<strong>FINANCIAL TIMES<br />US HOUSING OPTIMISM PREMATURE<br /></strong>Growing optimism over the US housing market may be premature, a leading retailer warned yesterday. Frank Blake, chief executive of Home Depot, said housing market signals were still mixed. “We are concerned about the accelerating rates of foreclosures, particularly in the western part of the country,” he said, noting that one out of every 54 homes in California was in foreclosure.<br /><br /><strong>MGM MIRAGE WARNED OVER GAMING<br /></strong>New Jersey gaming regulators have advised that MGM Mirage should be “directed to disengage” from its Macao joint venture partner, the daughter of gambling tycoon Stanley Ho, a filing by the casino giant says. The recommendation is the first by a US regulator to go against Pansy Ho, who has a 50 per cent stake in the $1.25bn (£808m) MGM Grand Macau.<br /><br /><strong>OIL REBOUND IGNORES FUNDAMENTALS<br /></strong>Take a quick look at the oil price and you would think the market is rapidly returning to health. Yesterday, the market’s main benchmark – West Texas Intermediate – jumped to a six-month high of $60.48 a barrel, up 85 per cent from February’s low of $32.7. Dig deeper into the world of physical oil and another picture emerges, however: the fundamentals of supply and demand are weak – much weaker than current prices imply.<br /><br /><strong>CHARITY TEAMS UP WITH GLAXO<br /></strong>A UK cancer charity is to fund clinical trials of a drug owned by GlaxoSmithKline in a pioneering programme to develop promising experimental medicines that are neglected because of limited corporate funding. Cancer Research Technology, the commercial arm of Cancer Research UK, will shortly begin tests in patients of GSK’s 1070916A, and retain a share of the profits if the drug is successfully launched.<br /><br /><strong>THE TIMES<br />MERKIN FUNDS SEIZED OVER MADOFF<br /></strong>Receivers are to take control of three hedge funds run by prominent money manager Ezra Merkin and linked to the Madoff fraud, under an agreement between New York’s top legal officer and Mr Merkin. Justice Richard Lowe gave the office of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Mr Merkin’s lawyers until 28 May to finalisetheir agreement in principal.<br /><br /><strong>GLOBAL STOCKS UP ON RECOVERY HOPES<br /></strong>Wall Street traded slightly into positive territory this afternoon despite homes data for April revealing record lows for housing starts and permits. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 17.28 points, or 0.20 per cent, at 8,521.36 at 2.30pm in New York. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 0.53 per cent at 914.45.<br /><br /><strong>The Daily Telegraph<br /></strong><strong>MECOM SAYS AD MARKET STABILISED<br /></strong>Mecom, the European newspaper group run by former Mirror Group chief David Montgomery, said the advertising market had stabilised over the last two months since a low point in February. Like-for-like revenues at the group fell 14 per cent in the four months to the end of April, with advertising down 22 per cent alone in February.<br /><br /><strong>VODAFONE SUFFERS AS UK CUTS BACK<br /></strong>Vodafone, the world’s largest mobile phone company, said adjusted operating profit at its UK business in the year to the end of March was down 45.5 per cent because it made less money from expensive “roaming” charges as customers made fewer trips abroad. Britons are also cutting back on calls while at home, with Vodafone UK reporting a 7.3 per cent decline in revenue from calls.<br /><br /><strong>WALL STREET JOURNAL<br />AMERICAN EXPRESS AXES MORE JOBS<br /></strong>American Express, reeling from rising defaults and delinquencies on its credit cards, unleashed its second big round of job cuts in a move aimed at saving $800m (£517m) this year. The New York company said it would eliminate 4,000 jobs, or 6 per cent of its work force, mostly though layoffs. The layoffs, which will save $175m (£113m), come on top of 7,000 job cuts AmEx announced in late October.<br /><br /><strong>US AIRLINE PASSENGER REVENUE AND TRAFFIC FALLS AGAIN<br /></strong>Passenger revenue on US airlines fell by 18 per cent in April compared with a year ago, marking the sixth consecutive month in which the key indicator has fallen as airlines battle with slumping demand for travel, according to an industry trade group. Overall traffic fell by 6.3 per cent, compared with April 2008.