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Burning Oil, Seizing Houses
The main oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S. is closed after an explosion, and oil prices catch fire. Home foreclosures are way up. And the SEC makes it harder for shareholders to nominate their own candidates to serve on companies
 

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EWS AT A GLANCE

U.S.-Canada pipeline explosion boosts oil

An explosion at an Enbridge Inc. pipeline that moves oil from Canada to the U.S. sent oil prices up as much as $4.50 this morning, briefly topping $95 a barrel. (Bloomberg) The explosion, near Clearbrook, Minn., killed two workers and prompted Enbridge to close four pipelines that bring 1.9 million barrels a day to the U.S.—about a fifth of U.S. imports. (MarketWatch) Oil had been declining in recent days. “My initial impression is that this will put a halt to the slide in oil prices and put us back on the march towards $100 a barrel,” said ANZ analyst Mark Pervan. And with winter approaching, “the timing is pretty bad,” he added. (Reuters)

Foreclosure filings spike

The number of U.S. foreclosure filings hit 224,451 in October, RealtyTrac said today, marking a 94 percent increase over last October and a 2 percent increase over September. More than 53,000 homes were repossessed in the month, for a total of 309,557 in the first 10 months of 2007. “Some people are in over their heads, owing more than what they can sell their house for,” said RealtyTrac spokesman Daren Blomquist. (CNNMoney.com) Yesterday, the National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes fell for the eighth straight month and that the inventory of homes on the market is now at a 22-year high. (MarketWatch)

SEC scuttles shareholder board picks

The Securities and Exchange Commission voted, 3-1, to codify a rule that makes it harder for shareholders to nominate their own candidates to serve on companies’ boards. The party-line vote, with the panel’s lone Democrat voting against, upholds the SEC’s decades-long stance that companies don’t have to consider investor board nominations. (The Washington Post) The SEC had received a record 34,000 letters from shareholders opposing the proposed rule, and investor advocates sharply criticized the decision. “The SEC should no longer be allowed to refer to itself as ‘the investor’s advocate,’” said Nell Minow, editor at The Corporate Library. (USA Today)

Beer’s Holy Grail

The 26 Trappist monks at St. Sixtus monastery in Westvleteren, Belgium, are struggling with their success. Monks have been brewing beer at the monastery since 1839, and they haven’t increased production since 1946. And since they only sell it by appointment from the monastery gate, two cases at a time, the beer sells online and in certain bars for more than $15 a bottle, 10 times what the monks charge—if you can find it. “It’s a very good beer,” says beer author Jef van den Steen. “But it reminds me of the movie star you want to sleep with because she’s inaccessible, even if your wife looks just as good.” (The Wall Street Journal)
 

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