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.

Ford Invests in Smaller, Greener Cars; Payroll Cuts Better Than Expected; Saab Open to Fiat Takeover; Canada's March Building Permits Surge; eBay CEO: Skype Worth More Than $2 Billion; Hertz Wants to Lease 20% of Fleet From Car Companies; Crude Tops $56; Eddie Bauer in Play

  • A report from ADP Employer Services showed that U.S. companies cut about 491,000 workers from payrolls in April. The figure was lower than economists' forecast and the lowest total monthly job losses since October, Bloomberg reported.
  • Building permits in Canada surged 24% in March, exceeding expectations by 10 times and breaking a five-month decline, Bloomberg reported. The total value of the permits issued by municipalities rose to $3.8 billion (C$4.5 billion), the biggest monthly gain since March 2007.

  • The CEO of eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) said yesterday (Wednesday) that $2 billion would be a low valuation for Skype.  San Jose-based eBay wants to spin off the Internet phone call company through an initial public offering by the first half of 2010.Analysts have valued Skype at around $2 billion, lower than the $2.6 billion eBay paid for it in 2005. Chief Executive Officer John Donahoe said: "I think that's low," when asked at a retail conference in Barcelona about a $2 billion tag, Reuters reported.

  • Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: HTZ), the largest U.S. car-rental company, said it's talking with two automakers to cut a lease deal this year that would help restock inventory and reduce the need for $5 billion in fleet financing next year. The company is trying to lease as much as 20% of its U.S. cars with the goal of cutting fleet financing costs by not taking title of the vehicles, leaving the inventory on the carmakers balance sheets. Credit markets are currently closed to rental-car companies, Chief Executive Officer Mark Frissora told Bloomberg.

  • Crude oil prices topped $56 a barrel on Wednesday, as a surprise drop in U.S. gasoline supplies and a slowdown in private sector job losses in April boosted hopes for a turnaround in the economy. U.S. light crude for June delivery rose $2.44 reaching $56.47 a barrel in New York trading. Brent crude climbed $2.02 to $56.14, Reuters reported.

  • Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: EBHI), which opened its first sporting goods store in Seattle in 1920, is in talks with potential buyers including Gordon Brothers Group and Hilco Consumer Capital LLC, Bloomberg reported, citing people with knowledge of the discussions. The outdoor-clothing chain operates about 370 stores in the U.S. and Canada. Eddie Bauer has a market value of about $21 million after the stock dropped more than 80% in Nasdaq Stock Market trading during the past 12 months. The company has reported annual losses for the past three years.