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Five Things You Need to Know for Thursday


What you need to know (and what it means).


Five things you need to know to stay ahead of the pack on Wall Street.

1. Inflation? Alas, we thought we knew ye

Well, what do you know, the Fed has successfully squashed inflation. At least that is the headline interpretation of the Consumer Price Index data reported this morning.

  • The February consumer price index rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.1%, after increasing 0.7% in January, the Labor Department said.
  • The core index of prices, which excludes food and energy items climbed 0.1%, slightly below expectations, after a 0.2% rise the previous month.
  • February CPI showed energy prices down 1.2%, after rising 5% in January.
  • Natural gas decreased 4.5%, the sharpest slide since September 2001.
  • Year over year, energy prices advanced 20.1%.
  • The "benign" inflation data suggests the Fed may be able to stop with just one more rate hike at its next meeting, March 27-28.
  • The Fed Funds Futures had been suggesting the market believed a move to 5.25% by the end of the summer was most probable.
  • Just yesterday there were aggressive comments from Fed Heads Guynn and Yellen worried about an economy near "full usage of resources" and inflation near the upper end of the Fed's "comfort zone."
  • Meanwhile, comments from Treasury and Commerce departments have seperately blamed China's dollar trades and trade policies for potentially boosting inflation threats in the U.S.
  • In the Fed's Monetary Policy Report to Congress in Feb., Fed Chairman Bernanke said inflation was one of the two biggest threats to the U.S. economy. (The other was a sharper than expected downturn in Housing.)

2. Iran

White House national-security strategy identifies Iran as the single country posing the biggest threat to the U.S.

  • In a 49-page national-security document relesased today, the White House identifies Iran as the single country posing the biggest threat to the U.S.
  • This is the first full statement of U.S. strategic goals since... anyone?... anyone?... Bueller?... the release of a report in 2002 in the run-up to the Iraq war.
  • That report in 2002 formally asserted the U.S. right to pre-emptively attack states considered to be "enemies" and terrorist groups seeking to obtain weapons of mass destruction.
  • The new report calls Iran an "ally of terror" and "enemy of freedom."
  • The report is required bty Congress and its principle author is the president's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley.
  • In the report's cover letter, authored by President Bush, he writes, "America is at war" and describes the report as a "wartime national-security strategy" required by the continuing grave challenges posed by "terrorism fueled by an aggressive ideology of hatred and murder."

3. Google Base

In a move that could put Google in competition with eBay and Craigslist, the company is planning to launch a service in Europe that would allow retailers to market their goods online.

  • Google is developing a product still in testing called Google Base, according to the Financial Times.
  • The service, which launched in betat testing last November, provides an online retail platform and is designed to give retailers access to the hundreds of millions of Google users.
  • Google wants companies in retail – and possibly sectors such as real estate – to submit details of their goods and prices.
  • Google would then index and package the information into a consumer-friendly search engine, giving its users a virtual supermarket across a number of retail brands.
  • Google is also increasing the number of sellers who can use its online payment-processing service, a move that could put pressure on eBay and PayPal to cut or even eliminate some fees.
  • The company has been under pressure to develop new lines of revenue amid revelations that online-ad growth rates were slowing.

4. V for Vendetta

Who cares about some movie? No one... unless the movie is reputed to feature a lone, revolutionary bomber fighting a Fascist government. Anithero? Or terrorist? Might as well learn what the fuss is about, and separate fact from the hysteria.

  • The movie, a Wachowski Brothers (of The Matrix fame) scheduled for official release tomorrow, is an adaptation of a graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd.
  • However, Moore has disassociated himself from the film calling the script "imbecilic."
  • It was officially scheduled for release last November but the release was delayed. Although the delay was reportedly due to production, some have speculated it had more to do with the timing of the London bombings.
  • Controversy surrounding the film has focused on the fact the movie's heros are "terrorists."
  • In reality, the film follows protagonist V, a freedom-fighter who pursues political changes in a futuristic fascist government, and features the tagline: People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.
  • One man's terrorism, another man's freedom-fighting.

5. NCAA Basketball

The U.S. stock market will essentially close at 12:20 p.m. EST today as the NCAA Mens Basketball tournament gets underway.

  • The NCAA was founded in Chicago in 1906.
  • There are currently 334 colleges and universities fielding Division I Men's Basketball teams.
  • Only Alaska does not have a mens Division I basketball program.
  • The NCAA Mens Championship Tournament began in 1939. It changed to a 64-team format in 1985, and in 2001 added another team in a play-in round for its current 65-team format.
  • While UCLA holds the record for most championships, with 11, and most consecutive championships, 7, it should be noted that without either Sidney Wicks, Lew Alcindor or Bill Walton, UCLA would have won just 5 championships.
  • By contrast, Kentucky has won 7 championships, one in each decade since the tournament began except the 1960s and 1980s.
  • We invite you all to join us in the Minyanville Bracket Challenge.


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