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‘Deeply Sorry’ Madoff Pleads Guilty; Brazil Cuts Interest Rate; U.S. Inventories Fall 1.1%; Bank of America Profitable in 2009; GM Won’t Need U.S. Bailout in March; Chrysler Asks Canada for $2.3 Billion; Oil Rises 10% on Retail Sales Report
- “I never invested the funds in securities as promised,” Bernie Madoff said while pleading guilty to running a Ponzi scheme using as much as $65 billion in investor money, Bloomberg reported. Madoff will be sentenced June 16. He faces as much as 150 years in prison.
- Brazil’s central bank yesterday (Thursday) lowered its benchmark interest rate 1.5 percentage points to 11.25%. Brazil’s policy makers were unanimous in the reduction – its steepest in five years – and signaled they will continue reducing borrowing costs next month, Bloomberg reported.
- U.S. business inventories fell 1.1% in January, the Commerce Department reported yesterday (Thursday). The report was taken by many analysts as a sign that companies are halting production to sell what’s been sitting on the shelves, Reuters reported.
- Chiming in behind JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Citigroup Inc. (C), Bank of America Corp. (BAC), said it had a profit during the first two months of 2009 and expects to make money for the full year, Bloomberg reported. Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Lewis has promised the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank will get through the credit crunch without more help from U.S. taxpayers.
- General Motors Corp (GM) said in a statement it has told U.S. officials that it can survive through March without the additional $2 billion in emergency aid that it first requested. The automaker said yesterday (Thursday) that it had been able to delay the first part of its aid request after stepping up the pace of planned cost-cutting and holding back on some spending that had been planned for January and February, Reuters reported.
- Chrysler LLC is seeking larger wage concessions from Canadian union workers and has asked the government for a $2.3 billion (C$2.96 billion) loan, Bloomberg reported. Chrysler’s push in Canada for government aid and savings from union workers is similar to its efforts in the United States., where the automaker has received $4 billion in federal loans and is seeking $5 billion more.
- Oil rose more than 10% to top $46 a barrel yesterday (Thursday) as traders responded to a report showing sales at U.S. retailers eased a smaller-than-expected 0.1% in February after a surprise gain in January – a hint spending could be stabilizing. Ahead of weekend meeting by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), U.S. light crude rose $4.29 to settle at $46.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.