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Dubai Up in the Air

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The world in your hands: An overnight, overseas update.

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An edifice reaching over 160 stories high appears an unlikely story in Dubai, which has lately tended towards having both its equities and expensive dining underwater. Still, this morning sees it unveil the world's tallest structure -- a gleaming skyscraper begun in headier days over half a decade ago, but whose ostentatiousness is slightly incongruous now that the desert kingdom is a poster child for bailouts and bad debts. The Empire State Building, built in double quick time during the depths of the Depression, was truly uplifting at a time when the host country was desperately in need of inspiration. However, given the fate of history's tallest landmarks, none sadder than the World Trade Center but also including bankruptcies for the firms behind both the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) and Woolworth Building, it seems a dubious honor Dubai is set to celebrate.

In other international news, 2010 starts with a Merger Monday as ophthalmic outfit Alcon (ACL) is being bought for $39.3 billion by Swiss drug giant Novartis (NVS), whose CEO Daniel Vasella can be forgiven a case of red eye after seeing his house go up in flames last year.

Slow hand claps ended 2009 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, but high-speed trading today came to the land of high-speed trains as Japan launched a new system which can execute orders in "five milliseconds." Japan Airlines was today's big winner, up 31%. American fliers, beset by ever lengthening lines at airports, should be so lucky.

New year, same old story for Kraft (KFT) and Cadbury (CBY) . Expect both equities to trade actively this morning after an article appeared over the weekend indicating that the British chocolate maker will be the subject of an increased buyout bid.

No positions in stocks mentioned.
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