By | December 15 2011 1:28 PM

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Cannington Silver Mine
Photo: BHP Billiton

Cannington Silver Mine

Cannington Silver Mine
Fifty years on, Chipmunks squeak onto big screen
Photo: BHP Billiton

Fifty years on, Chipmunks squeak onto big screen

Nearly 50 years after they topped the charts with a novelty Christmas song, squeaky-voiced chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore return this holiday season in a computer-animated film with a modern twist.

On Friday, the family film Alvin and The Chipmunks arrives in theaters, long after 1958's The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) catapulted to fame the ersatz rodent trio and their real-life creator, Ross Bagdasarian.

To me, there is something about the voices themselves, said Bagdasarian's son, Ross Bagdasarian, Jr., who shares stewardship of the Chipmunks with his wife Janice Karman.

It's really hard to be having a bad day when those voices start to sing. It's just hard not to smile, he said.

Back in the 1950s, his father was a struggling musician and songwriter earning a living as a sound technician. Bagdasarian found he could change the pitch in voices by adjusting the speed of tape recordings, and his hit novelty song, Witch Doctor was born. Soon after came The Chipmunk Song, which won three Grammys.

In 1961, The Alvin Show debuted on TV with the singing group managed by human David Seville. The show lasted only one season, but Bagdasarian continued cranking out hit albums until he died of a heart attack in 1972.

PUNK 'MUNKS

By 1980, Bagdasarian Jr. and Karman had taken the reins of the Chipmunk empire, and he recorded an album, Chipmunk Punk, that put wiseacre Alvin, book-smart Simon and young brother Theodore back in the limelight.

A second animated TV show, Alvin and the Chipmunks began airing in 1983, and since then Bagdasarian Jr. reckons the trio have been seen in more than 110 countries around the world.

My dad created characters that every parent and every kid can identify with: the parent who is being driven nuts by good-hearted kids that are full of ideas but not always going to do the right thing, said Bagdasarian.

The movie Alvin and the Chipmunks utilizes that same formula and reinvents the trio for modern times. The voices of Alvin, Simon and Theodore are performed by actors Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and singer Jesse McCartney, respectively.

The Chipmunks' home tree in the forest is felled to become a Christmas decoration for a big city office building. To escape their new environs, the trio stowaway in a gift basket carried home by a struggling songwriter, Dave Seville (Jason Lee).

After a round of home-wrecking, Dave discovers the 'Munks can sing, so he writes a hit song -- naturally, The Christmas Song -- and the foursome soar to Hollywood stardom. Along the way, there are lessons to be learned about love, family and the corrupting power of fame and fortune.

(Editing by Belinda Goldsmith and Eric Walsh)

Crude Extends Its Winning Streak
Photo: BHP Billiton

Crude Extends Its Winning Streak

Earlier today, investors were treated to news that crude inventories fell by a wider-than-expected margin last week, an announcement that helped send crude above the 77 level in intraday trading. The October contract pared its gains a bit by the close, however, settling on a 57-cent gain at $76.30 per barrel. It was the contract's strongest close in nearly a month, and its fourth consecutive session of gains. Other petroleum products finished the session mixed: October reformulated gasoline gave back 2.84 cents to close at $1.9717 a gallon, while October heating oil gaining 3.69 cents, or 1.8%, to end at $2.1368 a gallon.

Checking in on another of our favorite commodities, December gold jumped $13.90, or 2%, to mark its highest close since late May. The contract ultimately settled at $704.60 an ounce, supported by high oil prices, strong demand, and a fresh outbreak of violence in the Middle East. Buoyed by gold's strength, December silver gained 17.8 cents, or 1.4%, to close at $12.533 an ounce and December copper added 1.2% to end at $3.3025 a pound.


Jones Apparel to get $840 mln from unit sale
Photo: BHP Billiton

Jones Apparel to get $840 mln from unit sale

Clothing company Jones Apparel Group Inc said it expects after-tax proceeds, net of transaction expenses, of about $840 million as it completed the sale of its Barneys New York Inc unit.

Jones also said it will buy back $400 million of shares from Goldman Sachs & Co under an accelerated share repurchase agreement, with about 15.5 million shares to be received by Sept. 12.

The board has authorized an additional $500 million of repurchases to facilitate the accelerated share repurchase program and other possible future buybacks, Jones Apparel said in a statement.

Under its existing authorization for repurchases, passed by the board in February, $205 million remains available for stock repurchases, the company said.

Luxury clothing chain Barneys New York was bought by Dubai-based private equity firm Istithmar for about $945 million. The deal recently cleared antitrust hurdle.

(Reporting by Neetha Mahadevan in Bangalore)

Market dips, led by Nasdaq after recent rally
Photo: BHP Billiton

Market dips, led by Nasdaq after recent rally

Stocks declined on Thursday, led by losses in the Nasdaq as investors took profits after recent sharp gains.

