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Existing Home Sales Fell But Prices Rose in March; Fiat Posts Loss But Optimistic For Rest of Year; Receiver Says Stanford Overvalued Assets; UPS Doesn’t Deliver; GM’s Summer Hiatus; Microsoft Crashes;
- Sales of existing U.S. homes in March fell 3% to an annual rate of 4.57 million but stayed near a four-month average, and prices rose from February, a sign the housing recession has stopped getting worse, Bloomberg reported. Figures reported yesterday (Thursday) from the National Association of Realtors showed prices for home resales posted their biggest monthly gain since June 2005, and NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said that some regions are seeing multiple bids on properties.
- Fiat SpA (ADR:FIATY) swung to a first-quarter loss as demand for its trucks and construction equipment collapsed, MarketWatch reported, but the Italian car maker retained its annual outlook and said the situation should improve over the course of the year. The maker of Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano posted a net loss of 411 million euros ($536 million), or 0.33 euro a share, compared to a profit of 427 million euros, or 0.32 euro a share earned in the year-earlier quarter. Sales fell 25% to 11.3 billion euros, dragged down by a severe drop in demand for trucks and utility vehicles.
- Stanford International Bank vastly overstated its assets leaving only a fraction to pay investor claims, the receiver in charge of Stanford's operations said in a court filing on Thursday, Reuters reported. In one instance 1,587 acres in Antigua that had been purchased for $63.5 million in 2008, were valued at $3.2 billion months later on the offshore bank's books, according to the receiver, attorney Ralph Janvey. Texas billionaire Allen Stanford, two aides and three of his companies have been accused by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of an $8 billion fraud involving certificates of deposit.
- United Parcel Service Inc (UPS) warned that its second-quarter outlook would likely fall below analysts' expectations and reported lower-than-expected profit as fewer packages shipped amid the global economic downturn, sending its shares down as much as 7.5% yesterday (Thursday), Reuters reported. The U.S. economic bellwether and said that while the economic recovery could begin as soon as the end of this year, it would more likely come in 2010.
- General Motors Corp. (GM) will shut down 13 of its 20 North American plants for several weeks this summer as the carmaker tries whittle down inventories at its dealers. Currently, GM has about 767,000 vehicles in U.S. dealer stock. The shutdowns will reduce GM's planned North American output by 190,000 units.
- Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) profit fell 32% to $2.98 billion, or 33 cents per share, in its fiscal third quarter ended March 31. Sales fell 6% to $13.7 billion. In January, Microsoft announced its first large-scale job cuts in the company’s 34-year history, slashing 1,400 positions during the third quarter with another 3,600 expected to be cut by mid-2010.