- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The top business news from The Associated Press for the morning of Tuesday, March 24, 2009:

Asian stocks rise on US bank plan; Europe mixed

HONG KONG (AP) _ Asian stock markets extended their rally Tuesday after Wall Street surged on hopes a U.S. plan to rid banks of festering debts at the heart of the financial crisis will revive growth. European markets were mixed in early trade. Financial firms jumped, Japanese exporters rose on the sliding yen, and South Korean stocks got a boost from plans for massive stimulus spending. The gains came after U.S. stock benchmarks jumped around 7 percent or more Monday.

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Oil eases but stays above $53 in Asia



KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ Oil prices eased Tuesday in Asia but stayed above $53 a barrel on hopes that the U.S. government’s move to purge ailing banks of up to $1 trillion of toxic assets could speed up economic recovery. Benchmark crude for May delivery fell 53 cents to $53.27 a barrel by midafternoon in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract climbed as high as $54.05 on Monday before settling at $53.80, up $1.73.

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Airlines group predicts big industry losses

GENEVA (AP) _ World airlines will lose $4.7 billion this year due to the economic crisis, while revenues will drop by more than after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S., a major industry association predicted Tuesday. The revised loss estimate, nearly double the previous forecast issued in December, reflects “the rapid deterioration of the global economic conditions,” said the International Air Transport Association.

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Fed, Treasury chief to get grilled on AIG

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Federal Reserve’s chairman and the secretary of the treasury are making a rare joint appearance at a congressional hearing, ostensibly to take a scolding over the handling of bonuses at AIG, the giant insurance company that has become the symbol of reckless risk-taking on Wall Street. But after venting their spleen yet again at a House hearing Tuesday, lawmakers also were expected to press Fed boss Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the new risks to taxpayers from their latest effort to save tottering banks and the U.S. economy: a plan to take over up to $1 trillion in dodgy mortgage securities with the help of private investors.

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Workers feel the brunt of health insurance woes

WASHINGTON (AP) _ American workers _ whose taxes pay for massive government health programs _ are getting squeezed like no other group by private health insurance premiums that are rising much faster than their wages. While just about all retirees are covered, and nearly 90 percent of children have health insurance, workers now are at significantly higher risk of being uninsured than in the 1990s, the last time lawmakers attempted a health care overhaul, according to a study to be released Tuesday.

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Stocks point lower after stocks surge

NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks pointed lower early Tuesday a day after stocks surged by the biggest amount since October. Some pullback was to be expected a day after the Dow Jones industrial average jumped 498 points, or 6.8 percent, after the government detailed a plan to take over up to $1 trillion in bad mortgage securities with the help of private investors. An unexpected rise in home sales also lifted the mood of traders.

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Dow jumps as White House moves on bad bank assets

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Obama administration aimed squarely at the crisis clogging the nation’s credit system Monday with a plan to take over up to $1 trillion in sour mortgage securities with the help of private investors. For once, Wall Street cheered. The announcement, closely stage-managed throughout the day, filled in crucial blanks in the administration’s financial rescue package and formed what President Barack Obama called “one more critical element in our recovery.” The coordinated effort by the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. relies on a mix of government and private money _ mostly from institutional investors such as hedge funds _ to help banks rid their balance sheets of real-estate related securities that are now extremely difficult to value.

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Many top AIG execs agree to return bonuses

NEW YORK (AP) _ Fifteen of the top 20 bonus recipients at American International Group Inc. have agreed to return their money following a firestorm of criticism and some arm-twisting from New York’s attorney general. In total, AIG employees have agreed to return about $50 million of the $165 million in bonuses awarded earlier this month by the troubled insurer, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office said Monday.

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News media chiefs: Finding new revenue a challenge

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Uncertainty about revenue and the form in which news and information will be delivered present key challenges for 21st century news media, according to a panel of industry leaders. Readers and listeners have not left journalism, said those participating Monday night in a forum on journalism and public policy at the National Press Club. However, the business model upon which newspapers have operated is obsolete, the industry leaders said.

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Obama nominates deputy at the Treasury Department

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Barack Obama has announced a deputy for Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner as the White House looks to add senior officials to help the government’s effort to aid the staggering economy. Obama on Monday announced Neal Wolin as deputy treasury secretary. The White House also announced that Lael Brainard would be the department’s top official for international affairs and that Stuart Levey would stay on as the top counter terrorism official.

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Gold Prices

LONDON (AP) _ Gold traded in London at $928.75 per troy ounce, down from $949.25 late Monday.

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Japan Markets

TOKYO (AP) _ The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average soared 272.22 points, or 3.3 percent, to 8,488.30.

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Dollar-Yen

TOKYO (AP) _ The dollar strengthened to 98.23 yen from 97.10 yen late Monday`.

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

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