- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2008

Regional

BAE Systems, the Rockville subsidiary of British defense giant BAE Systems PLC, said it won two follow-on delivery orders for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles totaling $715 million from the Marines.

Norfolk Southern Corp.’s forecast of a 2 percent gain in rail shipments this year might be “difficult to achieve” because of the slowing U.S. economy, Chief Financial Officer James A. Squires said. Its shares dropped $4.48, or 8 percent, to $52.41, the most in a year and a half. Union Pacific Corp. also said shipments decreased. Its shares fell $5, or 4 percent, to $124.30.

Sprint Nextel’s Boost Mobile, the wireless-service provider that targets customers under age 30, began selling advertisements on its phones to bolster revenue. Boost will initially display ads from News Corp.’s Fox Searchlight Pictures and Honda Motor Corp.’s Acura line.

National

Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers said they borrowed from a program created by the Federal Reserve to jump-start lending amid concern that Wall Street faced a cash shortage. “We have tested the [discount] window because we want to remove the stigma from the window,” Morgan Stanley Chief Financial Officer Colm Kelleher said.

Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said he will push for stricter federal regulation of investment banks, to include making them hold reserves similar to those required of commercial banks. Mr. Frank said the financial crisis demonstrates that innovations by investment houses have outpaced regulations.

As more than 14,000 Bear Stearns Cos. employees watch the value of their stock sink and brace for firings, some of the company’s 550 brokers who handle individual investors’ accounts are receiving job offers from competitors promising windfalls of $2 million or more. Many Bear brokers are said to be among the top producers in the securities industry.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said it will change a rule to let banks exceed federal lending limits in transactions such as JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s cash infusion to Bear Stearns Cos. The federal government will allow JPMorgan to temporarily exceed a limit of 15 percent of total capital on loans to Bear Stearns, the regulator said.

Discover Financial Services LLC, spun off from Morgan Stanley last year, said its first-quarter profit fell 65 percent to $81.2 million after shedding its card business in Britain and preparing for more defaults by U.S. cardholders. Excluding the sale, profit totaled $239 million (50 cents per share), exceeding estimates. Still, Discover shares fell nearly 13 percent.

The Food and Drug Administration identified a contaminant in batches of the blood thinner heparin associated with 19 deaths and is trying to determine how the chemical got into the drug. The lots of heparin, whose key ingredient was imported from China, were recalled Feb. 28 and officials said no new deaths have been reported since that time.

International

For the second time in a week, Japanese lawmakers voted down the government’s nominee for central bank chief, leaving the post vacant for the first time since World War II. The opposition-controlled upper house of parliament rejected Koji Tanami, a former Ministry of Finance bureaucrat, by a vote of 125-112.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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