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.

IMF Lowers Global Writedown Estimate; CIT Still Struggling; $1.6 Billion Hong Kong IPO for Wynn Macau; Wal-Mart, Kmart Gunning For Holiday Toy Sales; Toyota Announces Record Recall; BofA Exec Takes Over Hartford Financial; Citi Ups Russia 2010 GDP Forecast

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) lowered its estimate for global writedowns from banks and financial institutions to $3.4 trillion from its April forecast of $4 trillion, an encouraging sign that came with an asterisk. The IMF also warned that rising loan losses are possible as unemployment and associated delinquencies increase, Reuters reported. "This improvement is welcome but there are still significant challenges ahead, particular for banks," said Jose Vinals, director for the IMF's monetary and capital markets division.
  • Facing bankruptcy, CIT Group Inc. (NYSE: CIT) is poring over an offer of financing from Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) and Barclays plc (NYSE ADR: BCS), sources told Bloomberg. CIT sought for a second government bailout earlier this year but was denied, forcing the bank to ask bondholders for $3 billion. Now those bondholders are seeking to provide nearly $2 billion in loans, the sources said.
  • Casino group Wynn Macau's initial public offer in Hong Kong raised $1.6 billion on 1.25 billion shares, which is equivalent to about 25% of its stake, MarketWatch reported. The shares set aside for institutional investors attracted 20 times more interest than could be accommodated, despite the company pricing the shares on the higher end of market estimates.
  • Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and Kmart are putting their crosshairs on toy sales for the incoming holiday shopping seasons, the Washington Post reported. Wal-Mart will launch a campaign that will price a small army of toys for $10 or less, an expansion of a similar campaign last year. And Kmart, which is owned by Sears Holding Co. (NASDAQ: SHLD), will promote 15 "hot toys" and air commercials that spotlight its layaway program.
  • Toyota Motor Corp's (NYSE ADR: TM) reputation took a big hit as it said it would recall 3.8 million vehicles because loose floormats could press on the accelerator, Reuters reported. The recall would be Toyota's biggest to date, and it includes its popular Prius hybrid model. The loose floormat problem is suspected of causing 17 crashes that have killed five people in the United States. Toyota said it was too early to provide an overall cost estimate for its recall.
  • Hartford Financial Services Inc. (NYSE: HIG) has tapped former Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) executive Liam McGee to be its new chief executive officer. McGee, who served as Bank of America's head of consumer banking, replaces Ramani Ayer, who announced his intention to step down in June. McGee told Reuters he already has plans to enhance risk management, with the immediate task of avoiding "the mistakes of the past." He also said he will complete an "intense review" of the 199-year-old insurer by 2010.
  • Citigroup nearly quadrupled its forecast for Russia's 2010 gross domestic product (GDP) because of "re-stocking, pickup in consumption and only a gradual recovery in imports, as well as the base effect," Citigroup Moscow-based economist Elina Ribakova wrote in a note to clients, MarketWatch reported. She raised her target GDP growth to 3.0% from 0.8%, though she warned that Russia's recovery will be slow and its second-half 2009 GDP will contract by 5% year-on-year.