Asian markets mixed, with rise in financials boosting Shanghai
Shares of Japan Airlines plunged Wednesday, adding pressure on Tokyo's market, while financial stocks increased to bolster the market in Shanghai. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.9%, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gave up 0.2% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended flat. China's Shanghai Composite gained 1.6%, South Korea's Kospi Composite added 0.6% and New Zealand's NZX 50 slid 0.1%. Taiwan's Taiex climbed 0.7%, Singapore's Straits Times Index advanced 0.4% and India's Sensex dropped 0.3%. The Wall Street Journal (30 Dec.)
*no, really? You could knock me over with this surprise..
AIG workers concerned about finances long before crisis hit
A full year before the U.S. government bailed out American International Group, company employees were worried that the AIG Financial Products unit was in serious trouble, according to e-mails obtained by The Washington Post. AIG executives repeatedly asked for data to back up a claim that the company's finances were not at risk because of an accelerating collapse of the subprime-mortgage market. Although regulators, auditors, credit rating agencies and shareholders seemed unaware, AIG was in turmoil all through summer and fall 2007. The Washington Post (30 Dec.)
*and the CEO stands to earn around $10m for his helmmenship! How do I get that job?
U.S. to put additional $3B to $4B into GMAC, sources say
The U.S. Treasury will inject between $3 billion and $4 billion into GMAC Financial Services, sources said. Discussions between GMAC and the Treasury about an additional capital infusion -- on top of the $13.4 billion it already received -- have been under way for months. Earlier this year, the Treasury said it was prepared to provide GMAC as much as $5.6 billion more to ensure the company can survive another serious economic downturn. Bloomberg (30 Dec.)
Stock markets of emerging economies win as decade closes
This decade is nearly over, and results are in for equity markets. While the stock market in the U.S. stumbled, markets in developing economies enjoyed an avalanche of investment and handed back to investors huge returns. Brazil, Russia, India and China delivered returns in double -- occasionally triple -- digits as the broad U.S. market lost about a fifth of its value. The New York Times (29 Dec.)
U.S. housing recovery hits snag as prices flatten out
After four straight months of increase, house prices in the U.S. stood unchanged in October compared with September, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case Shiller Home Price index. The October index was down 7.3% compared with the same month last year. The biggest losers were Chicago, Atlanta and Tampa, Fla., while the biggest winners were Phoenix and San Francisco. Boston Herald (30 Dec.)
British manufacturers increasingly bring production home
Responding to rising shipping costs and poor quality from offshore suppliers, British companies are increasingly bringing their manufacturing back to the U.K. During the past two years, one of seven companies turned to domestic production after running into problems with outsourcing, said EEF, a manufacturers' organization. The group said nearly 70% of companies it surveyed said the U.K. is a competitive location for manufacturing, compared with 43% two years ago. The Times (London) (30 Dec.)