Nikkei Surges on Steel Merger Plans and Impressive Earnings

Japanese investors were giddy with excitement as positive earnings reports and the announcement of a major merger flooded the news. The Nikkei 225 advanced 1.1% on Friday, while markets in Hong Kong and China remained closed for the Lunar New Year.

Rio Tinto Offers $3.5 Billion for Riversdale Mining

Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto (RIO) made a $3.5 billion bid for Riversdale Mining (RFLMF). The offer values Riversdale at about A$15 a share, Reuters reported. That%u2019s a 6% premium on Riversdale%u2019s close on Dec. 3. The shares rose today to A$16.31 each.

Walter Energy to Buy Western Coal for $3.3 Billion

Walter Energy Inc. (WLT), a southern Appalachia producer of coal for making steel, agreed to buy Canadian company Western Coal Corp. (WTN) for C$3.3 billion ($3.3 billion). Walter Energy made an offer of C$11.50 per share in cash or 0.114 of a Walter Energy share for each share of Western Coal, Bloomberg News reported. The cash price is a 26% premium to the 20-day average price of Western Coal.

U.S. Steel Is Springing Back Strongly

Big Steel is finally turning around, and U.S. Steel is one of the leaders. The giant global producer is well positioned to be a key player in promising U.S. and European markets, and is deftly situated in terms of raw materials and financial resources.

Five Potential Potholes on Road to Recovery

News that business inventories and industrial production are rising suggests the U.S. economic recovery is on track. But unlike previous recessions, there are five potential "potholes" in the road ahead. Declining employment and increasing commercial real estate foreclosures are two possible biggies.

Steel Tariff Heats Up U.S.-China Trade Tensions

The U.S. International Trade Commission's decision favoring domestic steelmakers over Chinese exporters brought an immediate condemnation from China. It also likely ensures that the growing spat, which also includes Europe, will extend into 2010.