A higher profit outlook from Wal-Mart Stores Inc limited losses in the Dow and S&P 500.

Apple Inc, which had been higher earlier in the session after receiving a price target increase from Goldman Sachs, erased gains to become the top drag on both the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 index.

There may be some profit-taking in some of the names that have done well, said Owen Fitzpatrick, head of the U.S. equity group at Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management, in New York. A lot of these names over the last couple of days have had pretty tremendous runs.

Apple was among stocks that led the Nasdaq's recent run higher.

Shares of Wal-Mart, which notched their biggest advance in four months, rose 3.5 percent to $47.19 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The outlook from Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, overshadowed disappointing September sales from other retailers, including Target Corp and J.C. Penney Co Inc.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 16.02 points, or 0.12 percent, at 14,062.67. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 2.65 points, or 0.17 percent, at 1,559.82. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 26.31 points, or 0.94 percent, at 2,785.30.

Shares of Apple were down 2.6 percent at $162.45.

Technical analysis for December 12, 2007
Photo: BHP Billiton

Technical analysis for December 12, 2007

CHF

The pre-planned buyers' positions from the key support range have been realized with attainment of main assumed targets. OsMA trend indicator having marked the relative rise of buyers' activity supports a corresponding choice of planning priorities for today. Hence and because of bearish character of indicator chart, we assume a possibility of pair return to supports 1.1270/90, where it is recommended to evaluate the activity development according to the charts of shorter time interval. For short-term buyers' positions on condition of formation of topping signals the targets will be 1.1330/50, 1.1390/1.1420 and/or further breakout variant up to 1.1460/80, 1.1520/40, 1.1580/1.1600. An alternative for sales will be below 1.1250 with the targets 1.1190/1.1210, 1.1110/30, 1.1070/90.

GBP

The pre-planned breakout variant for sales has been realized with attainment of minimal assumed target. OsMA trend indicator having marked the break of the key support range with a considerable rise of sales' activity gives grounds to choose bearish planning priorities for today. Hence and because of ascending direction of indicator chart we assume a possibility of pair return to resistance range 2.0400/20, where it is recommended to evaluate the activity development according to the charts of shorter time interval. For short-term sales on condition of formation of toping signals the targets will be 2.0330/50, 2.0280/2.0300 and/or further breakout variant up to 2.0200/20, 2.0160/80. An alternative for buyers will be above 2.0450 with the targets 2.0490/2.0510, 2.0560/80, 2.0620/40.

JPY

The pre-planned breakout variant for sales has been realized with the overlap of minimal assumed target. OsMA trend indicator having marked the considerable rise of bearish activity at the break of the key support range according to the chosen strategy does not leave the other variant but planning priorities in favor of sales. Hence and because of ascending direction of indicator chart, we assume a possibility of pair return to resistance range 111.30/50, where it is recommended to evaluate the activity development according to the charts of shorter time interval. For sales on condition of formation of topping signals the targets will be 110.70/80, 110.20/40 and/or further breakout variant up to 109.60/80, 109.00/20. An alternative for buyers will be above 111.70 with the targets 112.10/30, 112.70/90, 113.30/50.

EUR

The pre-planned breakout variant for sales has been realized but with a loss of several points in attainment of minimal assumed target. OsMA trend indicator having marked the relative rise of bearish activity at the break of the key supports but within the activity parity of both parties revealed the features of formation of reversal bullish signal that gives grounds to presume a possibility of range movement of the rate without distinctness in a choice of planning priorities. Hence and because of ascending direction of indicator chart, we assume a possibility of pair return to resistance range 1.4690/1.4710, where it is recommended to evaluate the activity development according to the charts of shorter time interval. For short-term sales on condition of formation of topping signals the targets will be 1.4640/50, 1.4590/1.4600 and/or further breakout variant up to 1.4530/50, 1.4490/1.4510. An alternative for buyers will be above 1.4730 with the targets 1.4770/90, 1.4820/40, 1.4880/1.4900.

Modest Fed cut weighs on stocks, dollar
Photo: BHP Billiton

Modest Fed cut weighs on stocks, dollar

Asian and European stocks tracked Wall Street lower and the dollar slipped on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve's interest rate cut disappointed investors hoping for more aggressive action.

The Fed cut benchmark interest rates by a quarter percentage point to 4.25 percent on Tuesday, confounding investors who had expected a bolder half point move to help to cushion the U.S. economy from the subprime mortgage crisis and tight lending conditions.

It cut the discount rate -- at which banks borrow from the Fed -- by a matching 25 basis points, also letting down those who had expected a deeper cut to help financial institutions shore up their balance sheets by the year end.

