- The Washington Times - Friday, March 20, 2009

The top business news from The Associated Press for the morning of Friday, March 20, 2009:

Asian markets mixed on worries about US inflation

HONG KONG (AP) _ Asian stock markets were mixed Friday as investors turned cautious amid worries the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest move to combat recession in the world’s largest economy will lead to rampant inflation. Trade was lackluster in most markets, with Tokyo closed for a holiday, as the region closed out one of its strongest weeks this year with a whimper.

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Oil drifts back as trader reasses outlook

SINGAPORE (AP) _ After surging above $51 a barrel the previous day, oil prices drifted back Friday in Asia as traders reevaluated expectations for renewed crude demand amid persistent uncertainty about the global economy. Benchmark crude for April delivery fell 67 cents to $50.94 a barrel by afternoon in Singapore on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices climbed $3.47 on Thursday to settle at $51.61.

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Private inspections of food companies seen as weak

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The mortgage meltdown exposed the weakness of self-regulation in financial markets. Now the salmonella outbreak is doing the same for the food industry. A House subcommittee Thursday released new documents that showed how private inspectors contracted by Peanut Corp. of America failed to find long-standing sanitary problems at company facilities. Peanut Corp. is at the center of a nationwide outbreak that has sickened nearly 700 people and is blamed for at least nine deaths.

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China says Coke case shouldn’t hurt Rio Tinto bid

BEIJING (AP) _ Beijing is confident a Chinese bid to invest in Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto Group will not be hurt by its rejection of Coca-Cola’s attempt to buy a Chinese juice maker, a Cabinet official said Friday. Australian opponents of the proposed investment by state-owned Aluminum Corp. of China, or Chinalco, say the Coca-Cola rejection might help them win public support.

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Japan warming to cheap foreign gadgets amid slump

TOKYO (AP) _ The recession is causing a massive consumer shift in Japan: No longer do its famously finicky and brand-conscious consumers assume imported and no-name electronics are as cheap in quality as they are in price. As products from toasters to laptops carry increasingly similar components and special features _ and as consumers increasingly seek bargains _ price is becoming as important a distinction among electronics in Japan as it is in most countries.

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Cows on the catwalk in Miami for agriculture show

MIAMI (AP) _ Celebrities lounging in nightclubs and beaches crowded with bikini-clad models: a given in Miami. Traffic jams and Latin-American bakeries: sure. Cows? Not exactly what the city’s known for. Those in the agricultural world of Miami-Dade County hope the city’s more pastoral side will come out Friday when nearly 400 head of cattle spend the weekend modeling for vendors from as far as Texas and Argentina. The second annual Miami International Agriculture and Cattle Show aims to strengthen South Florida as a hub for beef exchange between the U.S. and Latin America.

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Indonesian economy seen further signs of decline

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia, is coming under increasing strain from the financial crisis with new projections showing plummeting exports and slowing growth. Bank Indonesia Deputy Chief Hartadi Sarwono said Thursday economic growth may slow to below 4 percent in 2009, down from 6.1 percent last year, due largely to declining exports.

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FDIC closes sale of failed bank IndyMac to OneWest

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said late Thursday it completed the sale of IndyMac Federal Bank, one of the largest casualties of the housing bust, to OneWest Bank. Pasadena, Calif.-based OneWest, a federal savings bank formed by an investor group that includes billionaire George Soros and Dell Inc. founder Michael Dell, agreed last December to purchase the failed California lender for $13.9 billion.

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AIG unit sues Countrywide over loan losses

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A unit of embattled insurer American International Group Inc. filed suit against mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp. in California federal court Thursday, alleging Countrywide misrepresented the health of loans that the company insured, resulting in massive losses. United Guaranty Mortgage Indemnity Co. filed suit in U.S. District Court, accusing Countrywide of breach of contract, fraud, negligence, and unfair competition and business practices.

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NY AG expects Merrill bonus names tonight

NEW YORK (AP) _ New York’s attorney general expects to receive tonight the names of Merrill Lynch employees who got millions in bonuses before Bank of America Corp. bought the brokerage. “We expect them this evening,” said Alex Detrick, spokesman for New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

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Japan Markets

TOKYO (AP) _ Japanese financial markets were closed Friday for the Spring Equinox holiday. The markets will reopen Monday.

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

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