- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

The top business news from The Associated Press for the morning of Monday, March 16, 2009:

World markets extend rally amid cautious optimism

HONG KONG (AP) _ Asian stock markets advanced for a second day Monday, with Tokyo’s index up nearly 2 percent, on cautious optimism that government efforts to heal the financial system will reinvigorate the flagging world economy. European markets opened higher. Still, lackluster trade through most of Asia’s session outside its two biggest markets _ Japan and Hong Kong _ reflected lingering uncertainty after a rally last week triggered by upbeat news about Citigroup and other top U.S. banks.

___

AIG says emergency aid used to pay other banks

NEW YORK (AP) _ American International Group Inc. used more than $90 billion in federal aid to pay out foreign and domestic banks, some of whom had received their own multibillion-dollar U.S. government bailouts. The embattled insurer’s disclosure on Sunday came amid outrage on Capitol Hill over its payment of tens of millions in executive bonuses, and followed demands from lawmakers that the names of trading partners who indirectly benefited from federal aid to AIG be made public.

___

OPEC urges US, others to do more to help economy

VIENNA (AP) _ A senior OPEC official has challenged the US and other industrialized countries to clean up the global economic mess that he says they have caused. OPEC Secretary General Abdullah el Badri says his organization has done its part by deciding Sunday not to cut output levels. But he says OPEC has not seen any positive results from the world’s leading industrialized countries he says have created the problem.

___

Bernanke: recession could end in ‘09

WASHINGTON (AP) _ America’s recession “probably” will end this year if the government succeeds in bolstering the banking system, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Sunday in a rare television interview. In carefully hedged remarks in a taped interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Bernanke seemed to express a bit more optimism that this could be done.

___

Oil falls to near $44 as OPEC doesn’t cut supply

SINGAPORE (AP) _ Oil prices fell to near $44 a barrel in Asia on Monday after OPEC decided not to cut production levels at its meeting over the weekend in Vienna. Benchmark crude for April delivery fell $2.14 to $44.11 a barrel by late afternoon in Singapore on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil prices dropped 78 cents on Friday to settle at $46.25 a barrel.

___

Obama plans small-business lending boost

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Seeking to counter a chorus of unhappy Republicans and nervous Wall Street investors, President Barack Obama and his economic team are taking a cheerier tone while making billions in federal loans available to the nation’s struggling small businesses. Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Monday planned to announce a broad package that includes reduced small-business lending fees and an increase on the guarantee to some Small Business Administration loans. A day earlier, the president’s advisers said in television interviews that they remained confident in the nation’s economic fundamentals, at times adopting upbeat rhetoric the president once mocked.

___

OPEC to keep present output

VIENNA (AP) _ OPEC tried on Sunday to nudge oil prices up by urging its members to stop overproducing, but the cartel decided not to cut current output levels which could have driven prices sharply higher. Explaining the decision, OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla el-Badri spoke of his organization’s concern over “ugly” global economic times that overrode the desire to achieve a quick fix by setting a lower overall output for the 12-nation producer’s club.

___

Dollars from dirt: Economy spurs home garden boom

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ With the recession in full swing, many Americans are returning to their roots _ literally _ cultivating vegetables in their backyards to squeeze every penny out of their food budget. Industry surveys show double-digit growth in the number of home gardeners this year and mail-order companies report such a tremendous demand that some have run out of seeds for basic vegetables such as onions, tomatoes and peppers.

___

Stores, food makers compete on retail prices

Retailers, who begrudgingly went along when food makers pushed up prices to recoup record-high costs, are flexing newfound muscle and demanding price cuts to match the recent steep retreat in ingredient costs. Food makers are resisting, saying the uncertain economy and volatile costs make price cuts unwise. But retailers aren’t backing down.

___

Obama to unveil plans to help small businesses

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Amid misgivings over his spending blueprint, President Barack Obama has decided to provide billions of dollars in federal lending aid aimed at struggling small business owners. The broad package of measures to be announced Monday includes portions of the $730 million from the stimulus plan that will be used to immediately reduce small-business lending fees and increase the government guarantee on some Small Business Administration loans to 90 percent. The government also will take aggressive steps to boost bank liquidity with more than $10 billion aimed at unfreezing the secondary credit market, according to officials briefed on the plan who demanded anonymity to avoid pre-empting the president’s announcement.

___

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

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide