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February Factory Orders Turn Positive; Fixed Mortgages at Record Low; GM Seeks Gov’t Money For Hybrids; Chile: Copper Prices Heading North; IBM Lowers Bid for Sun; Oil Surges 9% on Dollar Weakness
- U.S. factory orders rose in February, reversing six months of consecutive declines, the Commerce Department said. New factory orders rose 1.8% in February after dropping a revised 3.5% in January, Reuters reported.
- The 30-year fixed-mortgage rate dropped to 4.78%, a 30-year low, as the U.S. Federal Reserve increases its purchases of mortgage-backed bonds, Bloomberg reported. “Lower rates will help increase demand for homes. We need to see stronger demand for homes to help end the housing correction,” Celia Chen, senior director at Moody’s Economy.com told Bloomberg.
- Seeking funding to develop three new hybrid vehicles, General Motors Corp. (GM) asked the U.S. Treasury for a low-interest $2.6 billion loan, Reuters reported. If received, the loans would help the company develops two spinoffs from its all-electric Chevrolet Volt.
- Copper’s December price of $1.25 a pound is “in the past,” said Chile’s Mining Minister Santiago Gonzalez. December’s price was a four-year low, a result of tapering demand from China. Now, “China is buying large amounts of copper,” Gonzalez said to Bloomberg. “That’s part of copper’s recovery.”
- International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) cut its offer for Sun Microsystems Inc. (JAVA) to $9 from $10 per share, The Wall Street Journal reported. Sun has agreed to accept a lower price in return for stronger commitments from IBM that it will complete the deal even if it faces intense regulatory scrutiny, according to The Journal.
- Oil prices surged nearly 9% yesterday (Thursday), as light, sweet crude for May delivery rose $4.25 to settle at $52.64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Natural gas for May delivery added 8.7 cents to settle at $3.782 per 1,000 cubic feet.