red flagAnheuser-Busch InBev Hits Roadblock

The maker of the "The King of Beers" will not be expanding its kingdom. Anheuser-Busch InBev S.A./N.V. (NYSE: BUD), itself a creation of a merger, probably will be blocked from buying Grupo Modelo of Mexico. The U.S. Justice Department believes that the marriage would violate antitrust laws. According to the Washington Post:

The merger, announced last summer, would also usher in further consolidation in the U.S. beer market, which has been steadily winnowed down to two major brewers in recent years: AB InBev, based in Belgium, and Chicago-based MillerCoors, the company behind Miller Lite and Coors.

Antitrust officials said Thursday they were alarmed by the prospect of AB InBev gaining even more market share by buying a direct competitor.

"We took this action today because we believe the acquisition is a bad deal for American consumers," said Bill Baer, head of the Justice Department's antitrust division.

Sony PS4 Rumors

Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE), one of the most battered large companies in the world, may launch the next in the line of its PlayStation models - the PS4. Sony has been hurt by the drop in TV prices and digital cameras. It also has inflicted wounds on itself as it has tried to compete with Samsung and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) in the smartphone business. Revenue from its studio operations has been uneven. Even the PlayStation franchise has been undermined by competition from Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Nintendo. And the sales of these traditional game consoles has been whittled by consumer preferences for online and mobile platform products. According to the Telegraph:

Sony has not said whether the event, which is being held in New York on February 20, will see the launch of a new PlayStation console. A spokesman told Reuters: "We will be talking about the Playstation business."

That has not stopped speculation that the PS4 is about to be announced. The Wall Street Journal reports that, according to unnamed sources, the new console will be announced this month and released before Christmas.

U.K. PMI Edges Up

The United Kingdom's PMI showed a 3% year over year rise last month, marking a tiny recovery from what has been a terrible period for its economy. The data were reported by Markit. According to Bloomberg:

U.K. manufacturing expanded for a second month in January as orders rose and output surged the most since September 2011.

A gauge of factory activity was at 50.8, compared with a revised 51.2 in December, Markit Economics and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply said in London today. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. Separate reports today showed euro-area manufacturing shrank less than initially estimated last month, while Chinese manufacturing expanded.

Britain's economy shrank by a more-than-forecast 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter and the Bank of England said last month that "substantial headwinds to recovery remained." Still, Markit said the fact that its factory index remains above 50 is an encouraging start to 2013.


Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Market Open Tagged: AAPL, BUD, MSFT, SNE

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