Archive for April, 2009

FTSE surges on US data (AFP)

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 | Finance News

LONDON (AFP) –
Shares in London, undeterred by swine flu and bolstered by positive consumer data from the United States, surged on Wednesday after big gains in Asia.

The FTSE 100 index climbed 2.27 percent to close at 4,189.59 points.

Investors focused on the Commerce Department report of a 2.2 percent jump in US consumer spending, which drives about two-thirds of US economic activity, after a decline of 4.3 percent in the fourth-quarter of 2008.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) was the most widely traded stock, seeing 149 million units change hands, followed by Vodafone, which saw 148 million switch owners.

RBS also led the blue chip risers, climbing 4.1 pence -- or 12.5 percent -- to end at 36.8, followed by fellow banker Barclays, which gained 24.25 pence -- or 10.4 percent -- to stand at 256.5.

Home Retail was the day's worst performer, shedding 6.25 pence -- or 2.31 percent -- to finish at 263.75, while property group Liberty International lost 7.65 pence -- or 1.91 percent -- to end at 394.

Elsewhere, the pound was up against the dollar while it dipped against the euro.

Sterling was worth 1.4793 dollars at 15:58 BST, up from 1.4634 at Tuesday's close, while it fell to 1.1100 euros from 1.1129 over the same period.

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U.S. lawmaker sees credit card law in May (Reuters)

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 | Finance News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) –
President Barack Obama will sign wide-ranging, pro-consumer credit card reforms into law by late May, senior U.S. House Democrat Carolyn Maloney predicted on Wednesday.

"President Obama seems very determined," Maloney, who met with Obama on Tuesday at the White House, told the Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit in Washington. "He said, 'We're going to get that bill. We're going to enact it into law'."

Maloney, who chairs Congress' Joint Economic Committee, added: "I'm predicting by Memorial Day (May 25) we will have... a law."

The House of Representatives is expected to vote Thursday on Maloney's bill, dubbed the "Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights."

Democrats, on behalf of the Obama administration, are expected to introduce a set of amendments including requiring card issuers to maintain low introductory teaser rates on credit cards for at least six months, and to warn card holders if they are about to exceed their credit limits, allowing them to avoid a penalty fee.

Maloney, who failed during a recent bill-writing session to insert a requirement for issuers to implement changes within 90 days of the bill becoming law, said another Democratic lawmaker will re-propose that provision for the House bill.

The Senate Banking Committee last month narrowly backed its own legislation. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he plans to bring a bill to the floor for a vote sometime "in this work period," before the Memorial Day break.

In 2007, Americans used an estimated 694.4 million credit cards with Visa Inc (V.N), MasterCard Inc (MA.N), American Express Co (AXP.N) and Discover Financial Services (DFS.N) logos, according to industry data.

Citigroup Inc (C.N), Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) and Capital One Financial Corp (COF.N) (COF.N) had almost 70 percent of the credit card market at the end of 2007.

The Federal Reserve and other banking regulators last year approved rules against unfair and deceptive credit card practices but gave the industry until July 2010 to comply.

Lawmakers want to codify those rules into law and go even further, frustrated with surprise interest rate hikes and hidden fees from card issuers -- many of which have received billions of dollars in bailout funds aimed at boosting lending.

Banks complain that the changes could hurt their revenues at a time when they can least afford it and could actually reduce the availability of credit.

The head of the American Bankers Association, which represents the biggest credit card issuers, told the Reuters summit on Tuesday that he expects a final credit card bill "in the not too distant future."

(For summit blog: http://blogs.reuters.com/summits/)

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Time Warner to spin off AOL (AFP)

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 | Finance News

WASHINGTON (AFP) –
Time Warner announced plans on Wednesday, in documents submitted to the Securites and Exchange Commission (SEC), to spin off troubled Internet unit AOL.

Time Warner has raised the prospects of spinning off AOL on previous occasions and chairman and chief executive Jeff Bewkes said Wednesday the company was "working to determine the right ownership structure for AOL."

Time Warner reported on Wednesday that revenue fell 23 percent at AOL in the first quarter of the year to 867 million dollars with advertising sales down 20 percent and subscription revenue falling 27 percent.

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