Global Investment News Roundup

Rattner Floated as Car Czar; Sources: Barclays Planning 2,100 Lay Offs; BG Group Pumping Billions into Brazil Oil; Pfizer Cutting 800 Research Posts; Oil Snaps Week-Long Skid; Commercial Banks Borrowing Less Than Investment Banks; Companies Scramble to Fill Pension Plan Gaps

  • Sources close to the matter told Bloomberg News that President-elect Barack Obama may name Steven Rattner as "car czar," a top-level position that would oversee the conditions of which bailout money is given to U.S. auto companies, Bloomberg reported. Rattner co-founded private-equity firm Quadrangle Group LLC in 2000.
  • Barclays plc is planning to cut more than 2,100 jobs from its investment banking and investment management units, sources told Reuters. About 1,300 jobs would be lost from Barclays Capital. About 500 from Barclays Wealth. And about 370 from Barclays Global Investors.
  • Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. (PFE) said it plans to slash 800 research jobs, a reduction of 5% to 8% of its research workforce. Most of the cuts will come from labs in California, Connecticut and England, and are in addition to the near 10,000 jobs cut companywide since early 2007, Reuters reported.
  • Crude futures halted a weeklong price slide yesterday (Tuesday), as light, sweet crude for February delivery rose 19 cents to settle at $37.78 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures briefly touched $36.10 a barrel, a new low for the year, earlier in the day.
  • Commercial banks borrowed more while investment banks borrowed less from the U.S. Federal Reserve's emergency lending program over the most recent week. The Fed report said commercial banks averaged daily borrowing of $87.9 billion during the week that ended last Wednesday. That was an increase from the $86.6 billion in average daily borrowing for the week that ended Dec. 31. Investment firms borrowed nearly $36 billion over the past week, USA Today reported. That was down from the average of $38.5 billion for the week that ended Dec. 31, the newspaper reported.
  • U.S. companies may have to contribute $109 billion to their corporate pension plans this year to fill funding gaps caused by turmoil in the financial markets, consulting firm Watson Wyatt Worldwide Inc. (WW) said yesterday (Tuesday). Watson Wyatt expects companies also will have to contribute more than $102 billion in 2010. Both of these figures are up significantly from the $38 billion that companies were required to contribute to the plans last year.