Archive for December, 2008

IBM in sales alliance with Japan’s Ricoh: paper (Reuters)

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008 | Finance News

TOKYO (Reuters) –
IBM (IBM.N) and Japanese office equipment maker Ricoh Co Ltd (7752.T) will start sharing each other's sales network this year and promote their servers and printers together, the Nikkei business daily said on Thursday.

The alliance will enable them to offer corporate clients International Business Machines Corp's servers and Ricoh's copiers and printers as a comprehensive office information technology system, the Nikkei said.

Ricoh expects the new business ties with IBM to help boost its sales by 100 billion yen ($1.10 billion) in two to three years, the newspaper said.

The Tokyo-based company, which competes with Canon Inc (7751.T), Xerox Corp (XRX.N) and Konica Minolta Holdings (4902.T) in copiers and printers, forecast 2.15 trillion yen in sales for the current business year ending March.

IBM and Ricoh will start handling each other's products in their U.S. sales channels in spring 2009, with the cooperation set to expand to other regions including Europe and Asia eventually, the paper said.

Officials at Ricoh, which in 2007 bought IBM's digital commercial printer business for $725 million, were not immediately available for comment.

Digital commercial printers are used to print big documents such as product manuals and direct mail quickly and in large volumes, and are one of the fastest-growing segments of the office equipment market.

Thursday is a public holiday in Japan.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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NYSE says to suspend R.H. Donnelley stock (Reuters)

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008 | Finance News

(Reuters) –
The New York Stock Exchange said it determined that trading in the common stock of yellow pages directories publisher R.H. Donnelley Corp (RHD.N) should be suspended, effective January 2.

NYSE said the decision comes after the company's stock had fallen below the exchange's continued listing standard, which requires an average global market capitalization of not less than $25 million over a consecutive 30 trading day period.

R.H. Donnelley has been trying everything from scrapping dividend to cutting jobs and exiting unprofitable markets in an effort to stop a slide that has seen its shares plunge from a high of $46.92 at the beginning of the year to below $1.

In a statement, NYSE said the company had previously fallen below the listing standard, which requires a minimum average closing price of $1 per share over 30 consecutive trading days.

The company, which started trading on NYSE in 1998 after it was spun-off from Dun & Bradstreet, has been struggling with a relentless decline in advertising sales in the wake of the credit crisis.

Bad debts also hit the company, which owns EMBARQ Yellow Pages and DexKnows.com, as advertisers fell too far back on payments or just went out of business. R.H. Donnelley's slump in fortune has mirrored that of its U.S.-based rival Idearc Inc (IDAR.PK) and peers like British-based Yell Group (YELL.L) and Italian Seat Pagine Gialle SpA (PGIT.MI).

In November, NYSE had suspended trading in Idearc's stock, citing the company's inability to meet the exchange's minimum listing standards.

R.H. Donnelley expects its common stock to be quoted on the Pink Sheets on January 2, 2009.

(Reporting by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty in Bangalore; Editing by Deepak Kannan)

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Wall St closes out worst year since Depression (Reuters)

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008 | Finance News

NEW YORK (Reuters) –
Wall Street closed out its worst year since the Great Depression on Wednesday after an unstoppable credit crisis and a dreadful economic outlook left investors questioning their faith in stock markets.

A string of financial disasters culminating in the collapse of Lehman Brothers in the middle of the night in September precipitated the third biggest percentage loss ever for the Dow industrials and the broad S&P 500.

By November 20, the S&P had hit an 11-year low, destroying more than a decade of returns for many Americans and wiping out memories of record highs reached just 13 months earlier.

"It was plain ugly out there," said Kurt Brunner, a portfolio manager with Swarthmore Group in Philadelphia.

"All in all, it's something that I truly hope is once-in-a lifetime thing."

Nonetheless, U.S. stocks managed to close the year on an up note on Wednesday as fresh efforts to stem the recession from Washington lifted equities for the second consecutive session.

For the year, the Dow fell 33.8 percent, for its bleakest year since 1931; the S&P skidded 38.5 percent; and the Nasdaq posted its worst year ever, with a 40.5 percent drop.

When all was said and done, the S&P 500 found itself $5.02 trillion lighter than it was last year.

