- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2009

The top business news from The Associated Press for the morning of Friday, March 13, 2009:

China ‘worried’ about US Treasury holdings

BEIJING (AP) _ China’s premier expressed concern Friday about its holdings of Treasuries and other U.S. debt, appealing to Washington to safeguard their value, and said Beijing is ready to expand its stimulus if economic conditions worsen. Premier Wen Jiabao noted that Beijing is the biggest foreign creditor to the United States and called on Washington to see that its response to the global slowdown does not damage the value of Chinese holdings.


A ‘sorry and ashamed’ Bernard Madoff pleads guilty

NEW YORK (AP) _ Bernard Madoff went from a $7 million penthouse to a tiny jail cell with cinderblock walls and linoleum floors after confessing he carried out what may be the biggest fraud in Wall Street history to escape the pain of a recession. The change in lifestyle for the 70-year-old financier was welcomed Thursday by angry investors who packed into a federal courtroom to watch Madoff plead guilty to cheating nearly 5,000 investors out of billions of dollars.


World stocks jump on Asia stimulus hopes, US rally

HONG KONG (AP) _ Asian markets soared Friday as the prospect of fresh stimulus measures in China and Japan and upbeat signals from major U.S. firms like Bank of America sparked hopes of a turnaround in the world economy. European markets opened higher. Major markets advanced throughout Asia, with Japan’s index shooting up more than 5 percent and Hong Kong’s benchmark gaining over 4 percent. Companies across all industries, from Japanese exporters to Australian resource firms and Chinese banks, posted strong gains.


Oil slips below $47 as investors eye OPEC meeting

SINGAPORE (AP) _ Oil prices slipped below $47 a barrel as investors jockeyed over whether OPEC will announce a production cut at its meeting on Sunday, and how big the cut might be. Benchmark crude for April delivery fell 23 cents to $46.80 a barrel by afternoon in Singapore on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil prices soared $4.70 on Thursday to settle at $47.03.


NAACP says bank giants steered blacks to bad loans

The NAACP is accusing Wells Fargo and HSBC of forcing blacks into subprime mortgages while whites with identical qualifications got lower rates. Class-action lawsuits will be filed against the banks Friday in federal court in Los Angeles, Austin Tighe, co-lead counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, told The Associated Press.


Obama takes on role of nation’s confidence-builder

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Barack Obama is embracing a mantle of confidence-builder in chief. Whether he is meeting with his own economic advisers or worried business leaders, his message is meant to be calm and reassuring _ even in the wake of more bad economic news. Obama will have another opportunity to assert his optimism after he meets Friday with Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman who now guides the president’s economic recovery advisory board. Volcker was preparing to brief Obama and his economic team on how the $787 billion stimulus package is working.


IBM launches water-management services operation

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ IBM Corp. wants to get really deep into water. The technology company is launching a new line of water services Friday, hoping to tap a new sales vein by taking the manual labor out of fighting pollution and managing water supplies. IBM says the overall water-management services market could be worth $20 billion in five years.


Babcock buys time with voluntary administration

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Debt-laden Australian investment firm Babcock & Brown Ltd. was placed into voluntary administration on Friday after shareholders rejected a proposed debt restructure. Babcock, Australia’s second-largest investment bank, said in a statement that it had appointed David Lombe and Simon Cathro of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu as voluntary administrators. Like bankruptcy protection in the U.S., voluntary administration in Australia can buy a company time to trade out of its financial difficulties.


G-20 finance officials meet amid policy divisions

LONDON (AP) _ To spend or regulate their way out of the world recession? That’s the question finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 countries will take up during a two-day gathering starting Friday in Britain. With Europeans focusing on greater oversight of financial markets and the United States backing bigger stimulus spending, the widening cracks on policy are raising serious doubts about how successful the gathering will be in developing a common agenda for the full G-20 summit of heads of state and government next month.


Grape debate: Who has naming rights to Calistoga?

CALISTOGA, Calif. (AP) _ Tucked into the crest of the Napa Valley, this historic hot springs resort may be better known for mud baths than merlot. But lately wine’s been at the forefront of a fierce debate here: Who has the right to the Calistoga name? Some area vintners, like Bo Barrett, master winemaker and general operations manager of the Chateau Montelena Winery, say wines sold under the name Calistoga should be made with local grapes.


Japan Markets

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan’s benchmark stock index jumped more than 5 percent Friday on speculation the government will introduce additional stimulus measures to lift the sagging economy. The Nikkei 225 index surged 371.03 points, or 5.15 percent, to wrap up the week’s trade at 7,569.28. The index lost 2.4 percent the day before and earlier in the week fell to a 26-year closing low. The broader Topix index was up 3.30 percent at 724.30 points.



TOKYO (AP) _ The yen stood at 97.88 yen to the dollar in Tokyo late afternoon Friday, compared with 97.64 in New York late Thursday.


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

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