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Showing posts from January 16, 2014

GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks slip as Wall St weighed by banks; dollar down vs yen, euro

A measure of global equity markets edged lower on Thursday, weighed by a decline on Wall Street following a slew of corporate earnings, while the dollar fell against rival currencies although the dip was viewed as temporary. On Wall Street, the S&P 500 pulled back from record levels following a round of disappointing earnings as financial stocks led the way lower. After a lackluster start to the new year on concerns stock valuations may be over-extended, the S&P 500 had rallied 1.6 percent in the prior two sessions to set its first record high since Dec. 31. "We've made a nice run and the market is entitled to consolidate and use sort of a 'wait-and-see' attitude as far as earnings are concerned," said Terry Morris, senior equity manager for National Penn Investors Trust Company in Reading, Pennsylvania. The MSCI all-country world index was down 0.1 percent at 406.65. The dollar fell against the euro and the yen, pressured by a data showing a jump

Time Warner to relocate New York headquarters to cut costs

Time Warner Inc will relocate its Manhattan corporate headquarters to the Hudson Yards development from Columbus Circle in a move to bring operations under one roof and cut costs, the company said on Thursday. _0"> The media conglomerate that includes HBO and Warner Bros said it sold the space it owns in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle for $1.3 billion to real estate company Related Companies, an entity owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and fund management company GIC. Time Warner will lease the office space at Columbus Circle until early 2019. Additionally, the media company made an undisclosed financial commitment to Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, the developers behind the Hudson Yards, to relocate all of its divisions including HBO and CNN to the west side of Manhattan. "By consolidating our space to Hudson Yards ... we will be able to reallocate substantial savings to our primary business," Jeff Bewkes, chief executi

UPDATE 2-UK to pay Veolia to destroy Syrian arms chemicals

Britain said on Thursday it will pay France's Veolia Environnement to incinerate 150 tonnes of Syrian poison gas precursors in northern England, the first deal for a private firm to help destroy Syria's chemical arms programme in the UK. Facing the threat of U.S. air strikes, the government of Bashar al-Assad last year promised to dismantle its chemical arsenal, telling the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) it had 1,300 tonnes of such weapons. Foreign powers have scrambled to find countries to destroy the chemicals. The most toxic are first to be processed on board a U.S. ship. Less dangerous precursor chemicals are to be destroyed commercially at industrial facilities. Britain agreed in December to destroy part of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile and to escort Scandinavian ships transporting the toxic cargo. The industrial-grade chemicals, which are of the type used routinely in the pharmaceutical industry, will be processed at Veolia's

UPDATE 3-J&J to sell slow-growing diagnostics unit to Carlyle

Johnson & Johnson said on Thursday it would sell its ortho clinical diagnostics unit to buyout firm Carlyle Group LP for $4.15 billion, shedding a slow-growing business to focus on more lucrative products. A major deal in the private equity world, the sale is small change for J&J, which has a market value of $267 billion and assets spanning pharmaceuticals, medical devices and consumer products. Analysts said the move highlighted J&J's determination not to waste resources on unloved divisions. "Now with this divestiture nearly complete, we're inclined to believe (J&J) will continue to strategically prune its business segments and use the proceeds to return cash to shareholders or invest in higher-growth assets," Leerink analyst Danielle Antalffy wrote in a note. J&J's diabetes business, which includes LifeScan blood glucose meters and Animas pumps, could be the next business to go, given slowing sales growth and weak margins, Antalffy said.

Mexico budget airline VivaAerobus files to go public

Mexican low-cost airline VivaAerobus filed a prospectus on Thursday to list shares on Mexico's stock exchange for the first time. _0"> The Monterrey-based group launched in 2006 and is a venture of Mexican transport company Grupo IAMSA and the family behind the Irish low-cost airline Ryanair. Vivaaerobus gave no details on when it hoped to offer the shares nor how many it would sell. The airline in October said it had ordered 52 Airbus A320-family jets worth $5.1 billion. Barclays, Banorte and HSBC are co-bookrunners on the deal.