The bursting of the housing bubble began a long chain of events culminating in the worst credit crisis in a generation.

A deep mistrust grew between banks while growing doubts among investors about the American banking model crippled financial stocks and yanked a key pillar supporting U.S. equity markets.

As the shortage of credit seeped into the broader economy, unemployment rose and consumer spending dived.

Only two stocks in the Dow ended higher for the year: Wal-Mart Stores (WMT.N) and McDonald's Inc (MCD.N). Investors bet discounters like Wal-Mart and inexpensive fast-food restaurants would be the few places consumers spend scarce cash as unemployment soared and the economy crumbled.

The biggest decliner on the Dow was General Motors (GM.N), which fell 87.1 percent for the year as the company was compelled, along with other automakers, to plead for funds from Washington in an attempt to avoid bankruptcy.

On the S&P, the biggest decliner for the year was insurer American International Group (AIG.N), which fell 97.3 percent after agreeing to an $85 billion bailout from the Federal Reserve in exchange for government control.

But the market rose on Wednesday as investors bet that fresh initiatives from Washington will help stave off a deep recession.

Late Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve provided clarity on its plan to reduce mortgage costs and set a goal to buy $500 billion in mortgage-backed securities by mid-2009, a move that surprised analysts in its aggressiveness.

By buying back the securities more quickly than expected, investors hope mortgage rates will fall at a faster pace and stimulate the beleaguered housing market.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) rose 108 points, or 1.25 percent, to 8,776.39. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (.SPX) gained 12.61 points, or 1.42 percent, to 903.25. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC) added 26.33 points, or 1.70 percent, to 1,577.03.

For the week, the Dow and Nasdaq rose 3.1 percent while the S&P gained 3.5 percent. For the month, the Dow slid 0.6 percent, the S&P added 0.6 percent and Nasdaq climbed 2.7 percent.

Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) was among the top boosts to the Dow, rising 1.6 percent to $79.83 as oil rose 14 percent to over $44 a barrel. Chevron (CVX.N) rose 0.8 percent to $73.97 while the S&P Energy index (.GSPE) added 1.3 percent.

The Fed move came a day after lawmakers gave an additional $6 billion to General Motors and its financing arm, GMAC, in another effort to stabilize the auto industry and prevent staggering job losses.

While 2008 has been a brutal year for global markets, investors are hoping the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama will lay the ground for a recovery.

"There's an optimism that the new team is going to do something," said Michael Cuggino, president and portfolio manager of Permanent Portfolio Funds in San Francisco.

"The impact of fiscal policy will play a huge part in determining how deep and how long the recessionary period is and how robust the recovery period will be."

The Nasdaq was boosted on Wednesday by large-cap tech companies that are seen as better able to withstand the economic crisis due to large cash reserves. Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O), the wireless chip maker, was up 2.6 percent to $35.83, while BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM.TO)(RIMM.O) rose 4.7 percent to $40.58.

Industrials helped lift the S&P 500, including Pall Corp (PLL.N), Textron (TXT.N) and Dow component Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N). The S&P Industrials index (.GSPI) gained 2 percent.

Pall, a maker of filtration products, jumped 9.4 percent to $28.43, while Textron surged 7.6 percent to $13.87. Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar rose 2.3 percent to $44.67 as one of the top performers on the Dow.

Housing was another bright spot. Interest rates on U.S. 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped for a ninth consecutive week and fell to their lowest level since 1971, according to a survey released by home funding company Freddie Mac.

The drop in rates boosted demand for home loans, and U.S. mortgage applications held at the highest level in more than five years during the Christmas holiday week, an industry group said on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones U.S. Home Builders index (.DJUSHB) was up 2.5 percent after the data, led by luxury home builder Toll Brothers (TOL.N), up 4.1 percent to $21.43.

Volume was slim on the New York Stock Exchange, where about 1.2 billion shares changed hands, far below last year's estimated daily average of 1.90 billion. On the Nasdaq, about 1.53 billion shares traded, well below last year's daily average of 2.17 billion.

Advancers outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a ratio of about 5 to 1, while on the Nasdaq about three stocks rose for every one that fell.

(Additional reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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