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Consumer Confidence Hovers Near Low; Peru Stock Market Turns a 180; Air Canada Changes Direction; Barclay's Holding iShares Sale Talks; Mexico Wants $40 Billion from IMF; Second Chicago Paper Goes Bust; Private Equity Firms May Invest in "Toxic" Assets; Google Forms Venture Capital Arm
- U.S. consumer confidence, as measured by the Conference Board's sentiment index, clocked in at 26.0 in March, up from the upwardly revised 25.3 in February. "Apprehension about the outlook for the economy, the labor market and earnings continues to weigh heavily on consumers' attitudes," Lynn Franco, director of the industry group's Consumer Research Center, told Reuters. "More job losses are on the horizon."
- A rebound in prices for raw materials has helped turn Peru's stock market from Latin America's worst performer last year into the region's biggest gainer so far this year, Bloomberg reported. The Lima General Index moved a blistering 36% in March, and 29% for the first quarter.
- Shares of Air Canada are reacting unfavorably to the resignation of chief executive Montie Brewer and the appointment of his replacement, Calin Rovinescu, who helped lead the airline out of bankruptcy protection last year, Reuters reported. "Suddenly and dramatically, bringing in someone like Mr. Rovinescu … speaks to the extreme turmoil currently taking place at Air Canada," Ben Cherniavsky, an analyst at Raymond James, wrote in a research note.
- Barclays Plc (ADR: BCS) said yesterday (Tuesday) it is holding exclusive talks with private equity firm CVC Capital Partners Ltd. to sell its iShares exchange-traded funds unit, Bloomberg reported. People close to the negotiations said the sale price could be around $4.3 billion (3 billion pounds).
- President Felipe Calderon said Mexico wants take a $30 billion to $40 billion credit line from the International Monetary Fund, Bloomberg reported. The credit line will help increase Mexico's ability to finance a widening current account deficit and support the peso. The peso has risen 8.1% against the U.S. dollar in March, after dropping for seven straight months as the global recession curbed demand for Mexican exports.
- Sun Times Media Group Inc. (SUTM), the parent of the Chicago Sun-Times yesterday (Tuesday) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, Reuters reported. Chicago earns the distinction of being . The publisher joins its much larger, Chicago-based rival, Tribune Co. (TXA), on a growing list of newspaper companies that are choosing bankruptcy as advertising revenue plummets.
- Two prominent private-equity firms may participate in the Obama administration's program to buy distressed mortgage debt from U.S. banks. Apollo Global Management LLC (APOL), and Colony Capital LLC are among the buyout groups that are hoping to raise as much as $1 billion each to invest in government- backed deals, Bloomberg reported, citing anonymous sources. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is counting on buyout firms and hedge funds to lead as much as $1 trillion in purchases of toxic assets from ailing lenders.
- Google Inc. (GOOG), is forming a $100 million fund to invest in early-stage start-up firms. The fund, to be called Google Ventures, will look at a wide variety of companies to invest in, including consumer Internet products, information technology, health care and biotech, among other areas, Reuters reported. "Just as we were founded by entrepreneurs, we think we can help some of those next entrepreneurs with the next great idea," said Managing Partner Rich Miner.