UPDATE 1-Bank of England discussed currency rate-setting 18 months before probe

The Bank of England discussed with top London currency dealers their process for setting foreign exchange rates more than a year before a global investigation into alleged manipulation, according to a document provided to Reuters by the bank. The document, supplied in response to a freedom of information request for details of a meeting on April 23, 2012 of the chief dealers subgroup of the London Foreign Exchange Joint Standing Committee, said there was a brief discussion of "processes around fixes" - referring to the daily setting of benchmark exchange rates - and "extra levels of compliance". Two sources with knowledge of the meeting said the traders told the BoE about online chatroom use in the run-up to the daily rate-setting. It was not clear how much detail of this the traders provided at the meeting. The subgroup, set up for banks and brokers to discuss broad currency market issues, met at the London offices of French bank BNP Paribas. The time lag betw

U.S. judge rejects deal to end Detroit swap agreements

A U.S. bankruptcy judge on Thursday rejected a deal for Detroit to end costly interest-rate swap agreements with two investment banks, potentially eliminating a source of cash for the bankrupt city. _0"> Ending the swaps with UBS AG and Bank of America Corp's Merrill Lynch Capital Services for $165 million - a 43 percent discount - was a key component of Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr's plan to adjust the cash-strapped city's finances through the municipal bankruptcy process. Judge Steven Rhodes, who is overseeing the city's historic bankruptcy case, said Detroit was likely to succeed with some potential challenges to the validity of the swaps, which were used to hedge interest-rate risk for some of the $1.4 billion of pension debt the city sold in 2005 and 2006. He also said the $165 million payment to end the swaps was "too high a price to pay." Rhodes denied Detroit's plan to finance the swap termination through a $285 million loan wi

UPDATE 2-Canada loses patience on Keystone XL, tells U.S. to decide

Canada bluntly told the United States on Thursday to settle the fate of TransCanada Corp's proposed Keystone XL pipeline, saying the drawn-out process on whether to approve the northern leg of the project was taking too long. The hard-line comments by Foreign Minister John Baird were the clearest sign yet that Canada's Conservative government has lost patience over what it sees as U.S. foot-dragging. Baird also conceded that Washington might veto the project, the first admission of its kind by a Canadian government minister. The 1,200-mile (1,930-km) pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels a day from the Alberta tar sands in western Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast. Ottawa strongly backs Keystone XL, which it says would create jobs and provide a secure supply of oil to Canada's closest ally and trading partner. "The time for Keystone is now. I'll go further - the time for a decision on Keystone is now, even if it's not the right one. We can't continue in th

UPDATE 1-China's Nu Skin probe drags down Herbalife, USANA too

China's regulators launched probes into skincare products maker Nu Skin Enterprises Inc after local media questioned the U.S. company's business practices, dragging down shares of several retailers that use similar distribution models. Nu Skin shares shed a third of their market value by Thursday afternoon. Shares of nutritional supplements maker Herbalife Ltd fell 10 percent, while those of USANA Health Sciences were down 12 percent. Earlier Thursday, the Xinhua news agency said the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) ordered local authorities to investigate a report in Communist Party mouthpiece, the People's Daily, alleging Nu Skin had been exaggerating its influence and creditworthiness in brochures and organizing "brainwashing" gatherings. Short sellers and other critics have accused companies such as Herbalife, USANA and Nu Skin of running illegal pyramid-type schemes, questioning their distribution model where distributors make money

U.S. govt warns merchants on methods used by Target hackers

The U.S. government sent a confidential, 16-page technical bulletin to retailers and other merchants on Thursday that describes the malicious software and techniques used to attack Target Corp late last year. _0"> The report provides steps to identify the malicious software used by criminal hackers that went undetected by anti-virus software when it infected Target's network, according to Tiffany Jones, a senior vice president with the security intelligence firm iSIGHT Partners, which helped draft the document. "This report was generated so that we could get it into the hands of commercial entities so that they had information they needed to protect themselves," she told Reuters in an interview.

US STOCKS-Dow, S&P 500 ease as bank earnings disappoint

The Dow and S&P 500 dipped on Thursday, led by financial shares after a round of disappointing earnings from the sector. The S&P 500 pulled back from record levels and was nearly flat for the week. Financials were the biggest drag on the market after both Citigroup Inc and Goldman Sachs Group Inc reported quarterly profits hit by lower bond trading revenue, with Goldman's earnings falling 21 percent and Citigroup's missing expectations. The results followed fairly positive reads on the sector from JPMorgan Chase & Co, Bank of America Corp and Wells Fargo & Co. Goldman's stock slid 2.1 percent to $175.06, one of the Dow's biggest decliners, while Citigroup dropped 4.1 percent to $52.75. The S&P financial sector index fell 0.7 percent, making it the biggest loser among the S&P 500 sectors. Given last year's 30-percent gain for the S&P 500, the market doesn't need much of a catalyst for selling, said Uri Landesman, president of Pl

Suvretta cites big gains with J.C. Penney short, consumer stocks

Suvretta Capital Management, founded by a former portfolio manager for billionaire investors George Soros and Steven A. Cohen, told clients on Thursday that its bet against shares of J.C. Penney Company Inc. helped contribute to solid returns in the last two years. "On the short side, we have now generated profits three times (generating a total return of approximately 130 percent) in the past two years with our J.C. Penney positions," Suvretta Chief Investment Officer Aaron Cowen said in a client letter obtained by Reuters. Cowen, who was a former portfolio manager for Soros Fund Management and SAC Capital Advisors, said his $700 million-plus Suvretta Capital Management generated net returns of 8.9 percent for the fourth quarter and net returns of 26.3 percent for 2013. Soros Fund Management, which invests about $20 billion on his and his family's behalf, announced a large stake in J.C. Penney shares in early 2013 and began adding to its exposure as the year went on

UPDATE 1-Buyout firms bow out of German broadcaster ProsiebenSat.1

ProsiebenSat.1 shareholders KKR and Permira will sell on the open market the remaining 17 percent stake they hold jointly in the German broadcaster, completing a gradual exit. The two buyout firms will place the 36.3 million shares they own in ProSiebenSat.1 - worth 1.27 billion euros ($1.73 billion) at Thursday's closing price - in an accelerated bookbuilding process with institutional investors that will start immediately, KKR said in a statement late on Thursday. "The share sale is the logical last step in the exit of the former majority owners, which invested in the media company in 2006," KKR said in the statement. KKR and Permira at the time bought a controlling stake in ProSiebenSat.1 and merged it with SBS Broadcasting, a media group they had acquired a year earlier. Since then they have been disposing of their investment in stages. The shares have advanced 47 percent over the last 12 months, outperforming the 41 percent gain in the STOXX Europe 600 Media in

UPDATE 2-RCS Capital to buy broker-dealer Cetera for $1.15 billion

RCS Capital Corp on Thursday announced it would buy independent broker-dealer Cetera Financial Group from private equity firm Lightyear Capital LLC for about $1.15 billion in cash to expand its retail brokerage business. New York-based Lightyear Capital, which is run by former Paine Webber Group Inc Chief Executive Officer Donald Marron, created Cetera in 2010 when it acquired three ING broker-dealers. Over the years, Lightyear has continued to build Cetera through acquisitions. Just last year, it acquired two brokerage firms from MetLife Inc. Today the firm provides broker-dealer and advisory services to about 6,500 independent financial professionals as well as financial institutions. RCS, which has been an aggressive acquirer over the past few months, approached Lightyear several times last year about buying Cetera, Marron said. But it was not until right before Christmas that Lightyear took the offer seriously, he said. "They said Cetera's management would remain as

'Dallas Buyers Club': underdog film turned scrappy Oscar contender

"Dallas Buyers Club" is a film that prompts a discussion about money - not big Hollywood money, but rather the lack thereof. The scrappiest of the nine films nominated for a best picture Oscar on Thursday cost just $4 million to make - a speck on a Hollywood studio spreadsheet - and 25 days to film. But the real-life story of an unlikely activist in the fight against AIDS drew big talent, like Matthew McConaughey who plays the lead role of Ron Woodroof, Jared Leto as his transsexual side-kick, Rayon, and up-and-coming Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee. Co-producer Robbie Brenner, after earning her first Oscar nomination with the best picture nod, remembered how they were handicapped by the lack of money. "When we told Jean-Marc that he was going to have less days, he said 'I am going to get rid of the lights, I am going to shoot the movie without lights,'" she told Reuters after what she called "tears and screams" upon hearing Thursday's

T-Mobile can afford Macklemore concert after all

T-Mobile US Chief Executive John Legere appeared to go back on his own words on Thursday with the announcement of a plan to sponsor a concert by rapper Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. _0"> T-Mobile announced the Jan. 23 concert in Los Angeles just over a week after Legere said he was kicked out of a Macklemore concert hosted in Las Vegas by archrival AT&T Inc after he had crashed the event. The companies are in a full-scale battle to steal each other's customers after No. 2 U.S. mobile service AT&T on Jan. 3 offered to pay T-Mobile customers who switch to AT&T from the smaller carrier following months of direct marketing attacks from T-Mobile. Legere had said at his own company's press conference on Jan. 8 that T-Mobile would focus on giving his customers a better deal rather than charging more so it could afford to hold expensive high-profile events, like Macklemore concerts. "We didn't have a big concert with Macklemore the other night. I had t

