Global Investing Roundups

South Africa Cuts Interest Rates; BlackRock Cans 500; Empire Co. Posts 13% Profit; KB Toys Files for Bankruptcy; Citi and UBS to Buy Back $30 Billion in Securities; Bank of America to Cut 35,000 Jobs

  • South Africa’s central bank cut a half-percentage point from its benchmark interest rate, marking the country’s first interest rate reduction in more than three years, Bloomberg reported. The growing global crisis, rising unemployment and falling commodity prices are hampering growth for the emerging economy.
  • Second-quarter profit rose 13% for Empire Co., owner of Canada’s second-largest supermarket chain. Net income rose $53.6 million and revenue increased 7% for the three months through Nov. 1, Bloomberg reported.
  • KB Toys Inc. yesterday (Thursday) filed for bankruptcy protection for the second time in four years and plans to hold going-out-of business sales at its stores immediately. The 86-year-old company said in a filing that its debt is "directly attributable to a sudden and sharp decline in consumer sales," an indication of how poor this holiday season has been for many retailers.
  • Light, sweet crude for January delivery yesterday (Thursday) rose $4.46 to settle at $47.98 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil spiked 12% earlier in the day approaching $49 a barrel.
  • Citigroup Inc. (C) and UBS AG (UBS) yesterday (Thursday) agreed to buy back a total of nearly $30 billion in risky auction-rate securities that the Securities and Exchange Commission said the banks marketed to customers as safe. Tens of thousands of the customers bought the auction-rate securities before the $330 billion market froze in mid-February, the SEC said.
  • Bank of America Corp. (BAC) said yesterday (Thursday) that it plans to cut up to 35,000 jobs over the next three years. The bank said the reductions are aimed at eliminating redundancies resulting from its merger with Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. (MER), as well as the recessionary environment.