- The Washington Times - Friday, August 24, 2007

Regional

U Smithfield Foods Inc. of Smithfield, Va., said profit for its first quarter ended July 29 more than doubled to $54.5 million (41 cents a share) as beef exports improved and the company sold more pork. The company also said sales to China are likely to surge. Its shares rose the most since 2003.

U General Dynamics Corp. of Falls Church, the second-largest builder of U.S. warships, won options worth as much as $2.5 billion to build five dry cargo-ammunition ships for the Navy.

U SAIC Inc., of San Diego and McLean, began work on supply management of chemicals and packaged petroleum for the Defense Department under a contract worth as much as $6.2 billion after the General Accountability Office denied a protest of the award by a Kuwaiti company.

U Former AOL executive Stephen M. Swad was named chief financial officer at mortgage finance giant Fannie Mae, replacing Robert Blakely.



National

U The Federal Reserve added $17.25 billion in temporary reserves to the banking system when it arranged repurchase agreements, or repos. It was the biggest infusion since the central bank added $38 billion Aug. 10.

U The Treasury Department said it will sell $24 billion in three-month bills, the most since at least 1990, and $19 billion in six-month bills, the most in more than a year, amid an increase in investor demand for the safest securities. Demand for the bills has risen along with concern that companies are having trouble rolling over commercial paper debt.

U Banks worldwide have $891 billion at risk in asset-backed commercial paper facilities because of credit agreements that ensure investors are paid back when the short-term debt matures, Fitch Ratings said.

U Countrywide Financial Corp., the nation’s largest mortgage lender, steered consumers into unaffordable adjustable-rate loans and should be required to refinance them, the nonprofit Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America said. Regulators should press Countrywide to change the terms of high-cost loans, the Boston group said.

U HRJ Capital, the investment firm whose partners include retired football players Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott, said one of its funds lost 12.3 percent in the first two weeks of August, erasing most of its 2007 gain. HRJ, based in Woodside, Calif., blamed the decline on the broad impact of the subprime-mortgage crisis.

U Lehman Brothers economists said that a “pullback” in mortgage lending will prolong the U.S. housing recession and trigger job losses in the real estate, construction and mortgage industries. Home sales and construction starts will continue to decline through the middle of 2008, and national home prices will fall “modestly,” the company said.

U American Home Mortgage Investment Corp. said insurance companies and escrow agents “unfamiliar” with bankruptcy law are impeding its efforts to sell foreclosed properties. These parties are “significantly impairing” its ability to conduct business operations and standing in the way of hundreds of buyers eager to close on the purchase of the homes, American Home said in a court filing.

U Accredited Home Lenders Holding Co.‘s finance chief resigned a day after the mortgage company announced the closure of more than half its operations and the firing of 1,600 people. Chief Financial Officer John Buchanan will leave Aug. 31, the San Diego-based lender said.

U First-time applications for jobless benefits fell last week, evidence that the labor market is holding up in the face of a widening credit crunch. Initial unemployment claims declined by 2,000, in line with forecasts, to 322,000 in the week that ended Aug. 18, the Labor Department said. The four-week moving average rose to 317,750 from 313,000.

U Sentinel Management Group Inc., the bankrupt cash-manager accused of fraud by U.S. regulators, won court approval to replace its management with a trustee after executives were barred from accessing company accounts.

U Progressive Corp., the third-largest U.S. auto insurer, apologized after a detective investigating a disputed car crash spied on a church group whose members reportedly confessed drug addiction and disclosed abortions. Chief Executive Officer Glenn Renwick issued the apology after an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article was published.

U Textron Inc., an aviation and defense company operating in 32 countries, will pay $4.7 million to end U.S. probes of bribes two subsidiaries reputedly paid to win contracts from Saddam Hussein’s regime. “Textron knew or was reckless in not knowing that kickbacks were paid” by two French subsidiaries, the SEC said.

U Boeing Co., the second-largest U.S. defense contractor, has fallen behind schedule in delivering functioning border-security towers under a contract with Customs and Border Protection. The agency said there are “flaws” in the towers, which are equipped with motion sensors, cameras and radar to track people trying to cross the Mexican border into the U.S.

U The Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to eliminate 322 jobs and outsource the work to private companies as a way to save money. The positions under review are “administrative support functions” across the country and aren’t directly involved with inspections, enforcement or scientific activities, the FDA said.

U News Corp.’s MySpace and Viacom Inc.’s MTV Networks will partner to offer live dialogues between presidential candidates and the audiences of the social networking Web site and cable TV channel. Users will be able to send instant messages and take part in polls while viewing the discussions.

U Monster Worldwide Inc. said personal information for about 1.3 million job seekers was contained on a “rogue” server that may have retrieved data through unauthorized access of customer accounts. Hackers collected the information after Monster.com customers followed a link in a fraudulent e-mail.

International

U French bank BNP Paribas said it plans to unblock three of its investment funds, whose suspension earlier in the month sparked turmoil on global stock markets. The bank said the “conditions had been met” for valuing them, and the funds would be unblocked on Aug. 28 and 30.

U Coventree Inc. shares tumbled after the company said it is unable to renew $4.64 billion of asset-backed commercial paper. Coventree, Canada’s biggest issuer of short-term debt backed by assets like mortgage and auto loans, also said the difference between what it costs to fund its commercial paper programs and what they earn has evaporated.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

U Jordan‘s energy minister said his country expects to resume Iraqi oil imports soon, ending a four-year hiatus sparked by the U.S.-led war. Khaled al-Shraydeh said the supply would eventually cover Jordan’s daily need of 100,000 barrels and would be trucked in from northern oil fields in Kirkuk accompanied by Iraqi security.

U European Union nations agreed to lift the export ban on British meat and livestock, imposed because of a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, triggering huge relief among British farmers and politicians. The only exceptions are the six-mile containment zones surrounding two farms in Surrey in southeast England where the outbreak occurred.

U Russian airline Atlant-Soyuz is buying four Boeing 737-700 passenger jets, the companies said at Russia’s biggest air show. The catalog price of the order is $249 million.

U Moody’s Investors Service said the rout in global credit markets might hurt profit at German lenders and that some of the country’s savings banks are “potentially vulnerable.”

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