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Bank of America Boosts China Bank Stake; Home Prices Continue to Fall; Record Profit and Resignation for Vodafone; Standard Pacific Stock Shoots Up; Landis&Gyr Lands 7 Million "Smart Meter" Contract; S. Africa Grows a Slow 2.1% in 1Q; Gold Futures Fall $18
- Bank of America Corp. (BAC) announced yesterday (Tuesday) that it would increase its stake in China Construction Bank Corp. to almost 11%, The Associated Press reported. , bringing Bank of America's total investment in the Beijing-based bank to 10.75%.
- The S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index declined 14.4% from the same period the year prior, representing the biggest decline since the data began to be compiled in 2001. The home-price index has declined every month since January 2007, Bloomberg News reported. Rising foreclosure rates are adding to the oversupply of homes on the market, helping to keep home prices low.
- Vodafone Group PLC (ADR: VOD) announced yesterday (Tuesday) that Chief Executive Officer Arun Sarin plans to step down in July after five years as CEO, MarketWatch reported. The announcement came on the same day that Vodafone announced a record $13.2 billion (6.66 billion pounds) first quarter profit. Vittorio Colao, Vodafone's deputy CEO and head of the group's European operations will succeed Sarin.
- Homebuilder Standard Pacific Corp. (SPF) announced yesterday (Tuesday) it would receive a $530 million investment from private-equity firm MatlinPatterson Global Advisers LLC, Bloomberg News reported. Standard Pacific stock has been hard-hit by the housing recession, having lost over $1.4 billion in market value since 2005. "It's definitely good news," Matt Wilcox, a bond analyst at KDP Investment Advisors Inc. told Bloomberg. "It certainly gives them additional liquidity and time to weather this housing downturn."
- Privately-held Switzerland company Landis&Gyr announced yesterday that it signed a deal to set up nearly 7 million "smart meters" in Texas that will allow consumers to manage their electrical consumption, Reuters reported, citing a source familiar with the talks that estimated the deal in the $360 million ball park. The deal comes in the face of rising energy prices around the world and heightened environmental awareness about wasted electricity.
- South Africa's economy grew a pithy 2.1% in the first quarter, significantly below the 5.3% it moved in the previous three quarters and the slowest quarterly gain in more than six years. "The figures are grim," Dennis Dykes, chief economist at Nedbank Group Ltd., South Africa's fourth-largest bank, told Bloomberg. "The consumer side will remain under pressure given the higher interest rate environment and power problems are still a factor. We're in a cyclical downturn that will extend into next year."
- Gold futures dipped $18 an ounce to $907.90 in trading yesterday as the dollar regained strength. Another reason could be profit-taking, as gold moved 3% last week, Mark O'Byrne, a director at Gold and Silver Investments Ltd., suggested to MarketWatch.