UnitedHealth says quarterly profit rose, sees 2014 growth

UnitedHealth Group Inc said on Thursday implementing Obamacare and private Medicare funding cuts will eat into 2014 profit but the government-paid insurance business will drive growth as more people sign up. UnitedHealth, the largest U.S. health insurer, reported fourth-quarter profit a beat higher than analyst expectations, but its shares and those of major competitors fell anyway as investors focused on costs. "It's rare that United stock doesn't go down on earnings day," said Sheryl Skolnick, an analyst for CRT Capital. "I think what the Street did see was that the medical cost ratio was a bit higher than folks thought." The company said the medical cost ratio, which reflects the percentage of premiums paid out in claims to cover customer procedures and doctor visits, was "well controlled" and within expectations. It rose 1.1 percentage points in the quarter compared with a year earlier to 81.5 percent. UnitedHealth shares fell 2.5 percen

Consumer prices post largest gain in six months

U.S. consumer prices recorded their largest increase in six months in December as gasoline prices rebounded, but there was little to suggest a broader pick-up in prices with underlying inflation muted. _0"> The Labor Department said on Thursday its Consumer Price Index increased 0.3 percent after being flat in November. In the 12 months to December, consumer prices accelerated 1.5 percent after advancing 1.2 percent in November. The increases were in line with economists' expectations. Stripping out the volatile energy and food components, the so-called core CPI rose only 0.1 percent, slowing from a 0.2 percent gain in November. That left its increase over the past 12 months at 1.7 percent, where it has now been for four consecutive months. The Fed targets 2 percent inflation, although it tracks a gauge that tends to run a bit below CPI. The U.S. central bank has started reducing the pace of its monthly bond purchases, but persistently low inflation is expected to s

No reason for 'irrational inflationary fears' - ECB's Weidmann

The president of Germany's Bundesbank said on Thursday there was no reason for "irrational inflationary fears" and dismissed suggestions of a danger of the euro zone falling into deflation, echoing the European Central Bank's outlook. Jens Weidmann also urged France to live up to its function as a role model and show its peers how to restore economic competitiveness, saying it was decisive for the recovery of the whole the euro zone. A member of the ECB's governing council who tends to take a more hawkish view than many of his peers, Weidmann backed the ECB's expansionary policy stance citing subdued price and economic developments in the euro zone. His comments suggest that opinions on the council seem less divergent than for example last year, when Weidmann argued against aggressive interest rate cuts. More harmonized views within the council could bode well for policy decisions as the ECB considers further non-standard measures, having almost deplet

Euro zone inflation slows in December on one-off effect in Germany

Euro zone inflation slowed in December, the European Union's statistics office confirmed on Thursday, in what the European Central Bank attributed last week to a one-off change in the method of calculating price growth in Germany . Consumer prices in 17 countries sharing the euro last year rose 0.3 percent on the month, putting the annual inflation rate at 0.8 percent, down from 0.9 percent in November, but a tad above 0.7 percent in October. The ECB, which wants to keep inflation below, but close to 2 percent over the medium term, expects a prolonged period of low inflation but sees no immediate risk of deflation. "We were all aware that the decline in the inflation rate in December ... first of all was expected, and it was caused by a technical adjustment in the statistics of the services inflation in Germany," ECB President Mario Draghi said last week. "(This) basically produced a much flatter seasonal adjustment and it meant that the December data came out

Ford recalling 46,000 Edge SUVs over fuel leak

Ford Motor Co ( id="symbol_F.N_0"> F.N ) is recalling about 46,000 Edge SUVs from the 2012 and 2013 model years on a fuel system leak that could lead to a fire, the company and U.S. regulators said. _0"> The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported the recall on Wednesday. Ford said on Thursday that no crashes or injuries related to the incident have been reported. There are 27,800 Edge SUVs to be recalled in the United States, 13,500 in the Asia Pacific region, 3,400 in Canada and about 900 spread around the world. They are from the 2012 and 2013 model years and have 2.0-liter engines. "The fuel line pulse damper metal housing may crack as a result of an improper manufacturing process," according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This could cause a leak, which in turn could cause a fire if there is an ignition source, NHTSA said. Ford said it is also recalling about 400 Explorer SUVs that may have