Some participants were expecting a bigger cut than 25 bps and some were also expecting a more aggressive decision on the discount rate. So ... that's somewhat disappointing, said Carole Laulhere, currency strategist at Societe Generale in Paris.

Clearly the major risk is that the Fed is forced to cut rates once again ... The other opportunity will be that the Fed may cut the discount rate more aggressively, and another possibility will be for the Fed to inject more liquidity.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 1 percent while MSCI main world equity index was down 0.6 percent. Wall Street fell more than 2 percent on Tuesday.

The dollar was down around 0.3 percent against the euro and sterling, while it gained 0.6 percent against the low-yielding yen.

High-yielding currencies such as the Australian and New Zealand dollar rose 1 percent against the greenback in a sign that investor risk appetite in the foreign exchange market is holding up.

MORE MEASURES INEVITABLE

Few people believe that the Fed has finished loosening monetary policy. A majority of Wall Street dealers, polled by Reuters, expect the bank to lower interest rates in January. Some expect even more aggressive action.

By practically doing the least amount realistically possible, the Fed may well have put itself into a position where it may have to do the unthinkable and cut rates again inter-meeting, David Rosenberg, North American economist at Merrill Lynch, said in a note to clients.

We're not even sure the Fed fully acknowledges how fast the economy is decelerating. It notes that 'economic growth is slowing' when it is actually vanishing.

A Fed source told Reuters late on Tuesday that the central bank is actively considering all of the tools it has available to address liquidity issues.

Newspaper reports said action could come as early as Wednesday. The Financial Times web site said an overhaul was likely to take the shape of a new liquidity facility that will auction loans to banks.

It said this would allow the Fed to provide liquidity directly to a large number of financial institutions against a wide range of collateral without the stigma of its existing discount window loans.

Liquidity shortage has been a problem in the financial sector as banks hoard cash as a contingency against credit-related losses.

Analysts say, however, there is sufficient liquidity in the world economy in general, partly as emerging markets enjoy large current account surpluses. Even in the euro zone where interbank lending is drying up, money supply growth is at record highs.

Central banks in Europe and the United States also face growing inflation risks from high energy and food prices, which limit the options of aggressively cutting rates.

Emerging sovereign spreads widened 1 percent while emerging stocks were down more than 1 percent.

The March Bund future was steady.

U.S. light crude fell 0.5 percent to $89.58 a barrel as the Fed's modest rate cut was seen weighing on demand. Gold fell to $803.40 an ounce.

(Reporting by Natsuko Waki; editing by David Stamp)

Safeway (SWY) Drops on Earnings Report
Photo: BHP Billiton

Safeway (SWY) Drops on Earnings Report

Grocery chain Safeway reported a 12% increase in third-quarter earnings this morning, as profits rose to $194.6 million, or 44 cents per share, compared to the year-ago results of $173.5 million, or 39 cents per share. The per-share profit figure falls right in line with analysts' expectations. Meanwhile, revenue gained nearly 4% to $9.78 billion.

Safeway also affirmed its full-year earnings outlook for a per-share profit of $1.95 to $2.00 per share.

The shares have ticked 1.5% lower out of the gate this morning. The stock has been locked in a sideways channel since September 20, ricocheting between the 32.50 and 34 levels. SWY's trading range has been defined by its overhead 20-week moving average and its supportive 10-week trendline.

Investors are showing a definite pessimistic slant toward Safeway. Its Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio checks in at 0.83, just 6 percentage points away from an annual peak. Meanwhile, short interest represents more than 4% of the stock's available float. At SWY's average daily volume, it would take 5 days for all the existing shorted shares to be repurchased but it doesn't seem as though these bears are feeling any pressure just yet.


No. 9 - Pallancata Silver Mine
Photo: Hochschild Mining

No. 9 - Pallancata Silver Mine

Pallancata Silver Mine, an underground operation in Peru, is owned by Hochschild Mining and IMZ. Last year it produced 10,136,000 ounces of silver.
David Greenlaw, economist at Morgan Stanley
Photo: Hochschild Mining

David Greenlaw, economist at Morgan Stanley

Dow Jones - The bottom line is that the market now senses a lack of concern on the part of the Fed and this leads to a heightened anxiety regarding the outlook for the economy.

Here is a list of the 10 biggest silver-producing mines in the world, based on available data. There are differences of opinion about some of the rankings and some of the production figures. Such differences of opinion stem from how miners report production (some report pure silver production while others report silver equivalent production), whether production is reported by individual mines or as an aggregate of mines within the same geological complex, among other reasons. The ranking and the annual production figures provided here is based on data provided by Intierra Resource Intelligence. For the purposes of this slide show, all mines are labeled silver mines. However, some of these 10 mines may also produce copper or gold or other metals and may be more commonly recognized as copper mines or gold mines.