Business Highlights

AP News
Posted: Nov 11, 2009 5:57 PM

AIG's Benmosche tells employees he plans to remain

NEW YORK (AP) _ American International Group Inc.'s CEO Robert Benmosche said Wednesday he plans to stay in his job at the embattled insurer.

Benmosche announced his intentions in a letter to employees released by AIG following a report in The Wall Street Journal saying he was threatening to quit. The Journal said Benmosche has been frustrated by heavy government scrutiny and cumbersome restrictions on executive pay.

AIG is in the process of trying to sell assets, streamline its operations and improve profitability in an effort to repay the government after being bailed out last fall at the peak of the credit crisis.


Geithner encouraged by moves in Japan, China

TOKYO (AP) _ Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Wednesday he's encouraged by efforts in Japan and China to spur domestic demand instead of relying so heavily on American consumers _ a shift that will contribute to more stable global growth.

Geithner said he sees broad recognition among governments to create policies that will lead to more balanced, sustainable growth and avoid the kind of dangerous imbalances that contributed to the world recession.

Economic cooperation is expected to be a key agenda item during President Barack Obama's visit to Tokyo on Friday and Saturday that will also address security and climate change. Japan is Obama's first stop on an Asian tour that will take him to China and South Korea next week after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Singapore this weekend.


Stocks rise as traders bet on low rates, China

NEW YORK (AP) _ More signs that interest rates will remain low and upbeat economic news from China gave investors more reason to keep buying stocks Wednesday.

Federal Reserve officials signaled in speeches late Tuesday that a recovery in the economy is likely to be weak. Investors took that as another sign that policymakers will hold interest rates low to help resuscitate growth. The Dow rose 44.29, or 0.4 percent, to 10,291.26.

Expectations of low rates weighed on the dollar and gave a boost to commodities. Oil and gold held their advances even after the dollar pulled off of a 15-month low.


Hewlett Packard to buy 3Com for $2.7B

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) _ Hewlett-Packard Co., looking to expand into a business long dominated by Cisco, said Wednesday it has agreed to buy networking software and equipment maker 3Com Corp. in a deal the companies valued at $2.7 billion.

HP also issued a preliminary report Wednesday for the three months that ended in October, saying it earned 99 cents per share, compared with 84 cents in the year-ago period.

After adjusting for restructuring and other one-time items, HP said it earned $1.14 per share. Revenue fell 8 percent from the same period a year ago, to $30.8 billion. By both measures, HP did better than Wall Street was expecting, according to a Thomson Reuters poll.


Macy's posts smaller 3Q loss, raises outlook

NEW YORK (AP) _ Macy's Inc.'s third-quarter loss shrunk as tight inventory controls and a move to localize merchandise at its department stores by region paid off. The company also raised its full-year profit and sales outlook.

The profit outlook, including a tempered forecast for the fourth quarter, didn't go as high as analysts expected, and shares fell $1.57, or more than 8 percent, to close at $17.86.

Some of Macy's best-performing districts were the original test beds for the locally tailored merchandise. Other bright spots were its growing Internet business and rebounding sales performance at Bloomingdale's, another sign that affluent shoppers are slowly going back to shopping after a sudden retreat last fall.


Drug industry presses FDA to allow more online ads

WASHINGTON (AP) _ As federal regulators take their first tentative steps toward policing the wild west of medical information online, pharmaceutical companies are pressing their case to market drugs via Google, Twitter and other Web sites.

The Food and Drug Administration will convene a two-day meeting beginning Thursday to hear the drug industry's position on Internet marketing. The agency has agreed to consider developing rules for online advertising after companies complained that the current guidelines for traditional media _ which require a detailed list of possible side effects _ have left them hamstrung on the Web.

An estimated 83 percent of Internet users search for health information online, according to a recent survey from the Pew Research Center.


Key China indicators show economic comeback

BEIJING (AP) _ The slump in China's exports eased last month and several other key indicators showed improvement Wednesday, fresh evidence that recovery in the world's third-largest economy was firmly on track.

Exports fell 13.8 percent in October to $110.8 billion from the same month last year, the smallest decrease in 10 months, according to government figures released Wednesday. Imports dropped by 6.4 percent to $86.8 billion over the same period, a slightly faster pace than in September.

Industrial output and retail sales also rose sharply over the previous year, further signs that sluggish growth might be picking up.


Oil settles near $78 as China's economy rebounds

NEW YORK (AP) _ Oil prices ticked higher Wednesday as OPEC said the world would consume more crude in 2010 than previously expected, and China said its economy improved.

Benchmark crude for December delivery added 23 cents to settle at $79.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude for December delivery rose 45 cents to settle at $77.95 on the ICE Futures exchange.

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The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries revised its previous estimates for global oil demand growth to 750,000 barrels per day, up 50,000 barrels a day from last month's estimate.


Report: 10 states face looming budget disasters

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ In Arizona, the budget has grown so gloomy that lawmakers are considering mortgaging Capitol buildings. In Michigan, state officials dealing with the nation's highest unemployment rate are slashing spending on schools and health care.

Drastic financial remedies are no longer limited to California, where a historic budget crisis earlier this year grew so bad that state agencies issued IOUs to pay bills.

A study released Wednesday warned that at least nine other big states are also barreling toward economic disaster, raising the likelihood of higher taxes, more government layoffs and deep cuts in services.


Gold keeps on surging, hits new high of $1,119

NEW YORK (AP) _ The price of gold surged to a fresh high Wednesday as the dollar fell to a 15-month low.

Gold futures for December delivery jumped to as high as $1,119.10 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange in morning trading, then slipped back to settle at $1,114.60, up $12.10 from Tuesday's close.

Commodities including gold have been rising as the dollar has dropped. Gold's latest advance came as the dollar fell after Federal Reserve officials reiterated that the central bank will keep interest rates low for an extended period to support the economic recovery.

By The Associated Press

The Dow rose 44.29, or 0.4 percent, to 10,291.26. It rose as high as 10,341.97, its best level since Oct. 3, 2008.

The Dow is up 519 points, or 5.3 percent in six days. That's the longest stretch of gains since an eight-day advance in late August.

The S&P 500 index rose 5.50, or 0.5 percent, to 1,098.51 and topped 1,100 for the first time since last year. It hit a 13-month high of 1,105.37 _ also its best level since Oct. 3 last year. The Nasdaq composite index rose 15.82, or 0.7 percent, to 2,166.90.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 5.78, or 1 percent, to 592.71.

Benchmark crude for December delivery added 23 cents to settle at $79.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In London, Brent crude for December delivery rose 45 cents to settle at $77.95 on the ICE Futures exchange.

In other Nymex trading, heating oil rose by less than a penny to settle at $2.0558 a gallon. Gasoline for December delivery added 1.53 cents to settle at $1.9927 a gallon. Natural gas for December delivery increased by 3.6 cents to settle at $4.503 per 1,000 cubic feet.