Investment News Briefs

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.

Fed Holds Rates; Berkshire Won't Report Results Before Meeting; Volcker: No More Stimulus Needed; Swine-Flu Takes Theme Parks for a Ride; Time-Warner Beats Street; Europe's Largest Port Overflowing With Oil; Wal-Mart Selling More Discretionary Goods; Oil Prices, Inventories Rise;

  • U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said yesterday (Wednesday) that the central bank would keep its benchmark lending rate at a record low of between zero and 0.25%. "The economy has continued to contract, though the pace of contraction appears to be somewhat slower," the Fed said. 
  • A spokeswoman for Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) (BRK.B), Warren Buffett's Omaha Nebraska-based conglomerate, said yesterday (Wednesday) that it will not report first-quarter earnings on Friday as expected. The company was scheduled to report the results the day before its annual investor meeting this Saturday. The spokeswoman, Carrie Kizer, said no new date had been fixed for the earnings release, and could not give a reason for the delay, Reutersreported. 
  • Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker said the U.S. economy is "leveling off at a low level" and doesn't need a second fiscal stimulus package, Bloombergreported. Volcker, the head of President Barack Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, said the 6.1% decline in first-quarter gross domestic product reported today was "expected." He noted recent data show the contraction in housing, business spending and inventories has slowed, and stimulus spending is only just beginning to hit the economy. 
  • Theme parks in Orlando, Florida are bracing for a potential barrage of cancellations as health authorities test whether a tourist who visited The Walt Disney Co.'s (DIS) Walt Disney World earlier this week was infected with swine flu, the Orlando Sentinelreported Tuesday.  The giant resort and other theme parks potentially faces substantial fallout after a doctor at a Florida hospital sent an e-mail saying a swine-flu case had been diagnosed in a tourist from Mexico who had been vacationing at Disney. Hospital administrators quickly backed away from the email, saying no swine-flu case had been confirmed. 
  • Time Warner Inc. (TWX) affirmed its outlook for results in 2009 and posted a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit.  The company said a rise in cable network revenue helped offset declines in advertising sales at its AOL Internet and Time Inc publishing units. Shares of the company, the first of the big U.S. media conglomerates to post results, gained in trading on Wednesday, after it said it anticipates spinning off one or more parts of AOL, Reutersreported. 
  • Rotterdam, Europe's largest refinery center, may be running out of space to store crude as global oil demand posts its first back-to-back annual drop in a quarter-century. Some ships have been diverted or are waiting outside the port until space is available, Bloombergreported.  Rotterdam is Europe's largest port and serves as a trading hub for refined products such as gasoline and diesel. 
  • Customers at Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s (WMT) are spending more on discretionary items as payroll taxes come down and gasoline prices fall, the head of the discounter's U.S. supercenters said.  CEO Eduardo Castro-Wright said on Wednesday the world's largest retailer is seeing customers treat themselves to goods such as sporting supplies and bedding now that costs for those goods have come down, Reutersreported. 
  • Oil prices yesterday (Wednesday) rose $1.05 to settle at $50.97 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, despite indications that U.S. inventories continue to build. The Energy Information Administration reported that oil inventories jumped by 4.1 million barrels for the week ended April 24 to 374.7 million barrels.