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Merrill: No More Capital Needed; German Bank Bayerische posts $6.7 Write-Down; Gas Prices Extend Record Run; Google Cuts 300 Jobs at DoubleClick; Silver Wheaton Triples Reserves; Northwest Loads Increase; Valero Completes Repairs; Consumer Debt Creeps Higher
- Merrill Lynch & Co. (MER) Chief Executive Officer John Thain said the financial firm doesn't need to raise more capital. "We have plenty of capital going forward and we don't need to come back into the equity market," Thain told Japan's Nikkei news service. He also said he doesn't have plans to sell or merge the company.
- German bank Bayerische Landesbank reported $6.7 billion in write-down from the subprime collapse, twice the amount of its previous estimate. Bayerische is the second-biggest state bank also said it fired Chief Risk Officer Gerhard Gribkowsky. "(It) still isn't in the clear, but the risk shield will free up capital," Dieter Hein, an analyst at Fairesearch GmbH & Co. in Frankfurt, told Bloomberg. "The Bavarians have deep pockets and won't let the bank collapse."
- Gasoline prices extended their record run at the pump yesterday (Thursday), as the national average price of a gallon of gas rose 0.2 cent overnight to $3.289 a gallon, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. The Energy Department expects gas prices to peak near $3.50 a gallon later in the spring. Many analysts think prices could rise as high as $3.75 or $4.
- Google Inc. (GOOG) has begun layoffs and other realignments at its DoubleClick unit, according to a media report on Wednesday. About 300 of the online advertising company's 1,200 employees in the United States were laid off or placed in transitional roles today, Bloomberg reported on its Web site.
- Silver Wheaton Corp. (SLW) said yesterday (Thursday) its proven and probable silver reserves as of December. The Canada-based mining company said the growth was driven by the acquisition of 25% of the life of mine silver production from the Penasquito Project in Mexico, and 100% of the life of mine silver production from the Stratoni Mine in Greece.
- Northwest Airlines Corp. (NWA) announced yesterday (Thursday) its March load factor increased to 87% from 85.7% during the same month the year prior, Thomson Financial reported. Traffic at the Eagan, Minn.-based carrier increased 2% to 7.16 billion revenue passenger miles, while capacity grew 0.6% to 8.24 billion available seat miles. The company's stock was down 19 cents, a decline of 2%, to close at $9.21.
- Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) has completed repairs on its gasoline-making fluid catalytic cracking unit at its 210,000-barrel-per-day Delaware City, Delaware, refinery, Reuters reported. Repairs that were scheduled to be completed in early April at Valero's 275,000 bpd Aruba refinery are still ongoing, a company spokesman announced yesterday (Thursday).
- The American Bankers Association reported that consumer loans at least 30 days past due increased across all categories of loans tracked, which include auto, credit card and home-equity loans. "It's an indication of the degree of stress consumers are facing right now," Nigel Gault, director of U.S. research at Lexington, Massachusetts-based Global Insight Inc., told Bloomberg News. "People overextended themselves, they took out loans they thought weren't a problem as long as house prices kept rising."