- - Tuesday, January 10, 2012

FEDERAL RESERVE

Fed pays near-record $76.9 billion to Treasury

The Federal Reserve said Tuesday it had paid $76.9 billion to the U.S. Treasury from its estimated 2011 earnings, mainly income from interest collected on a range of securities.

The amount was only 3 percent less than the 2010 record payment of $79.3 billion and reflected the extraordinary actions the Fed has taken to prop up the economy since the 2008 financial crisis.

Most of the 2011 earnings came from $83.6 billion in interest income on government-linked securities, such as U.S. Treasury securities, the central bank said.

The bank’s balance sheet has ballooned since the Fed launched massive asset purchases to support growth following the 2008 financial crisis that led to the worst recession in decades.

OIL

Benchmark price rises above $102 per barrel

NEW YORK — Oil prices climbed Tuesday on expectations that China’s economy, and its appetite for petroleum, will continue to grow in 2012.

Benchmark crude rose by 93 cents to finish at $102.24 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price foreign oil varieties that are imported by U.S. refineries, rose 70 cents to $113.15 per barrel in London.

Prices rose after China said oil imports grew 6 percent in December when compared to a year earlier. China is the world’s second-biggest oil consumer behind the U.S. Strong demand for oil in China likely will help support higher global crude prices in 2012.

Manufacturers are looking to China and other emerging economies for strong growth this year. Aluminum maker Alcoa on Monday was the first major U.S. company to report fourth-quarter earnings. Although it posted a loss, Alcoa offered a bullish outlook for the year, expecting strong demand from China.

LOUISIANA

Chinese drywall maker will resolve damage claims

NEW ORLEANS — A Chinese drywall manufacturer would pay hundreds of millions of dollars to resolve court claims by thousands of Gulf Coast property owners who say the product wrecked their homes in a deal that has been given preliminary approval by a federal judge.

In an order issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon says he thinks the proposed settlement is “fair, reasonable and adequate.”

Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. agreed last month to create an uncapped fund to pay for repairing roughly 4,500 properties, mostly in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The deal also would create a separate fund capped at $30 million to pay for other types of losses, including those blaming drywall for health problems.

EUROPE

EU leaning toward blocking merger of stock exchanges

BRUSSELS — A person close to the process says the antitrust division of the European Commission is pushing to block a proposed merger between the Deutsche Boerse and NYSE Euronext exchanges.

The person said Tuesday that the team examining the merger for the EU fears the combined company would have an overly dominant position in the exchange-based trading of derivatives in Europe.

The person said Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia is expected to recommend a block at a Feb. 1 meeting. But he stressed it is unclear that other commissioners would agree. The merger would create the world’s largest stock exchange.

A second person close to the merger says “it looks like they are working toward a prohibition.”

OREGON

Manufacturer sells $500 million in fuel cells

HILLSBORO — An Oregon fuel cell manufacturer said Tuesday it has reached an agreement to sell $500 million worth of equipment to an energy company in Austria.

ClearEdge Power Inc. of Hillsboro said the agreement with Gussing Renewable Energy GmbH, in Gussing, Austria, is one of the biggest yet in the fledgling fuel cell industry and will produce up to 50 megawatts of power by the year 2020.

A privately held company, ClearEdge produces fuel cells that are about the size of a home refrigerator. They take a fuel such as natural gas and break it down to produce heat and electricity.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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