August 29, 2008

Merrill to Sell Troubled Assets



Merrill to sell troubled assets: Merrill Lynch & Co., in a broad move to clean up its troubled balance sheet, said Monday it will sell a big slice of its asset-backed securities and issue new stock to raise $8.5 billion of fresh capital. The world's largest brokerage, struggling to right itself as the credit crisis continues, said it will issue more than 200 million new common shares as part of the deal. Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings agreed to boost its stake by acquiring another $3.4 billion stake, while Merrill's management plans to buy 750,000 shares.


Amgen 2Q profit falls on restructuring: Amgen Inc.'s second- quarter profit slipped 7.6 percent as a series of restructuring and other charges further stunted a second quarter already hit by a continued decline in anemia drug sales. But the results topped Wall Street forecasts after excluding the charges. The stock reached its highest point in more than a year Monday, buoyed by positive study results on the company's next possible blockbuster, the osteoporosis drug denosumab.


Oil rises on Nigerian attack, Iran worries: Oil prices rose Monday, approaching $125 a barrel after militants sabotaged two oil pipelines in Nigeria and Iran claimed that it had doubled the size of its nuclear program but signaled a willingness to work with the U.S. Light, sweet crude for September delivery rose $1.47 to settle at $124.73 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after earlier rising as high as $125.22 a barrel. The gains, however, were tempered by more evidence that high gas prices are causing Americans to keep their cars off the roads.

Report says BP plant in danger of accident: Life-threatening safety violations continue to plague a Texas City BP refinery, leaving it susceptible to another major accident like the one in 2005 that killed 15 people, according to a report released Monday. The report was prepared on behalf of blast victims who object to a federal criminal plea deal with London-based BP PLC related to the accident. Engineer Mike Sawyer's report criticized BP for not conducting a detailed audit of the refinery, not making widespread improvements at the facility and for the plant's safety record since the blast, which includes three more worker deaths and several fires and chemical releases.


Rates mixed at weekly Treasury auction: Interest rates on short- term Treasury bills were mixed in Monday's auction with three-month bills rising while rates on six-month bills dropped to the lowest level since mid-May. The Treasury Department auctioned $24 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 1.695 percent, up from 1.520 percent last week. Another $23 billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 1.880 percent, down from 1.920 percent last week. The three-month rate was the highest since three- month bills averaged 1.865 percent three weeks ago. The six-month rate was the lowest since these bills averaged 1.850 percent on May 12. Separately, the Federal Reserve said Monday that the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable rate mortgages, rose to 2.33 percent last week from 2.21 percent the previous week.


Verizon 2Q profit beats expectations: Verizon Communications Inc.'s second-quarter earnings rose 12 percent, the company said Monday, while revenue was slightly shy of expectations and customers disconnected their landlines faster than before. The nation's second- largest telecommunications company earned $1.88 billion, or 66 cents per share, in the quarter ended June 30, up from $1.68 billion, or 58 cents per share, a year ago. Verizon said that excluding a merger- related item, it earned 67 cents a share, beating the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Financial by 2 cents.

-- Associated Press

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