- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The top business news from The Associated Press for the morning of Tuesday, March 17, 2009:

Bonus furor may prompt limits on AIG bailout money

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The White House says it’s looking at restrictions on some $30 billion in taxpayers’ money approved to help American International Group as the administration tries to reclaim or block millions of dollars in bonuses the struggling company awarded executives. President Barack Obama and his top aides expressed outrage at reports that AIG went ahead with $165 million in bonuses even though the company received more than $170 billion in federal rescue money. Obama directed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to see whether there was any way to retrieve or stop the bonus money _ a move designed as much for public relations as for public policy.

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Most Asian markets extend rally, but Europe falls

HONG KONG (AP) _ Most Asian stock markets extended their rally Tuesday, with Tokyo’s index up more than 3 percent, as investors snapped up banking shares amid easing fears about the world’s hard-hit financial system. But market watchers were skeptical the turnaround would last, and European shares opened lower after robust gains the day before.

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Oil dips in Asia amid concerns over global economy

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ Oil prices dipped in Asia on Tuesday as traders weighed OPEC’s decision to maintain production levels amid persistent concerns over the global financial crisis. Benchmark crude for April delivery eased 55 cents to $46.80 a barrel by midmorning in Singapore on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices fell as low as $43.62 a barrel Monday but rebounded to close up $1.10 at $47.35.

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Stocks give up gains after 4-day rally

NEW YORK (AP) _ Wall Street’s big rally fizzled _ and maybe that’s OK. Analysts said Monday’s pullback after a four-session surge didn’t necessarily signal that traders were reconsidering their newfound optimism about financial stocks, a main driver behind last week’s advance.

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Obama berates AIG and vows to try to block bonuses

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Joining a wave of public anger, President Barack Obama blistered insurance giant AIG for “recklessness and greed” Monday and pledged to try to block it from handing its executives $165 million in bonuses after taking billions in federal bailout money. “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?” Obama asked. “This isn’t just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s about our fundamental values.” Obama aggressively joined other officials in criticizing American International Group, the company that is fast becoming the poster boy for Americans’ bailout blues.

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Dell hopes PCs can’t be too rich or too thin

The way it came on the scene, it could have been a rare perfume or a designer handbag, undaunted by the roiling economy. The first rumors of it surfaced in December on a lifestyle magazine’s blog. A few weeks later, it was spotted in the arms of runway model Hollis Wakeema in a Las Vegas hotel.

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General Growth extends forbearance request

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Troubled shopping mall owner General Growth Properties Inc. said lenders have waived default on a $2.58 billion credit agreement until the end of the year, allowing the troubled shopping mall owner some time to regain its financial footing. But its Rouse Company unit extended the expiration date on a request for forbearance on another more than $2 billion worth of debt, after it failed to convince enough of its bondholders to give it more breathing room.

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Alcoa unveils plan to cut dividend, slash costs

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ For the first time in more than a quarter century, Alcoa Inc. is slashing its quarterly dividend as part of a plan to lower costs and bulk up its cash cushion amid the recession. In addition to the 82 percent dividend cut, the Pittsburgh-based aluminum maker said it expects to sell $1.1 billion worth of stock and debt and reduce annual costs by more than $2.4 billion by 2010.

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Prosecutors will seek Madoff’s wife’s money too

NEW YORK (AP) _ Bernard Madoff’s wife could theoretically claim more than $100 million in assets _ and should forfeit it all, according to federal prosecutors. The move by prosecutors seeks the court’s help in recovering $22 million in Madoff properties, all of which are solely in Ruth Madoff’s name except for one $3 million property. It also seeks $62 million in cash and securities in her name, $10 million in furnishings in the properties and $10 million for a yacht and other boats.

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Government says business loans down in January

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The government said Monday that lending to businesses from the top banks getting bailout funds fell in January despite the billions of dollars the banks received in government support. The Treasury Department said in a monthly report that lending on regular business loans and on business loans backed by real estate both declined in January, compared to December. The findings were based on reports filed by the top 21 recipients of rescue money from the government’s $700 billion financial bailout fund.

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Japan Markets

TOKYO (AP) _ The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average gained 244.98 points, or 3.18 percent, to 7,949.13, bucking an overnight dip on Wall Street where optimism about financial stocks fizzled.

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Dollar-Yen

TOKYO (AP) _ The dollar rose to 98.71 yen from 98.22 in New York late Monday.

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

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