information for decision making, with the US economic growth slowing to an annual rate of 2.4 percent and the economy expanding to a lesser extent in the second quarter of 2010, compared to the first quarter. But on the positive side, the Chicago PMI gauge of business activity and the consumer sentiment index compiled by the University of Michigan were both marginally better than expected, providing a sliver of a silver lining in the cloud of uncertainty.

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