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Intel Looking For A Flash Fix; Inflation Spoils Russia's Bond Sale; Wal-Mart Beats February Estimates; Foreclosures Hit Record High in Fourth Quarter; Drug Contaminant Linked to Chinese Production; Citigroup Did Not Court Dubai Fund; Oil Flirts with $106; More Power for South Africa Mines
- Facing a lowered outlook, Intel Corp.'s (INTC) Chief Executive Office vowed to fix his company's NAND flash business in the faces of declining prices, . "This business will not be a drag on Intel Corporation," Otellini said to investors at the company's Santa Clara, Calif. headquarters. "We're going to fix it, or we're going to make sure it's profitable, one way or another." Intel lowered its gross profit margin from 56% of revenues to 54% – plus or minus a percentage point – for the first quarter.
- Russia's government canceled a $1.05 billion (25 billion ruble) bond sale because of a lack of demand, cramping the Finance Minstry's plans to raise $15.7 billion (374 billion rubles) by selling bonds this year. And inflation is to blame. Government bonds yield 6.7% annually, but consumer prices rose at an annual rate of 12.7%, Bloomberg reported.
- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), the world's largest retailer, said its February sales beat its own forecast, rising 2.6% during the month Bloomberg reported. The company was anticipating a 2% increase at best, and Wall Street analysts had, on average, been predicting a 1.1% rise. U.S. retailers' same-store sales climbed 1.9% last month, based on the results of 39 chains, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.
- Home foreclosures soared to an all-time high in the final quarter of last year, the . The Mortgage Bankers Association said in a quarterly snapshot of the mortgage market that the proportion of all mortgages nationwide that fell into foreclosure shot up to a record high of 0.83% in the fourth quarter. That surpassed the previous high of 0.78% set in the third quarter of 2007.
- Federal drug regulators said Wednesday that a critical blood thinner linked to at least 19 deaths and whose raw components were produced in China contained a possibly counterfeit ingredient that mimicked the real drug, the New York Times reported. Routine tests failed to distinguish the contaminant from the real drug, heparin. However, magnetic resonance imaging tests revealed that as much as 20% of the product's active ingredient was a heparin fake blended in with the real thing. Federal officials said they did not know what the contaminant was.
- Citigroup Inc. (C) did not approach Dubai International Capital seeking capital, representatives of the Dubai sovereign wealth fund confirmed yesterday (Thursday). Earlier in the week, comments from the fund's Chief Executive Samir al-Ansari stating Citigroup would need to solicit additional cash investments led to speculation that the beleaguered bank had approached the fund as a possible investor.
- Crude oil reached a new high of $105.97 a barrel in New York yesterday (Thursday), Bloomberg News reported, as the dollar continued to weaken against the dollar. Energy and metal prices continue to increase as investors seek inflation-sensitive investments. "The oil market has completely left the realm of supply and demand," Sarah Emerson, managing director of Energy Security Analysis Inc., a consulting firm in Wakefield, Massachusetts, told Bloomberg. "Commodities have become just one more asset class for pension funds."
- South African Mining Minister Buyelwa Sonjica promised to increase power supplies to mining companies, causing gold and platinum prices to ease. Mining companies in South Africa will receive a 5% increase in power, allowing them to operate at 95% capacity. The power shortages are a result of a delay in governmental approval of expansion plans for state-controlled utility Eskom Holdings Ltd. (OTC:ESKAY), Bloomberg News reported.