Thing One: The News Corp Today, Oh Boy: Are two Rupert Murdoch-run companies better than one?
Murdoch's News Corp. yesterday confessed it was considering a plan to split its company in two, separating the barely-profitable newspaper business that Murdoch loves from its money-making entertainment business, which includes Fox News. The news pushed News Corp. shares up 8 percent, to their highest level since 2007. The idea is that a split would "unlock shareholder value," an annoying term that annoying business types always like to say. That essentially means that investors will pay more for a share of pure, uncut entertainment-division News Corp. than they currently do for a News Corp. saddled with the newspaper division, because its earnings will grow faster.
There is also some hope out there -- at least among News Corp. fans, which do exist -- that a split will enable News Corp. to buy up the rest of the British pay-TV company BSkyB that it doesn't already own. News Corp. was on its way to doing this when its monstrous hacking and bribery scandal erupted in its face, souring British regulators on the bid. Murdoch was recently found by a parliamentary committee to be "unfit" to lead a major company, putting the kibosh on a BSkyB deal. As Murdoch will still control both News Corps. after a split -- at least for the time being -- he's unlikely to trick Parliament into suddenly deciding that a deal is OK again, writes the Financial Times' Lex column.
Thing Two: European Dysfunction Olympics: Today's entry on Europe feels just like yesterday's, only possibly even more absurd, if that's possible. The news so far: European leaders are gathering at the end of the week for a summit to try to find a solution once and for all on the continent's massive debt problem. Except they're further apart than ever, Reuters writes, with Italian leader Mario Monti excoriating Germany for dragging its feet and German leader Angela Merkel reportedly saying Germany would not go along with the joint Eurobonds that everybody wants "in her lifetime" -- over her dead body, in other words. Meanwhile, a second new Greek official has had to resign in as many days, the Washington Post notes. The uselessness of Europe's politicians has put the European Central Bank in the position of having to bend over backwards to help the economy -- Ben Bernanke can relate -- which could include cutting a key interest rate into negative territory, Bloomberg writes.
Thing Three: Win For The EPA: A federal appeals court has approved the Environmental Protection Agency's bid to control carbon emissions, the Wall Street Journal notes, and you could power 50 coal plants with the energy of the industry's whining. Because jobs! "The court's ruling is likely to echo in this year's elections, where Republicans, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, are charging the Obama administration with undermining job growth through tighter environmental rules."
Thing Four: Orange Juice Warning: Orange-juice futures are up 13 percent since mid-May, as traders bet on a busy hurricane season, writes the Wall Street Journal's Alexandra Wexler: "Florida has escaped recent hurricane seasons largely unscathed. The last hurricane to hit the state's coast was Wilma in 2005. But this season already has had a quick start. There have been four storms strong enough to be named, which is above average. Debby was the earliest-ever fourth storm."
Thing Five: Drilling To Glory: Runaway drilling and fracking could eventually end the U.S. reliance on oil from the Middle East, the Wall Street Journal writes -- not necessarily a new story, but with some interesting numbers: "By 2020, nearly half of the crude oil America consumes will be produced at home, while 82% will come from this side of the Atlantic, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. By 2035, oil shipments from the Middle East to North America 'could almost be nonexistent,' the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries recently predicted." The U.S. could already be a big exporter of natural gas if it wanted to, Reuters writes. So this all sounds awesome, unless you count the environmental destruction, which is no fun to do!
Thing Six: Deal On The Ropes: Meanwhile, in today's commodity market, the massive $65 billion deal to merge commodities trader Glencore with mining company Xstrata is not doing well, because major Xstrata shareholder Qatar wants more money, the Financial Times writes.
Thing Seven: Tablet Wars, The Empire Strikes Back: Apple yesterday won a victory in its war to keep its stranglehold on the tablet market, even as a new challenger arises: A federal judge bought Apple's argument that Samsung shouldn't be able to sell its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in the U.S. for a while, cutting off a key competitor. But Google plans to introduce its own challenger to Apple's iPad soon, Bloomberg reports.
Thing Seven And One Half: RIP to the brilliant Nora Ephron -- writer, director, blogger.
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Calendar Du Jour:
7:00 a.m. ET: MBA Mortgage Index for the week of 06/23
8:30 a.m. ET: Durable Goods Orders for May
10:00 a.m. ET: Pending Home Sales for May
Before Market Open:
Time Not Specified:
After Market Close:
Heard On The Tweets:
@Kelly_Evans: Or, as Paul Donovan of UBS puts it: "There are twelve Euro countries that have yet to apply for a bail out." #fivedown
@ReformedBroker: Goldie upgrades $JPM this morning - when banks recommend each others' stocks I always think "What a great wingman."
@ObsoleteDogma: If Egan-Jones really wants to get my attention, they should downgrade Moody's.
@mattyglesias: If only Europe had some kind of “central bank” that could perform the lender of last resort function instead of using the ESM.
-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.