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WTO’s Global Trade Deal; Ford’s Lowered Expectations; Surprise Decline in Jobless Claims; Oil Drags on Hang Seng; Wider Loss for B&N; Big Oil Spends $1.3 Million in 1Q Lobbying; Bill Miller Joins Ichan in Pressuring Yahoo; IEA to Probe World’s Oil Supply; Medtronic Coughs Up $75 Million to Settle Suit
- The World Trade Organization (WTO) has published a new draft of plans for a global trade deal that will be discussed the next time world trade ministers meet, BBC News reported. Although the plan doesn’t change existing tariff or subsidy cuts, it does offer some compromises and clarifies some key "sticking points." Negotiators hope to have a deal closed by the end of the year.
- Battered by increasing steel costs and dampened consumer demand due to high gas prices, Ford Motor Co. (F) announced yesterday (Thursday) that it would not be able to meet Chief Executive Officer goal of returning to profitability by 2009, Bloomberg News reported. North American vehicle production will be cut throughout the rest of this year due to "the rapidly changing business environment in the [United States]," a company statement read.
- First-time jobless claims fell 9,000 to 365,000, from a revised 374,000 the previous week, the Labor Department announced yesterday (Thursday), Bloomberg News reported. The decline was unexpected and indicates that companies are responding to the current U.S. economic slowdown by curtailing hiring, while trying to maintain current employees.
- Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index hit a one-month closing low yesterday (Thursday) in reaction to the declines in the U.S. markets. Oil firms Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Co. (ADR: SHI) and PetroChina Co. Ltd. (ADR: PTR) also weighed on the index. "Weak U.S. stocks and Beijing's denial on an imminent deregulation of oil product prices hurt market sentiment," Kenny Tang, associate director at Tung Tai Securities, told Reuters.
- Bookseller Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS) yesterday (Thursday) reported a loss of $2.2 million, or 4 cents per share, for its fiscal first quarter ended May 3, compared with a loss of $1.67 million, or 3 cents per share, for the same period in the prior year, Reuters reported. Barnes & Noble reduced its full-year outlook based on the difficult economic environment and announced it would consider "the feasibility of a transaction" with rival Borders Group Inc. (BGP).
- The American Petroleum Institute, the trade group for major oil and natural gas companies, , the Associated Pressreported. The API also lobbied on various pieces of legislation dealing with oil taxes and fees, renewable fuel standards, climate change, offshore drilling and more, according to the form posted online April 21 by the House clerk's office.
- Bill Miller, portfolio manager at Legg Mason Capital Management, has not signed on to the Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) investor coup being led by Carl Icahn. However, in an interview at a New York conference Wednesday, Miller, whose fund controls a 5.4% stake in Yahoo, said he wants Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) "It is a strategic imperative for Microsoft to change its position," Miller told Reuters after speaking at the hedge fund conference.
- The International Energy Agency announced yesterday (Thursday) that it is studying depletion rates at about 400 oil fields in its first-ever study of world oil supply. The Paris-based group said the study, to be released in November, was prompted by concern about the volatility of world oil markets and uncertainty about supply levels.
- The spinal-products unit of medical-device maker Medtronic Inc. (MDT) by telling doctors to bill in-hospital stay – even when a cheaper outpatient visit would have done the job, The New York Times and The Associated Press both reported. Originally, the accusations had been leveled against Kyphon Inc., which Medtronic spent $4.2 billion to buy in November.