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  • Federal Open Market Committee - 24 February 2011
  • As a vital component of the US Federal Reserve System, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) has the responsibility of overseeing America’s open market operations – the implementation of monetary policy, including buying and selling of United States Treasury securities, by means of which the central bank manages short term interests rates, as well as the supply of base money in the economy.

  • Retail Giants, Consumer Spending Under Wall Street Spotlight - 21 February 2011
  • With mega-retailers Wal-Mart, Target, Macys, and JC Penney, among others, set to release quarterly earnings this week, stock market investors will no doubt be interested in consumer activity trends in the United States – and it appears that there is reason to be optimistic. The mall used to be the place to hang out in the 80s, and even into the 90s, but its grip started to slip in the late 90s and when the global crisis hit, quite a number of shopping malls across the country were forced to close their doors, or became virtual ghost towns with a few die-hard stores hanging on hoping for better times. By 2009, the results of a survey carried out by consultants Customer Growth Partners, revealed that the market share of department stores located in shopping malls had fallen to 2.4 percent. A follow-up survey in 2010 noted that this percentage had moved up to 2.5, indicating a slight, but significant, shift in consumer spending.

  • Dow Jones Global Compliance Symposium: Staying on the Right Side of the Law - 17 February 2011
  • With the catchphrase of "Winning Strategies for Navigating Rapid Change", the Dow Jones Global Compliance Symposium is set to take place at the Park Hyatt in Washington from March 31 at 07:30am EDT through to April 1 at 02:30pm EDT. Few would deny that the symposium catchphrase is apt - we are living in an era of rapid changes, with organizations such as WikiLeaks determined to expose questionable practices, and social networking sites venturing further into the realms of governance, whether at a corporate level, or even at government level, often with unprecedented, even drastic, consequences.

  • Wall Street Upbeat For Week Ahead - 14 February 2011
  • While Egypt may appear far removed from Wall Street, in a world that has become a global village, what happens in one country often has an effect elsewhere, and US markets responded well to the prospect of stability brought about by the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Although there is no clear-cut path set out for the road to stability in the Egyptian government, the end of violent protests allows authorities to focus their energies on the task of moving ahead. However, with the Middle East experiencing rumblings of unrest at different levels, this region is likely to remain under the spotlight for some time. Believed mainly to be in response to developments in Egypt, the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 0.4 percent (43.97 points) on Friday to close at 12,273.26 thereby clocking up a gain for the week of 1.5 percent. Likewise, the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.7 percent (18.99 points) to close Friday on 2,809.44, recording a 1.5 percent gain over the week before. The S&P500 rose by 0.6 percent (7.28 points) on Friday to end the day on 1,329.15 and end the week up 1.4 percent over the previous week.

  • M&A Activity in Exchanges Raises Concerns - 10 February 2011
  • As technology drives down the cost of accessing markets around the world and opens up electronic trading to a growing flood of investors, exchanges are looking at joining forces through mergers and acquisitions – such as the proposed acquisition of NYSE Euronext by the Deutsche Borse. Should the proposal be approved, shareholders of Deutsche Borse would be majority owners of the new entity which will be domiciled in the Netherlands. Replaced by high-speed technology, gone are the days of organized chaos that characterized the NYSE as portrayed in the movies, where fortunes were made or lost and market changes were greeted with human emotions of elation or despair. Some call it progress, while others express concern over giving increasing power to technology and being at the mercy of machines with less and less human intervention, opening up the possibility of disaster, as was experienced in the ' flash crash' of May 6, 2010.

  • Job Market Boost Essential for Recovery - 7 February 2011
  • The unemployment rate in January dropped to 9 percent from the previous month's 9.4 percent, while the 36,000 jobs added to the US economy in the first month of 2011 disappointed economist who were expecting at least 49,000 added jobs. Inclement weather gripping large parts of the US was blamed for the uninspiring job market performance, with the household survey used by the Labor Department to determine the unemployment rate, confirming that severe winter weather prevented around 886,000 people from seeking employment during the month of January. Moreover, the Labor department revealed that 2010 job growth figures previously reported were overstated by around 215,000 and revised figures confirmed that about 900,000 jobs were created in 2010. Economists estimate that in order to make a tangible difference to the unemployment rate figure, at least 300,000 new jobs need to be created each month. Nevertheless the drop in the unemployment figure is seen as a positive sign for economic recovery.

  • Comcast/NBC Merger Raises Media Dominance Concerns - 3 February 2011
  • Comcast Corporation, the largest home internet service provider and cable operator in the United States, has completed its merger with American television network NBC, in a deal that has raised concerns regarding the level of control the now $30 billion media giant will have over information delivered to the public. Comcast now holds a 51 percent stake in NBC Universal, with General Electric holding a 49 percent stake, putting Comcast in the position of controlling more telecommunications lines and Internet connections than any other service provider in the country. Included in the assets of Comcast will be the NBC broadcast network, a number of cable channels, more than twenty local NBC and Telemundo stations, online video portals, movie studios and the network that delivers media content to millions of Americans through cable and internet connections. In order to overcome the possible threat to "the development of innovative online video distribution services", as noted by the FCC, a range of stipulations and conditions are included in the deal, many of which are only for a set period of time.

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