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Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Many Asian markets gain because of buoyant consumer demand
Share markets across the Asian-Pacific region mostly were up Tuesday. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 and Taiwan's Taiex inched up 0.3%, Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.5%, and China's Shanghai Composite gave up 0.5%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 0.7%, South Korea's Kospi Composite climbed 1.3% and New Zealand's NZX 50 gained 0.6%. Shares in the Philippines slid 0.6%, while Singapore's Straits Times Index advanced 0.3% and Indonesia's JSX climbed 0.7% in afternoon trading. The Wall Street Journal (02 Mar.)

Losses for TARP drop from $341 billion to $117 billion
The U.S. Treasury Department estimated that losses for its Troubled Asset Relief Program will be about $117 billion. The figure was revised down from $341 billion after companies, including American International Group, raised money to repay the government. AIG's effort is "further evidence that our strategy is working," said Andrew Williams, a Treasury representative. The Wall Street Journal (02 Mar.)

As optimism returns, spending goes up and savings go down
Consumers' spending increased and savings decreased in January, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. "The big question really is whether this Great Recession that we've come through has been traumatic enough to really change people's underlying behavior patterns," said William Cheney, chief economist at John Hancock Financial Services. "My guess is that it hasn't." The Washington Post (02 Mar.)

Refinancing help for U.S. homeowners gets 1-year extension
Homeowners who have seen the value of their house fall dramatically have an extra year to take advantage of a little-used program by the U.S. government. The Federal Housing Finance Agency said the Home Affordable Refinance Program, scheduled to expire June 10, will be extended to June 30, 2011. Google/The Associated Press (01 Mar.)

Analysis: Prudential's $35.5 billion bid for AIA is a risky move
The sheer size of Prudential's bid to acquire American International Assurance, American International Group's Asian life insurer, offers daunting challenges, according to The Economist. Britain's Prudential must persuade shareholders to come up with $20 billion, then go on to raise an additional $5 billion by selling bonds. "On top of all this there is the possibility that another bidder could emerge, either for AIA as a whole or for parts of it, throwing a spanner in the works," The Economist notes. The Economist (01 Mar.)

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