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Captain's Blog

Captain's Blog, stardate 6/20/07

Crude prices fall but can't save stocks, finding buys before the VCs get them, and more from Fortune Managing Editor Andy Serwer.

By Andy Serwer, Fortune managing editor

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- MARKETS: Newsflash -- We're past Memorial Day, and so oil and gas prices are now free to fall. Sure did today. This from the AP: "The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said crude inventories jumped by 6.9 million barrels in the week ended June 15. Analysts had expected crude stocks to drop by 150,000 barrels. [Wow!] Gasoline inventories rose by 1.8 million barrels, more than the 1 million barrel increase expected by analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires. [2X Wow!] Refinery utilization, meanwhile, fell 1.6 percent to 87.6 percent. Analysts had expected utilization to grow by 0.6 percent." And so the price of crude fell nearly a buck. Expect more to come... Not that it did anything for the stock market.

Still believe that "go away in May" is a powerful powerful thang - that and higher rates that blasted stocks on Wednesday... This from Deep Blue: "Friggin P/E [private equity], I had my eye on JNC (Charts) [Nuveen, which agreed to be bought out by Madison Dearborn for $5.75 billion today] - they've got the best roster of tax-free bond funds out there. Was going to do great with the Dems taking charge next year. Oh well, might go after EV (Charts) [Eaton Vance] now. They could be next... though it looks like I'm not the only one with that idea.... [EV has a] buyout premium. Aahhhhh. Fuel Tech (Charts) - Come to papa. That's what we are looking for!!" AP tells you what Deep means there: "Shares of Fuel Tech Inc. surged Wednesday, a day after it revealed a one-year agreement with Itochu Hong Kong Ltd. to expand the U.S. engineering company's presence in China." Fuel Tech's stock jumped over $5 to nearly $34. What a combo! China + a natural resource play = winner. Find some more! Even in a down market.

IPHONE: Just amazing how more and more and more news trickles out here. You saw the item today on how it will play YouTube videos? Kewl! Has there ever been a more eagerly awaited consumer product? Ever? Expectations can be problematic though. All I know is that I'm getting it, day one. I'll let you know.

NEWSPAPER BIZ: So now The New York Times is following the WSJ's suite and raising prices. NYT's newsstand goes up from $1 to $1.25 beginning July 16.

Sunday newsstand price climbs from $3.50 to $4 on July 15. Home delivery goes up 3 percent to 4 percent. This comes a week after The Wall Street Journal said it would raise its newsstand prices from $1 to $1.50, (a 50 percent increase!) also on July 16th. (What a cooinkydink!) Interesting right, it's a dying business? But if you think about it, how much price elasticity is there? Is anyone going to stop buying the paper because prices are going up 25 percent to 50 percent! And ask yourself this: How many businesses can raise prices that much? Are you kidding me?

Loose Change

What do you think about Bloomberg? I hear he may seriously be running, but I agree with him! The man just isn't electable! I've heard him say this several times! He HATES guns for instance. One thing I can tell that while his personality can be awfully sandpapery, he has been one GREAT mayor of NYC.... Who knows something about Textdigger?... Reading old books these days. The Boyle book on the Hudson River. Also "Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffe," by Laurie Lisle, which I believe was published in 1980. One new book on the docket is Norm Pearlstine's "Off the Record: The Press, the Government and the War on Anonymous Sources."...

Can't wait until tomorrow when I go to the Lyle Lovett/KD Lang show at Radio City!... Ever been to the Mao room at Chinawhite in London? (tee hee) Or should I say: Mee-yow!... Claudia Cohen, RIP.

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