- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

The top business news from The Associated Press for the morning of Thursday, April 2, 2009:

World markets surge as US data boost recovery hope

HONG KONG (AP) _ World stock markets soared Thursday, with Hong Kong’s benchmark vaulting more than 7 percent, as stronger-than-expected U.S. economic figures boosted confidence the world’s largest economy is on the mend. Huge gains in Asia and a strong open in Europe followed an overnight surge on Wall Street and extended last month’s rebound in world equity markets amid tentative signs of stabilization in the hard-hit global economy and banking industry. It came as Group of 20 leaders met in London for a summit that aims to hammer out policies to combat the economic slump and reform the global financial system.

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Tobacco regulation bill up for vote Thursday

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Anti-smoking forces are predicting a long-awaited victory when the House votes on legislation that would, for the first time, allow government regulation of tobacco products. The House scheduled a vote for Thursday morning on the legislation, which gives the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate _ but not ban _ cigarettes and other tobacco products.

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Group of 20 leaders get to work at crisis summit

LONDON (AP) _ Leaders of the world’s rich and major developing countries began talks aimed at agreeing a new deal on the global economy at a crisis summit in London on Thursday, hoping to clear up divisions over how far to go with tougher financial regulation. As President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown joined other leaders at a working breakfast at the ExCel center in the city’s east Docklands district, protesters began gearing up for a second day of demonstrations, gathering outside the London Stock Exchange near St. Paul’s Cathedral.

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Insurer Swiss Re to cut 10 percent of work force

ZURICH (AP) _ Swiss Reinsurance Co. said Thursday it will cut 10 percent of its work force this year in a bid to reduce costs and simplify its operations. The world’s second-biggest reinsurance company, which currently has 11,560 employees, also announced the appointment of Agostino Galvagni as new chief operating officer.

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Oil rises above $49 in Asia

SINGAPORE (AP) _ Oil rose above $49 a barrel Thursday in Asia as glimmers of hope that the U.S. economy may be stabilizing were weighed against concerns that global demand remains weak. Benchmark crude for May delivery rose 94 cents to $49.33 a barrel by afternoon in Singapore in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.27 on Wednesday to settle at $48.39.

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FASB poised to give firms leeway in valuing assets

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The board that sets U.S. accounting standards is expected to ease rules that force banks to value assets at current prices, allowing them to reduce their losses on paper. In a twist, though, the expanded leeway for financial institutions could undercut the government’s new financial rescue program in which it is joining with private investors to buy up about $500 billion in toxic assets from banks, some experts say.

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Tests nipped risk of tainted pistachios in bud

TERRA BELLA, Calif. (AP) _ A nationwide recall of 2 million pounds of pistachios in the wake of a salmonella scare has increased calls for more stringent food testing laws. The contamination was only detected because of voluntary testing by a manufacturer for Kraft Foods Inc. almost two weeks ago. Private auditors hired by Kraft later found problems they think caused the contamination at a supplier’s processing facility in central California.

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American Airlines union goes viral against execs

DALLAS (AP) _ Unions at American Airlines have picketed, worn buttons and rented billboards to protest what they consider unseemly management bonuses. Now they’re using an interactive Web site game to skewer their CEO. The Transport Workers Union, which represents mechanics, bag handlers and other ground workers at American, said Thursday it is launching a new campaign to protest stock-based compensation for several hundred management employees later this month.

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Feds seize Madoff’s Palm Beach mansion, yacht

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Authorities have swept up the leftovers of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff’s opulent Palm Beach lifestyle _ including a mansion and vintage yacht _ but it won’t go far repaying investors defrauded of billions. Barry Golden, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service, said about five marshals arrived at the 8,753-square-foot, five-bedroom mansion late Wednesday afternoon, hours after the boats were seized.

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Toyota roots for GM, hopes for US sales recovery

TOKYO (AP) _ Toyota officials reiterated Thursday that they wished the best for struggling General Motors, and expressed hopes the latest U.S. sales data show an approaching recovery in a key market battered by crushed consumer spending. “We don’t see it as an opportunity,” Yasuhiko Ichihashi, senior managing director, said of GM’s woes. “We want the American market to return to health.”

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Japan Markets

TOKYO (AP) _ Japanese stocks rumbled higher for a second straight day Thursday, as investors were cheered by a strong showing in the U.S. overnight and hopes for new economic measures at a Group of 20 summit in London. The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average rose 4.4 percent, or 367.87 points, to 8,719.78. The gains followed a 3 percent rise on Wednesday.

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Dollar-Yen

TOKYO (AP) _ In currencies, the dollar was trading at 98.81 yen Thursday, from 98.65 yen Wednesday in New York.

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A service of The Associated Press. Copyright 2009 All rights reserved.

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