- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The top business news from The Associated Press for the morning of Wednesday, March 18, 2009:

Fed scopes out options with key rate near zero

WASHINGTON (AP) _ With a key interest rate already near zero, Federal Reserve policymakers are weighing what other tools they can use to jolt the country out of recession. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues resume their two-day meeting Wednesday, and at its conclusion they are all but certain to leave a key bank lending rate at a record low to try to bolster the economy, which has been stuck in a recession since December 2007.

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AIG chairman inherits retention bonus mess

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Edward M. Liddy, chairman and CEO of American International Group Inc. since last fall, has become the reluctant defender of princely employee bonuses that members of Congress _ and much of the American public _ find indefensible. AIG, the giant insurance company that has received $170 billion in government assistance, is paying more than $200 million in bonuses to keep employees from fleeing its troubled financial products division. On Wednesday, Liddy was to pull up a chair at a congressional witness table and take the heat.

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Asian markets edge higher after Wall Street rally

SHANGHAI (AP) _ Asian markets rose modestly Wednesday after an overnight surge on Wall Street boosted sentiment across the region, while Tokyo shares were buoyed by fresh support for the wobbly financial system from the Japanese central bank. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index led the region, gaining 239.08 points, or 1.9 percent, to 13,091.03, while Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average added 23.04 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,972.17.

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Oil drifts below $49 in Asia as rally stalls

SINGAPORE (AP) _ Oil prices drifted below $49 a barrel as investors mulled whether a still-weak global economy and crude demand have justified a recent rally in prices. Benchmark crude for April delivery fell 41 cents to $48.75 a barrel by late afternoon in Singapore on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices rose $1.81 a barrel on Tuesday to settle at $49.16.

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World Bank cuts China’s 2009 growth forecast

BEIJING (AP) _ The World Bank cut its forecast of China’s 2009 growth from 7.5 percent to 6.5 percent on Wednesday due to plunging exports but expressed confidence in Beijing’s ability to keep the world’s third-largest economy expanding amid global turmoil. The drop in trade will hurt investment and job creation, the bank said in a quarterly report. But it said China still should grow faster than other major countries due to its huge stimulus package and strong banks, which were unhurt by the global crisis.

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China rejects Coke bid to buy juice maker

BEIJING (AP) _ China rejected Coca-Cola Co.’s $2.5 billion bid to buy a major Chinese fruit juice maker Wednesday in a closely watched case that stirred nationalist opposition to the sale of a successful homegrown brand to foreigners. The proposed purchase of Huiyuan Juice Group Ltd. was rejected on anti-monopoly grounds, the Commerce Ministry said on its Web site. It would have been the biggest foreign acquisition of a Chinese company to date.

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Toshiba Corp. names new president

TOKYO (AP) _ Toshiba Corp. said Wednesday it has named a new president, joining a string of other Japanese companies in shuffling management amid a crippling recession. The Japanese electronics company said its board of directors nominated Corporate Senior Executive Vice President Norio Sasaki, an expert in nuclear energy, as new president and chief executive officer.

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Time to make the doughnuts again at Dunkin’

NEW YORK (AP) _ It’s time again to make doughnuts. After focusing on waffle breakfast sandwiches and espresso-based coffee drinks, Dunkin’ Donuts is coming full circle with a new advertising campaign to remind people it also sells doughnuts.

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Citigroup’s top economist tapped for Treasury post

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Citigroup’s chief economist is being tapped for a job at the short-staffed Treasury Department, which is at the center of the Obama administration’s efforts to battle the financial crisis. Lewis Alexander will become a counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, according to a government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because a formal announcement has not been made. Alexander will work on domestic finance matters, the official said.

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Gov’t steps up scrutiny of Madoff’s assets, bail

NEW YORK (AP) _ Prosecutors stepped up their scrutiny of Bernard Madoff’s family and assets Tuesday, telling a judge they want to seize jewelry, business interests and more than $30 million that the disgraced money man and his wife lent to their two sons. The move was one of two motions that prosecutors filed Tuesday, four days after Madoff pleaded guilty to what could be the largest fraud in history. The other motion argued that Madoff must remain behind bars before his sentencing because his guilty plea creates a tremendous motive to flee, especially since he faces the near-certainty of a life prison sentence.

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Japan Markets

TOKYO (AP) _ The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average added 23.04 points, or 0.29 percent, to 7,972.17 after briefly surpassing 8,000 for the first time in a month.

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Dollar-Yen

TOKYO (AP) _ The dollar fell to 98.61 from 98.79 yen in New York late Tuesday.

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

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