Exclusive: Tyson weighs $2 billion-plus deal for Michael Foods - sources

Tyson Foods Inc ( id="symbol_TSN.N_0"> TSN.N ) is exploring a bid for Michael Foods Group Inc, a deal that would combine one of the world's largest chicken processors with a large distributor of egg and dairy products, according to three people familiar with the matter. A potential deal for Michael Foods, which is seen worth between $2 billion and $2.5 billion according to the people, would place Tyson, the nation's largest meat producer, into an adjacent category within poultry and protein. Michael Foods, the egg and dairy products producer owned by Goldman Sachs Group Inc's ( id="symbol_GS.N_1"> GS.N ) private equity unit, is in the early stages of finding a buyer, and Tyson may ultimately choose not to move forward with an offer, the people cautioned. Michael Foods is working with Goldman Sachs' investment banking unit and Bank of America Merrill Lynch ( id="symbol_BAC.N_2"> BAC.N ) on a potential sale, Reuters reported in

Exclusive: Dubai Group signs $10 billion debt restructuring deal - sources

Dubai Group has signed a $10 billion debt restructuring deal, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, marking the end of a perilous period which saw the emirate risk collapse under a mountain of debt obligations. The unit of Dubai Holding DUBAH.UL, the investment vehicle of Dubai's ruler, was one of a number of state-linked entities which borrowed heavily from banks to fund an acquisitions spree during the boom years of 2006-08. But as credit markets dried up following the global financial crisis and a local real estate bubble burst, they found themselves unable to manage their obligations and were forced to renegotiate tens of billions of dollars of debt. Dubai Group finally brought an end to more than three years of negotiations about its debt pile when it signed the restructuring deal on Wednesday, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the information is not public. Its lenders, which include France's Natixis ( id="symbol_CNAT.PA_1

Bombardier CSeries jet delayed by at least nine months

Bombardier Inc ( id="symbol_BBDb.TO_0"> BBDb.TO ) warned on Thursday it will delay putting its new CSeries jet into commercial use until the last half of 2015, a major setback in its plan to challenge Airbus Group NV ( id="symbol_AIR.PA AIR.PA ) and Boeing Co ( id="symbol_BA.N BA.N ) in the narrow body aircraft market. _1"> A longer-than-expected test phase was the cause for the nine-month delay of the smaller CS100 jet, Bombardier said on Thursday. The news sent shares down more than 6 percent to their lowest level since early May. _2"> The Montreal-based planemaker now sees the larger CS300's entry-into-service about six months after the CS100. The highly anticipated CSeries is built using lightweight composite materials and other technologies designed to make them burn less fuel and lower operating costs for airlines. But at least one airline that has signed up as an early customer said it was talking to Bombardier about the consequen

Citi profit disappoints as bond trading revenue drops

Citigroup Inc posted weaker-than-expected quarterly results on Thursday, as lackluster bond-trading results weighed on overall revenue. The third-largest U.S. bank said its fixed-income revenue fell 15 percent to $2.33 billion in the fourth quarter from the same quarter last year, in what it called a "challenging trading environment." The bond trading results lagged rivals' including Bank of America Corp and JPMorgan Chase & Co. The bank still posted rising profit, helped by cost-cutting, but the size of the decline in bond trading revenue surprised many analysts. Much of the drop came from falling client activity in corporate bonds and secured debt, said Jon Gerspach, chief financial officer, on a conference call with reporters. Rising bond yields have cut into demand for issuing and trading corporate debt. "We just saw a fall-off in client volumes," Gerspach said. When asked if there was any explanation, he responded, "No, it's just what we s

Exclusive: SEC may seek more power to enforce Volcker rule

U.S. securities regulators fear they do not have the full range of enforcement powers to police Wall Street's compliance with the controversial Volcker rule, and told Reuters they are considering new rules to fill the gap. Officials at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission say the rule, which generally bans banks from making speculative bets with their own money, does not currently allow the agency to police brokerages for technical violations. While such violations may seem minor, those types of enforcement actions are an important part of the SEC's mission, and they can deter or prevent more egregious behavior and send markets a strong regulatory warning. "If we want to sanction a firm for not keeping the records or documents they are required to keep or provide reports to us in the form (it is) required, we need to take further action," John Ramsay, acting director of the Trading and Markets Division at the Securities and Exchange Commission, told Reuter

