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WSJ: Morning Update

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Monday, November 1, 2010

WSJ: Morning Update

Vote Hints at Historic Political Volatility

KOKOMO, Ind.—Voters this week look set to do something not seen since the early 1950s: Oust a substantial number of sitting House lawmakers for the third election in a row.

The apparent Republican resurgence suggests the country is caught in a cycle of political volatility witnessed only four times in the past century, almost all during war or economic unease.

The see-saw nature of the nation's politics raises a question: How can the country solve its long-term problems—deficit spending, an underfunded Social Security system, spiraling health-care costs—when voters seem so uncertain which party should lead the charge

GOP Set for Gains as Voters Voice Anger

Republicans are positioned for large gains, likely retaking the House and picking up seats in the Senate, amid strong voter frustration with Obama and the Democratic-run Congress, according to a WSJ/NBC poll.

Obama Less Lofty as Rhetoric Shifts

President Obama closed out his 2010 campaign season in Cleveland with a mocking rebuke of Republicans, in stark contrast to the hopeful rhetoric that marked his 2008 campaign.

Stocks Face Dark Side of Gridlock in Capital

Investors have bid up shares in anticipation of Tuesday's U.S. election and Wednesday's expected Fed announcement of new quantitative easing. But now that the moment is upon us, Wall Street is worried that it overdid things.

Consumer Spending Rises a Bit

U.S. consumer spending rose a modest 0.2% in September, as incomes unexpectedly fell for the first time in more than a year.

Growth in Profit, But Concerns Over Sales

Companies are likely to face a tougher road to profit growth next year, boding ill for new hiring, after posting some of their healthiest profit margins in years in the third quarter.

China, India Manufacturing Surge

Manufacturing in China and India continued to surge in October, bucking the trend in the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, where strong currencies and concerns over the health of the global economy are dragging down business sentiment.

ICBC Buys U.S. Brokerage Firm

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China paid $1 to acquire the Prime Dealer Services unit of Fortis Securities from BNP Paribas. That makes it the first Chinese bank to buy a foreign broker-dealer.

BofA Tries to Untangle Mortgage Files

Bank of America employees are slogging through 102,000 foreclosure files, one of the side effects of the bank's 2008 acquisition of Countrywide.

Ryanair Lifts Full-Year Forecast

Ryanair raised its full-year net profit forecast after reporting a 32% increase in second-quarter net profit as higher yields and increased capacity offset higher fuel costs.

Safety Crackdown Hits Mining Profits

A U.S. regulatory crackdown that followed an April mining explosion that killed 29 workers in West Virginia is cutting into profits at coal mining companies.

New Whistleblower Law Criticized

A widening of financial incentives for employees to tell regulators about corporate wrongdoing threatens to increase costs for companies and undermine internal fraud detection efforts, corporate lawyers and advisers say.

Enron's Skilling to Seek Release

A Court of Appeals panel will hear arguments about how many of the 19 felony counts on which former Enron President Skilling was convicted should be overturned as a result of a landmark Supreme Court decision.

Apple Sues Motorola Over Patents

Apple sued Motorola alleging the company's smartphone lineup infringes on the iPhone maker's intellectual property.

Incentive's End Hits Japan Auto Sales

Japan's auto sales marked their biggest on-year drop in 18 month after the expiry of government buying incentives, in another headache for the industry as it struggles to cope with the impact of the stronger yen.

Fox, Cablevision Reach Agreement

Cablevision and Fox Networks reached an agreement ending a two-week stalemate marked by heated rhetoric, legal actions and missed sporting events.

Start-Up Aims at Google

Google's dominant position in Web search isn't deterring other entrants. The latest, Blekko, hopes to attract users by narrowing search results.

Roche's Plan for Rivals

Roche CEO Severin Schwan is preparing the Swiss drug giant for a battle it hasn't faced before: competition from generic copies of its cancer-fighting biotech drugs.

'Saw 3D' Tops Box Office

The horror movie "Saw 3D" topped all films at the weekend box office.

Michaels Weighs Comeback Plans

Former Tribune CEO Randy Michaels is considering a return to the media industry after leaving Tribune amid unflattering accounts of its corporate culture.

Tests Loom for BHP-Potash Deal

A series of regulator and court decisions in the coming week may guide how BHP Billiton proceeds with its $39 billion hostile bid for Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan.

BG Group Approves Queensland Gas Project

BG Group announced final investment approval for the first phase of its massive liquefied natural gas project in Queensland state.

