- Late payments on subprime mortgages that are used in credit indexes rose more slowly in February, according to research reports from firms such as Barclays Capital and Bear Stearns(BSC). The reports suggested the deterioration may be over for the performance of home loans backing bonds in two of three so-called ABX indexes.
- US Treasuries pared gains and declined after Fed Chairman Bernanke told Congress’ Joint Economic Committee that the economy “appears likely to continue to expand at a moderate pace over coming quarters.” Bernanke said the effects of subprime mortgages on the housing market will be moderate.
- Crude oil rose to a six-month high as investment funds speculate tensions with Iran will escalate.
- Prime Minister Tony Blair stepped up a diplomatic push on Iran to release 15 UK sailors and Marines held six days ago, asking for help from allies and saying Britain’s boats were 1.7 miles insides Iraqi waters when the raid occurred.
- AMR Corp.’s(AMR) American Airlines, the world’s largest carrier, will buy 47 Boeing Co.(BA) 737 jets four years earlier than planned to begin replacing some of its oldest planes.
- President Bush attacked the Senate’s $122 billion Iraq war-spending bill, which calls for a troop withdrawal, and said he will hold Democrats responsible if they delay funding military operations. “The clock is ticking for our troops in the field,” Bush said. Money for US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan begins running out in mid-April.
Wall Street Journal:
- The SEC will from now on exercise more influence over the Financial Accounting Standards Board, a private body that sets accounting rules for public and private companies.
- Best Buy’s(BBY) chief information officer, Robert Willet, said most of the retailer’s merchandise will be tagged with radio-frequency identification chips, or RFID, to permit remote monitoring of inventory.
- Microsoft Corp.(MSFT) is in talks to acquire DoubleClick Inc.(DCLK), the Internet advertising firm owned by private-equity firm Hellman & Friedman LLC.
- Burger King Holdings(BKC) will buy some pork from suppliers who raise uncrated hogs and chickens in order to stay ahead of consumer trends and push farmers into humane practices.
- Wal-Mart Stores(WMT) might never open a store in NYC, CEO Lee Scott Jr. said. At a meeting with the newspaper’s editorial board, Scott said the high cost of conducting business in NYC and the opposition the discount chain has faced makes it less likely Manhattan will have a Wal-Mart.
- A game in which teenagers suffocate themselves to the point of unconsciousness to achieve a high, which has killed several children, is drawing scrutiny by healthy officials, educators and parents. While asphyxiation games aren’t new, the so-called choking game, is getting more attention after several well-publicized deaths in the US, couples with a realization that teenagers are seeing the game on Internet sites like YouTube, and playing it in more threatening variations.
- Initial bids for NBTY(NTI), a nutritional supplement company with a $3.3 billion market value, are due in early April.
- US investors in Canadian income trusts may pay twice as much tax on the dividends they receive under a proposed tax change. A bill filed in the US House of Representatives by Democratic Congressman Richard E. Neal would remove a special tax treatment for dividends from foreign investments such as Canadian income and real estate trusts.
- The Transportation Security Administration plans to more closely screen airport workers in a so-called “surge” strategy to increase safety at airports across the country.
- The Sacramento Country, California, Sheriff’s Dept. will hold an auction April 17 for the rights to OJ Simpson’s book, in which the former star football player tells how he would have murdered his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.
- Former Home Depot CEO Nardelli has been offered a position with hedge fund manager Cerberus Capital Management.
- Economic statistics that show a booming Asian economy may demonstrate that investing in the region is a slightly risky bet that the world economy will stay healthy. Domestic consumption in the region is unexceptional, and the economies are very dependent on foreign demand.