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With our investment news briefs, Money Morning provides investors with a quick overview of the most important investing news stories from all around the world.
Whirlpool Surprises With 1Q Profit; Japan Predicts 3.3% 2009 Contraction; Verizon Beats 1Q Expectations; Analyst: Swine Flu-Hit Stocks Attractive; IMF: G-20 Nations Meet Goals; IRS to Go After More Offshore Accounts; Number of Vacant Homes Hits Record; Newspaper Circulation Drops Again
- Whirlpool Corp. (WHR) posted a surprise quarterly profit and backed its 2009 forecast after deep cost cuts helped it withstand slumping global sales. The world's largest appliance maker froze salaries and reduced retirement plans, and has been talking with banks about renewing frozen credit lines, Reuters reported.
- Japan's government cut its 2009 forecast, saying the economy will shrink 3.3% as exports and corporate spending continue tumbling. Without the government's $159 billion (15.4 trillion yen) stimulus plan, approved by the Cabinet, Japan's economy would contract as much as 5.2%, Bloomberg reported.
- Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) beat quarterly profit expectations as it added 1.3 million wireless customers during the quarter. However, it took a heavy loss in traditional phone subscribers. "They appear to be executing extremely well given the economic challenges and everything else," Stifel Nicolaus analyst Christopher King told Reuters.
- The stocks hammered by the swine flu outbreak could be bargains for long-term investors, says JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s (JPM) Chief U.S. Equity Strategist Thomas Lee. The dip in share prices is similar to that caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in February 2003, Bloomberg reported. "Nothing about swine flu seems thesis changing," Lee said.
- The International Monetary Fund said yesterday that the Group of 20 industrial and developing countries had committed to spending increases and tax cuts totaling 2% of their gross domestic product this year and 1.5% next year, meeting its goals for reversing the recession. The Washington-based lender last year set 2% as the level required, only for a transatlantic split to emerge as the U.S. backed the push in the face of resistance from the euro area, Bloomberg reported.
- The Internal Revenue Service is planning to pursue more foreign banks for allegedly helping tax scofflaws conceal assets from the U.S. government. The agency recently pursued a high-profile case against Switzerland's UBS AG (UBS), collecting $780 million in fines and forcing the bank to identify wealthy Americans with hidden assets who may be found guilty of tax evasion. "We are developing John Doe summonses on other banks," Daniel Reeves, an agent with the IRS' Offshore Compliance division, told Reuters.
- The number of vacant homes — including foreclosures, properties for sale and vacation properties — jumped to a record 19.1 million in the first quarter as the recession sapped demand for real estate, the U.S. Census Bureau said in a report Monday.. The number of homes that stood unoccupied rose from 18.6 million a year earlier. The U.S. financial crisis and falling prices have shattered the confidence of homebuyers. The percentage of people who said they plan to buy a home in the next six months dropped to a 26-year low in March, according to the Conference Board in New York, Bloomberg reported.
- Newspaper circulation continued to decline as paid weekday newspaper circulation in the six-month period that ended March 31 fell 7% from a year ago to 34.4 million, according to new figures released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The trade association which tracks 395 daily newspapers with five-day-a-week circulation noted the decline accelerated from last year's drop of 3.6%. Sunday circulation at 557 papers fell more than 5% to 42.1 million from last year when circulation fell 4.6%, Reuters reported.