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Heineken Toasts Blockbuster Beer Deal

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

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2010 is the 75th anniversary of Alcoholics Anonymous, an event symbolized, so to speak, when Alcoa (AA) unofficially opens earnings season this afternoon. Thus it's ironic that today begins with a blockbuster beer deal. Heineken's $7.6 billion (Bloomberg values it at liquid assets of $7.7 billion, but they may have been writing with beer goggles) all-stock purchase of Mexican firm Femsa's hops unit is something of a surprise as SABMiller had, at one point, been in pole position. Still, the bold move may pay off for the Dutch beverage behemoth as it's a transaction that shows foresight and broadens its base away from Europe and allows for improved access to the fast-growing Latin American liquor market. Heineken has always been a little ahead of its time.

While we freeze through a brutal winter, hearts in Chile will warm today as it becomes the first Latin American country to be admitted to the OECD, a milestone development for a one-time dictatorship surrounded by banana republics. That it gained entry to the elite economic club ahead of powerhouse neighbor Brazil will give it particular satisfaction.

World markets -- and oil -- are up on the huge news that Beijing has just overtaken Germany to become the world's largest exporter. And to really rub it n just as our Detroit Auto Show gets underway, its now about all the (Model) T in China: yes, the longtime land of bicycles has officially overtaken us as the world leader in vehicle sales.

Japan's Nikkei Index was closed for Coming of Age holiday, an oddly named vacation for such an aging society. No lack of news out of Tokyo though, where Japan Airlines is today axing almost 16,000 jobs as it rebuffs cash injections from American carriers and hurtles towards bankruptcy. For a country that long prided itself on lifelong employment for its salaryman, it's a further sign that the rising sun also falls.

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