STOCKS NEWS US-Citi: FDA regulation of tobacco co's won't matter

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0935 ET 30Jan2009-Citi: FDA regulation of tobacco co's won't matter
 Citi on Friday said that if the Food and Drug Administration begins to
regulate the tobacco industry, it would make little difference to shareholders,
though it would be unhelpful for sentiment. "Europe has most of the regulations
that are proposed already in place, and profitability and volume trends are
remarkably similar to those seen in the U.S.," it wrote.
 Rep. Henry Waxman of California is expected to introduce a bill ensuring
that the tobacco industry is regulated by the FDA, a bill Citi expects to
 The firm said that the bill could lead to a ban on menthol, an action it
said could hurt Lorillard LO.N, which makes more than 97 percent of its
earnings before interest and taxes from its menthol-flavored Newports. For the
company, "this is potentially a big issue and is certainly likely to create
volatility. However, we don't believe that it is practical to ban menthol,
which currently makes up about 29 percent of the U.S. cigarette market," it
 Reuters Messaging:
0928 ET 30Jan2009-Markets open higher after GDP report, earnings
 Markets opened moderately higher on Friday, after data showed that GDP data
contracted by 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter. Though the contraction was not
as bad as many had feared, it was still the sharpest drop since 1982. Also
weighing on markets was a round of corporate results, including earnings from
such Dow components as ExxonMobil XOM.N, Chevron CVX.N and Procter & Gamble
 The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 0.3 percent to 8,176.68 while
the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.5 percent to 849.25 and the Nasdaq .IXIC was up
0.8 percent to 1,519.97.
 Reuters Messaging:
0917 ET 30Jan2009-January same-store sales expected to fall 2.4 pct
 Same-store sales for retailers are expected to fall 2.4 percent in January,
as the recession weighs on consumer spending, according to Thomson Reuters
Proprietary Research data. The total average estimate improved slightly from
last week, when a drop of 2.5 percent was expected. In January 2008, same-store
sales rose 0.4 percent.
 Excluding Wal-Mart WMT.N, the world's largest retailer, total same-store
sales are expected to slide 5.7 percent, compared with growth of 0.3 percent in
the year-earlier period.
 The Thomson Reuters report read that the consumer confidence index, which
fell to a new low in January, "reinforces the fact that consumers are worried
about their job situation. Consumers realize that the unemployment rate has
been on the rise and if they believe it will stay on that path it is likely
they will continue to hold back on spending."
 All sectors Thomson Reuters covers, including discount, department stores,
apparel and drug retail, are expected to see their comparable sales fall from
the prior year.
 Reuters Messaging:
0909 ET 30Jan2009-Merrill bearish on media co's in the near term
 Merrill Lynch on Friday said it was cautious on media and entertainment
stocks, seeing few positive near-term catalysts for the industry. "Advertising
is likely to contract materially in 2009," the firm wrote, adding that home
video revenue would be under pressure and that companies would have to cut back
on return to shareholders.
 "Historically, media stocks begin to outperform one to two quarters before
the end of a recession, which suggests investors should remain cautious until
at least mid-2009 and perhaps beyond," it wrote, adding that it was skeptical
about a potential recovery in results in the second half of the year.
 The firm said it was only recommending two entertainment companies:
DreamWorks Animation DWA.N and Discovery DISCA.O.
 Reuters Messaging: