India Cuts Repurchase Rate to 5%; Private Employers Cut 697,000 Jobs in Feb.; U.S. Auto Sales Down 41% in February; Oil Rallies to Six-year High; Merrill's Top 10 Execs Paid $209 Million Last Year;
- The Reserve Bank of India reduced its repurchase rate from an already low of 5.5% to 5.0%, its fifth cut since October. "We see a significant slowdown in investment," Sailesh Jha, a senior regional economist at Barclays Capital Plc in Singapore, told Bloomberg. "There is scope for more significant rate cuts."
- ADP Employer Services said that U.S. private employers cut 697,000 jobs in February, an acceleration of the revised 614,000 jobs lost in January. The figures mark the biggest job loss since the report's launch in 2001, Reutersreported.
- U.S. auto sales sunk 41% in February, as nearly every vehicle model by the country's six-largest automakers posted at least a 10% drop in year-over-year sales. "It implies we have not reached the bottom, and pushes that bottom out to some point yet to be determined," Emily Kolinski Morris, senior U.S. economist for Ford Motor Co. (F), told CNNMoney.com.
- For the first time since December 1991, shares of General Electric Co. (GE) fell below the $6 mark. "The market is beginning to anticipate a downgrade to double-A territory," Pacific Investment Management Co.'s Bill Gross said in an interview on CNBC. "We believe even with the downgrade, it's a viable, safe, liquid credit going forward."
- Oil prices jumped more than 9% yesterday (Wednesday) after plans for further stimulus in China stirred the markets from their slumber and U.S. inventories declined more than expected. Light, sweet crude for April delivery rose $3.73 a barrel to settle at $45.38 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, its highest close in six weeks.
- Merrill Lynch & Co's (MER) 10 highest-paid employees got a total of $209 million in cash and stock in 2008, up from $201 million in 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported. Merrill's net loss ballooned to $27.6 billion last year.