Archive for December, 2010

Craig McCaw to quit as Clearwire chairman

Thursday, December 30th, 2010 | Finance News

(Reuters) – Wireless pioneer Craig McCaw, the chairman of Clearwire Corp, has decided to resign from his position effective December 31, the company said in a regulatory filing late Thursday.

Clearwire, majority-owned by Sprint Nextel, said McCaw's decision to resign is not due to any disagreements with the company on any matters relating to the its operations, policies, or practices.

Clearwire was the first U.S. operator to offer services using the latest in high speed wireless technology that lets consumers surf the web and watch videos on mobile devices.

However, McCaw's departure comes as Clearwire faces more well-financed rivals such as Verizon Wireless, which launched a competitive high-speed wireless data service on December 5.

Earlier, several analysts had downgraded Clearwire's stock after the company said it would cut jobs and suspend some growth initiatives in a bid to save up to $400 million due to uncertainty over whether it would be able to raise new funding.

(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Anshuman Daga)


China orders land hoarding freeze as prices rise

Thursday, December 30th, 2010 | Finance News


BEIJING (AFP) – China has ordered local officials to fine property developers who have left land vacant for more than one year as Beijing cracks down on hoarding that has been blamed for driving up real estate prices.

The country's land and resources ministry on Thursday published a list of 26 cases of land left undeveloped and the names of the property developers involved, with strict orders for authorities to punish the offenders.

Real estate developers who have left land vacant for one to two years should be fined, while property left undeveloped for more than two years should be returned to the government, the statement said.

Listed real estate developers will be banned from participating in auctions until they make use of the land they already own, the ministry said.

Earlier this month, Beijing ordered local governments to curb rapid rises in land prices and pledged to crack down on corrupt developers looking to cash in on the market boom.

Policymakers are struggling to rein in soaring real estate prices, which have risen out of the reach of many ordinary Chinese people despite a range of government measures to bring them down.

In November, prices in 70 major cities were up 0.3 percent from October -- their third straight month-on-month rise -- and were 7.7 percent higher than a year ago, official data showed.

Property prices have been fuelled by low interest rates and rampant bank lending, which reached 7.45 trillion yuan (1.1 trillion dollars) for the first 11 months of the year, just shy of the government's full-year target of 7.5 trillion yuan.

Beijing has tried to keep a lid on prices through a range of measures such as hiking minimum down-payments on all property transactions to at least 30 percent and raising interest rates twice in less than three months.

Authorities have also ordered banks to increase the amount of money they must keep in reserve -- effectively limiting the amount of money they can lend -- six times this year.


Wall Street edges lower as year draws to a close

Thursday, December 30th, 2010 | Finance News


NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks closed slightly lower on Thursday as a trio of better-than-expected economic data wasn't enough to entice buyers to take on much risk in a market sitting on strong gains just before the new year.

The S&P 500 is up 6.5 percent so far this month, putting it on track for the best December since 1991.

Reports on the labor market, business activity and housing all showed surprising strength.

New U.S. claims for initial unemployment benefits in the latest week dropped to the lowest level since July 2008, while a report from the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago showed business activity in the U.S. Midwest rose to its highest level since July 1988. November pending home sales also rose more than anticipated.

"The numbers were very strong this morning, but people are becoming more cautious since it's the end of the year, especially since we've already had a great run," said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank in Cleveland, Ohio.

Monster Worldwide Inc (MWW.N), an employment agency, rose 2.1 percent to $24.12 after the jobless data. The Dow Jones U.S. business training and employment agencies index (.DJUSBE) rose 0.3 percent.

In a sign of investor anticipation of increased merger activity, Anadarko Petroleum Corp (APC.N) jumped 6.9 percent to $75.59 after the UK's Daily Mail reported BHP Billiton Ltd (BHP.AX) (BHP.N) may be lining up a $90 per share offer for the company.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) was down 15.67 points, or 0.14 percent, at 11,569.71. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (.SPX) was down 1.86 points, or 0.15 percent, at 1,257.92. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC) was down 3.95 points, or 0.15 percent, at 2,662.98.

Technical indicators such as the S&P 500's relative strength index and elevated levels of bullishness are leading some investors to call for a pullback.

Though many predict stocks will pull back in January, Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Equity Markets in Jersey City, New Jersey, does not see that happening until February.

"The common sense of the street is that we get pullback after this Santa Claus rally and a very strong run-up in the S&P since August," he said. "But I don't think it will be in early January because everybody is expecting it."

The S&P is up more than 14 percent since August, contributing to a reluctance to make large bets as light volume leaves the market more susceptible to volatility.

February crude futures fell 1.9 percent to $89.35 per barrel after the latest U.S. inventory data, though the drop had little impact on energy companies.

(Editing by Leslie Adler)