Monday PM November 13th, 2006

PMI continues reaching record highs...ThromboVision receives Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Life Science Award...International survey of nanotechnology industry finds nanoparticles may pose environmental and health risks for workers...

The Purchasing Managers Index has reached 62.2, the highest index recorded in the past six months and one point higher than the six-month average of 61.2, according to the National Association of Purchasing Management. The PMI has registered above 60 for 30 of the last 33 months. A reading above 50 indicates the Houston economy is generally expanding. Business Survey Committee Chairperson Bette Bryan says employment continues to be a strong indicator of Houston's economic health, with only five percent reporting a decrease in personnel. Sales increases in October were noted by over 40 percent of the surveyed firms. The PMI is based on a monthly survey of some 80 purchasing executives in oil and gas exploration and production, manufacturing, engineering and construction, chemicals, distribution, business and financial services and healthcare. Components of the PMI include sales, production, employment, purchases, prices paid and inventory levels.

For the sixth time, Lone StarξFundsξVice Chairman Ellis Short and General Counsel Michael Thomson have failed to heed a summons relating to the fund's 2003 acquisition of Korea Exchange Bank. South Korean prosecutors had issued the summons on Thursday, demanding the two appear in Seoul this morning. Both men are based in the United States. Lone Star's Seoul office declined to comment. Prosecutors allege that Lone Star played a key role in understating the financial health of Korea Exchange Bank to facilitate the fund's acquisition of the distressed lender in 2003. They also accuse Lone Star of being involved in the manipulation of the share price of KEB's credit card unit. Lone Star has consistently denied the allegations, saying they are "politically motivated.''

ThromboVision is the recipient of the 2006 Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Life Science Award. The start-up was selected on the basis of commercial potential from among 18 biotechnology and life science companies presenting to venture capitalists and corporate executives at the BioHouston-sponsored 2006 Texas Life Sciences Conference. BioHouston's Jacqueline Northcut Waugh says there's more involved than just peer recognition.

"And with that comes a $50,000 cash prize. The selection committee is made of a group of local and national venture capitalists selecting a company not only, you know, has technology that they believe has tremendous commercial potential but that can really benefit and use this $50,000 to go towards, one more step towards commercializing their product."

Meanwhile, four Baylor College of Medicine researchers are recipients of the 2006 Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Excellence in Research Awards. Dr. Xin-Husa Feng identified a protein that affects cancer cell growth; Dr. Francesco DeMayo is working on treating diseases of the uterus; Dr. Daniel Medina is working on the biology of breast cancer; and Dr. Rongfu Wang is investigating regulatory components of the immune system affecting cancer vaccines.

The first comprehensive international survey of workplace safety practices in the nanotechnology industry finds that many companies believe nanoparticles—specks of matter that are smaller than living cells—may pose environmental and health risks for workers. The survey commissioned by the International Council on Nanotechnology finds that may firms are using conventional environmental, health and safety practices, even though those were developed to deal with bulk materials with different chemical properties than nano-sized particles. The council is a coalition of academic, industrial, governmental and civil society organizations.

An energy-focused hedge fund run by former Enron executive Jeff Shankman called Trident Asset Management plans to launch this week. Dow Jones Newswires says Houston-based Trident will concentrate on various segments of the energy industry, including natural gas, crude oil and propane.

Transit bus service is back to normal in Fort Worth after a five-day strike ended over the weekend. Teamsters Local 997 members agreed Saturday to ratify a three-year contract with the Fort Worth Transportation Authority. That ended the strike by at least 96 employees, including nearly 40 who lost their jobs at least temporarily. A three-year contract expired September 30th. The union representing about 340 workers rejected two offers by McDonald Transit Associates, the company that runs the bus service. Key issues included sick leave and termination policies. Bus service was disrupted November 6th, frustrating many passengers, so the authority known as "the T'' waived fares. Non-union workers and supervisors kept buses moving, but delays were still reported. By Friday, enough union members had crossed the picket line or had been replaced that service was running normally. The three-year agreement includes three percent annual raises and a two-year freeze on health-care costs. But while similar to the initial offer, the contract accepted Saturday doesn't include a previously offered $500 signing bonus.

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