- The Washington Times - Monday, March 30, 2009

The top business news from The Associated Press for the morning of Monday, March 30, 2009:

White House questions viability of GM, Chrysler

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Neither General Motors nor Chrysler submitted acceptable plans to receive more federal bailout money, the Obama administration said as it set the stage for a crisis in Detroit that would dramatically reshape the nation’s auto industry. The White House pushed out GM’s chairman and directed Chrysler to move quickly to forge a partnership with Fiat if it expects to receive additional government assistance.

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GM CEO Wagoner forced out as part of gov’t plan



DETROIT (AP) _ Time and time again, General Motors Corp.’s board of directors reaffirmed its support for Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, even as the company piled up billions of dollars in losses and begged for government loans to stay alive. But Wagoner is now a high-profile casualty of government intervention, forced out as part of the Obama administration’s sweeping last-ditch effort to save the century-old auto giant.

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Sources: Obama to give GM 2 months to restructure

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The White House forced the resignation of General Motors’ top executive Sunday, on the eve of announcing new aid and a 60-day deadline for the ailing auto giant to restructure. Chrysler LLC will get up to $6 billion and 30 days to complete an alliance with Italian automaker Fiat SpA. Two people familiar with the plan said Sunday it will demand further sacrifices from the automakers and bankruptcy would still be possible if the automakers failed to restructure. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make details public.

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Top French carmaker ousts CEO Christian Streiff

PARIS (AP) _ France’s biggest carmaker, PSA Peugeot-Citroen, ousted CEO Christian Streiff on Sunday, saying “exceptional difficulties” confronting the auto industry require new management at the top. Philippe Varin is being brought in from outside the company June 1 to replace Streiff, the company said in a statement. Roland Vardanega, a member of the three-man board of directors at the car company, will preside over the company until then.

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Asian stocks tumble on auto, bank concerns

BANGKOK (AP) _ Asian stock markets tumbled Monday as downbeat comments from major U.S. banks and mounting woes at American auto giants underlined that recent optimism about economic recovery might be premature. Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average sank 373.53 points, or 4.3 percent, to 8,253.44, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 427.51, or 3 percent, to 13,691.99. South Korea’s benchmark was down 3.1 percent while markets in Singapore, Australia and Thailand fell about 2 percent or more.

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Oil slides below $52 in Asia on profit-taking

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ Oil prices tumbled Monday to below $52 a barrel as investors cashed in on recent gains, and in tandem with a pullback on Wall Street Friday. Benchmark crude for May delivery fell $1.03 to $51.35 by midday in Asian electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped $1.96 to settle at $52.38 on Friday.

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Obama envoy: Time to act on climate change

BONN, Germany (AP) _ Once booed at international climate talks, the United States won sustained applause Sunday when President Barack Obama’s envoy pledged to “make up for lost time” in reaching a global agreement on climate change. Todd Stern also praised efforts by countries like China to reign in their carbon emissions, but said global warming “requires a global response” and that rapidly developing economies like China “must join together” with the industrial world to solve the problem.

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Toy, luxury stores eye Christmas 2009 with caution

NEW YORK (AP) _ Shoppers may be thinking about spring, but some retailers are reluctantly setting their sights on Christmas. Still suffering whiplash from the worst holiday selling season in at least four decades, major toy sellers and upscale merchants _ who must order Christmas stock earlier than most retailers _ are exercising extreme caution as they plan for the rest of the year.

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Ethnic press stung by recession, advertising drop

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ The sinking economy is threatening the ethnic publications that immigrant communities rely upon to stay informed and navigate American life. Although the ethnic press once seemed immune to the forces hurting mainstream newspapers across the country, a growing number of publications that serve immigrant and minority communities are laying off staff, closing print editions or shutting down altogether.

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Smoke break gets more expensive with tax boost

WASHINGTON (AP) _ However they satisfy their nicotine cravings, tobacco users are facing a big hit as the single largest federal tobacco tax increase ever takes effect Wednesday. Tobacco companies and public health advocates, longtime foes in the nicotine battles, are trying to turn the situation to their advantage. The major cigarette makers raised prices a couple of weeks ago, partly to offset any drop in profits once the per-pack tax climbs from 39 cents to $1.01.

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‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ hurtles to $58.2M debut

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Movie beasts from old-time Hollywood got a makeover as heroes and conquered the weekend box office. DreamWorks Animation’s action comedy “Monsters vs. Aliens,” which features creatures from 1950s flicks in a showdown with invading extraterrestrials, launched itself into the No. 1 spot with a $58.2 million debut, according to studio estimates Sunday.

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Tax havens eye uncertain future after concessions

VADUZ, Liechtenstein (AP) _ “Who pays?” asks a neon artwork in wealthy Liechtenstein’s elegant black granite cube of a museum. That question is of more than artistic interest to the family that rules the tiny principality and their 35,000 subjects. Prince Alois agreed earlier this month to start following the rules set down by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Europe aimed at curbing tax havens _ like his scenic patch of mountain valley between Switzerland and Austria, which owes much of its prosperity to its role as a place to put money.

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Obama seeks to rein in Wall Street, broaden agenda

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are stepping through an economic minefield and sowing the ground with unprecedented initiatives that capitalize on the recession to rein in Wall Street and broaden government’s reach. Nothing better illustrated this watershed than the bustle and scope of the past few days.

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How 4 families try to recover from foreclosure

You’ve heard about the bad mortgages, about sad struggles with insolvency, about the wave of foreclosures that has crashed over America. But what happens next? Every day, thousands of Americans begin their lives again after they are ejected from their homes.

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Hard times mean new opportunities for Big Oil

HOUSTON (AP) _ Plunging crude prices have begun to play out in favor of Western oil companies in one regard, giving them leverage with oil-rich countries that only months ago had no reason to compromise. Countries like Venezuela, Libya and Russia have kept a tight grip on their vast oil reserves in recent years as crude prices soared above $100 per barrel, translating into big revenues. Much of that money, rather than going back into the oil industry, was spent on unrelated political and social programs.

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Japan Markets

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan stocks tumbled Monday, hit by mounting concerns about the future of the U.S. auto industry.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average lost 390.89 points, or 4.5 percent, to 8,236.08. The broader Topix index fell 4.2 percent to 789.54.

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Dollar-Yen

TOKYO (AP) _ The dollar weakened to 96.70 yen Monday from 97.84 late Friday.

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

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