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.

Reports Point to Housing Market Bottom; Big Three Automakers Beat Estimates; Microsoft Will Unveil New Operating System in Time for XMAS; Dallas Fed President: Economy 'Getting Less Worse'; European Jobless Rate Climbs;  Pepsi Bottling Chief Could Cash In

  • The housing market showed further signs of bottoming in April, as pending sales of previously owned U.S. homes saw their biggest monthly gain in seven and a half years, the National Association of Realtors reported. The number of Americans signing contracts to buy previously owned homes climbed 6.7% in April, more than forecast and the fourth increase in five months. The report supports the case for a housing bottom made in Money Morning on Monday, where it was noted that housing prices are starting to move upward in western U.S. markets and should soon slowly begin to rise in hard-hit east coast markets.  "Based on what we just heard, we are now formally calling for the end of the housing depression and that we increasingly think that the housing market is beginning to turn up. All signs are pointing to a bottoming out now of the housing market" Bernard Baumohl, Chief Global Economist at the Princeton-New Jersey based Economic Outlook Group, told Reuters.
  • Detroit's ailing Big Three automakers, all reported that May sales in the U.S. fell less than analysts' estimates while Toyota Motor Corp. (ADR NYSE: TM) and Honda Motor Co. (ADR NYSE: HMC) did worse than expected. Sales at General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM) dropped 30% from last year, Ford Motor Co.'s (NYSE: F) sales fell only 24% and Chrysler LLC plummeted 47%, better than estimates, as shoppers returned to showrooms.  Deliveries at Toyota plunged 41% and Honda plunged 42%. Among Japanese carmakers, only Nissan Corp sales exceeded estimates, falling only 33%, Bloomberg reported.
  • Microsoft Corp (Nasdaq: MSFT) said on Tuesday its new Windows 7 operating system, which will replace the unpopular Vista, will be available on October 22, well ahead of its original schedule and in time for the holiday shopping season, Reuters reported.  Windows 7 was originally scheduled to launch at the start of next year, but Microsoft confirmed last month that it would push up the schedule to allow sales during the year's busiest buying period.
  • The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank has successfully pulled the economy back from the brink, Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher said yesterday (Tuesday).  The Fed official also said that conditions are "getting less worse" over time and the Fed needs to unwind its new, expansive credit programs as soon as it can, Reuters reported.  Furthermore, the U.S. central bank needs to make it clear it will not "monetize" the rapid expansion of U.S. debt, Fisher told a gathering of community leaders at a Dallas Fed event.
  • Unemployment in Europe rose to 8.6% in April, up from 8.4% in March and 6.8% during the same period last year. Although the economic downturn in Europe is showing signs of slowing, the employment rate typically lags behind economic health.
  • Pepsi Bottling Group Inc. (NYSE: PBG) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Eric Foss is being promised a minimum $16.5 million in severance pay and stock benefits  if PepsiCo Inc.'s (NYSE: PEP) takeover succeeds. He earned $6.1 million in total compensation last year. Pepsi Bottling, along with PepsiAmericas Inc. (NYSE: PAS) rejected a $6 billion acquisition attempt by PepsiCo, calling it "grossly inadequate" and "not acceptable." Pepsi Bottling and PepsiCo are now locked up in a lawsuit, with PepsiCo accusing Pepsi Bottling of adopting a "poison pill" takeover defense that restricts its rights as a shareholder.