World economy on recovery road, but weak inflation threatens: Reuters poll

A much better year lies in store for most of the world's major developed economies, although weak inflation will persist, complicating central banks' ability to get interest rates back to normal, Reuters polls forecast on Thursday. As in the last few years, the United States looks set to the lead the way, with growth also quickening in Britain and Germany . However, Japan looks set to disappoint and the euro zone will probably lag again compared with its Western peers. Emerging markets again look a mixed bag. Perhaps the main difference this year is that forecasts from the 300 or so economists polled across the world over the last week at least suggest little prospect of a return to recession in the euro zone , the world's largest trading bloc. Overall, the poll showed the world economy will grow 3.6 percent this year compared with 2.9 percent in 2013. That would snap a three-year stretch of slowing global growth since the world economy first rebounded from the seve

Carlos Slim consolidates stakes in Telekom Austria

Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim has agreed to consolidate his company and family stakes in Telekom Austria, clarifying his position in the eyes of regulators that monitor when stakeholdings become large enough to trigger takeover bids. Slim's America Movil will own 26.8 percent of Telekom Austria after buying a 3.14 percent stake from a family foundation, enough to veto big decisions at the Austrian firm but below the 30-percent mandatory takeover offer threshold. Telekom Austria shares, which have been buoyed by speculation that Slim will eventually try to take over the rest of the company, closed up 1.3 percent at 6.60 euros on Thursday, the top gainers in Europe's telecoms index. Carso Telecom B.V., America Movil's European holding company, will in future hold the entire 26.8 percent stake that was previously split with the family foundation. The Austrian government owns 28 percent of the former state telecoms provider and has said it is committed to maintainin

Best Buy shares tumble on weak holiday sales, margin forecast

Best Buy Co ( id="symbol_BBY.N_0"> BBY.N ) shares tumbled about 30 percent on Thursday after the world's largest consumer electronics chain reported disappointing holiday sales and warned of a bigger-than-expected decline in quarterly operating margins. The company blamed intense discounting by rivals, tight supplies of phones and high-end tablets industrywide, and weak traffic in December. The news, which knocked off almost $4 billion of Best Buy's market value, was the latest evidence that holiday sales at many chains came at the expense of profit. "It just seems that the promotions did not drive incremental sales, that opening on Thanksgiving just added costs," Janney Capital Markets analyst David Strasser said. Adding to the pressure on Best Buy, he said, was the "promotional cadence of troubled retailers" like Sears ( id="symbol_SHLD.O_1"> SHLD.O ), Toys R Us Inc and smaller electronics chains. Best Buy cut prices sharpl

U.S. Treasury to reduce stake in auto lender Ally

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday announced plans to sell 410,000 shares in auto lender Ally Financial as part of its effort to unwind its financial bailout fund. _0"> The Treasury said it expected taxpayers to recover about $3 billion from the private offering of Ally common stock at $7,375 per share. The sale would reduce the government's stake to 37 percent, it said. The government pumped $17.2 billion into Ally during the 2007-2009 financial crisis, and the Treasury said taxpayers will have recovered about $15.3 billion once the stock sale was complete. The offering could also leave the Treasury just a few billion short on the investments it made to prop up lenders, automakers and the housing sector from its crisis-era $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Private market investors appear to be optimistic about Ally's prospects. Ally sold $1.3 billion in unlisted shares to private investors in November for an average price of around $6,000 per shar

Target agrees to testify on Capitol Hill about data breach

Target Corp has agreed to testify before Congress in early February about a data breach that compromised credit and debit card and personal data of millions of customers, a House of Representatives subcommittee said on Thursday. Representative Lee Terry, who chairs the commerce, manufacturing and trade subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said in a statement that a hearing conducted by his panel would examine such data breaches and their effect on consumers. The subcommittee said it expects to take testimony from law enforcement officials and others, in addition to one or more representatives of Target, the third largest U.S. retailer. Target has said a breach of its networks during the busy holiday shopping period resulted in the theft of about 40 million credit and debit card records and 70 million other records with customer information such as addresses and telephone numbers. "By examining these recent breaches and their consequences on consumers,

U.S. data points to firming labor market, inflation tame

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell for the second consecutive week last week, suggesting a sharp step-down in job growth in December was likely to be temporary. The better labor market tone was also captured by a survey on Thursday showing an acceleration in manufacturing activity in the Mid-Atlantic region, accompanied by a rise in factory jobs. "We view the tepid December payroll gain as an aberration and expect job creation to look stronger in January," said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics in New York. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 326,000, the Labor Department said. That compared to economists' expectations for a fall to 328,000. Job growth slowed sharply in December, with employers adding only 74,000 new positions. Nonfarm payrolls increased 241,000 in November and the retreat last month was blamed on cold weather. In a separate report, the Philadelphia