Cementing, Mainstay of Oil Drilling, Is Prone to Failure

Cementing, a crucial step in drilling safely for oil or natural gas, is prone to frequent failures such as the one that led to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Potential Award for Terra Firma Sharply Reduced

The potential damages that could be awarded to Terra Firma Capital in its fraud suit against Citigroup has been reduced by almost three quarters, highlighting the risks the case carries for the buyout firm.

Troubled Shinhan Faces Challenge

Shinhan Financial Group faces a difficult challenge after its latest management shift: finding a new leader with enough credibility to reassure worried investors.

Stocks, Dollar in Rare Sync

Stocks and the dollar are moving in precisely opposite directions, breaking their usual pattern of trading independently of one another, as investors await word on the Fed's stimulus plans.

Gold Bull's Prediction: $10,000 an Ounce

Shayne McGuire, a pension-fund manager at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas and author of the book "Hard Money," says his $10,000 outlook for the yellow metal is grounded in logic.

Yemen Covert Role Pushed

The foiled mail bombing plot by suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen has added urgency to a White House review of military options that include giving the CIA more control of special operations.

Clinton Presses Cambodia on China

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed Cambodia to remain independent of China on key economic and environmental issues, as she continued a pan-Asian tour aimed at expanding Washington's diplomatic influence in the region.

Rousseff Elected President in Brazil

Dilma Rousseff, a 62-year-old former leftist guerilla-turned-powerful cabinet minister, was elected Brazil's first female president in a lopsided victory.

Okinawa Vote Complicates U.S.-Japan Ties

The twists and turns of a key local election in Japan have put a considerable barrier in front of efforts by Tokyo and Washington to strengthen their security ties

Medvedev Visits Disputed Island

Russia's president visited an island that has long the subject of a dispute with Japan, a move that could cause a major headache for a government already stung by a bitter territorial spat with China.

Death Toll in Iraq Church Siege Rises

Iraqi security forces stormed a Baghdad church where militants had taken an entire congregation hostage for four hours, leaving at least 52 people dead.

Indonesia Volcano Ferocity Swells

Indonesia's most volatile volcano—one of 22 that have been increasingly active—spewed searing clouds of gas and debris for hours in its most powerful eruption in a deadly week.

Facebook Says User Data Sold to Broker

Facebook said a data broker has been paying application developers for identifying user information, and that it had placed some developers on a six-month suspension because of the practice.

Videogames as Free-Speech Issue

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court's nine real-life justices will consider whether to strip First Amendment protection from violent videogames that critics say appeal to the deviant interests of children.

Intel Grants Rare Access to Start-Up

Intel has agreed to make chips for a semiconductor start-up, the first time the Silicon Valley giant has given another company access to its most advanced production processes.

EBay Attacks Its Clutter

EBay is unveiling new elements of an overhaul in how shoppers find products on the site, part of an urgent effort to close a technology gap with rivals.

*  *  *

A World Series That's Rich in Character

Sports would be a far more amusing place if it relaxed, exhaled and learned a lesson from this lo-fi World Series between Texas and San Francisco.

*  *  *
Giants Win 4-0 Over Rangers

Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner threw eight shutout innings to lead his team to a 4-0 win over the Rangers and one game away from a World Series title.

Phone Recording Sets Off Firestorm in Alaska

Employees at a CBS affiliate in Anchorage left an accidental voicemail for an aide to GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller in which they discussed and laughed about the possibility of reporting on the appearance of sex offenders at a Miller rally.

*  *  *
3M Balances New and Old

3M is using acquisitions and its own labs to diversify into such areas as biometrics and fuel cells. But the 108-year-old company also has updated one of its original products: industrial-grade sandpaper.

*  *  *
Memo to Staff: Dump Your Trash

Some 20,000 Texas state employees recently got a new task added to their job descriptions: taking out the trash.

*  *  *
WTC Taps Fuel Cells

The six fuel cells that will provide about 30% of the power for towers 3 and 4 of the World Trade Center office complex would make the site one of the biggest fuel-cell installations in the world.

*  *  *
Rift Shines Light on a Big Player

Brooklyn real-estate mogul Rubin Schron is fighting his former lawyer for control of a national nursing-home company.

*  *  *
Fort Worth Nuns Say This Is Rangers' Year

With their beloved team at long last playing in the World Series, two nuns, members of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, say they always believed it would happen.

*  *  *
Shanghai: Most-Visited World's Fair

While World's Fairs have demonstrated technological innovations, the first one in China, which ends Sunday in Shanghai, fittingly showcased crowds.

*  *  *
Chemists Seeking 'Legal High' Outfox Law

A wave of chemically-savvy European entrepreneurs see gold in the gray zone between legal and illegal drugs.

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