Saturday, November 29, 2008

Crude Futures End Flat Ahead of OPEC Meeting; J.P. Morgan Plans to Cut WaMu Jobs; U.S. Stocks End Week Sharply Higher, Down for the Month; GM, Ford Rise Before Next Week's Meeting

Crude Futures End Flat Ahead of OPEC Meeting

Crude-oil futures erased earlier losses, ending Friday's trading just one cent lower as members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) sent mixed signals on whether they will cut production at Saturday's meeting. Crude for December delivery closed at $54.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It slumped 6% earlier to as low as $51.12. Floor trading closed one hour early in a shortened session after Thanksgiving. In after-hour electronic trading, crude rose 2%.

J.P. Morgan Plans to Cut WaMu Jobs

J.P. Morgan Chase, which bought Washington Mutual Inc.'s banking operations, will retain most of the giant thrift's branch-banking staff, but plans substantial job cuts at its former headquarters and elsewhere, Thomson Reuters reported Friday. J.P. Morgan expects to keep about 9,000 employees who worked at WaMu branches, as well as 2,000 employees in the mortgage and wealth-management units, according to the report. J.P. Morgan is expected to tell all former WaMu employees by Monday whether they would have jobs and for how long, Reuters said.

U.S. Stocks End Week Sharply Higher, Down for the Month

Stocks ended higher Friday, leaving the market with monthly losses but posting strong gains in a holiday-shortened week that saw investors increasingly confident that much of a dire economic outlook is already priced in. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 102 points, or 1.2%, at 8,829, with 23 of its 30 components ending higher. For the week, the blue-chip average jumped 9.2%, while it fell 5.3% for the month of November. The S&P 500 index rose 8 points, or 1%, to 896. The broad index gained 12% for the week, but fell 7.4% last month. The Nasdaq Composite gained 3 points, or 0.2%, to 1,535. The technology-heavy index jumped 11% for the week and had a monthly loss of 10.8%.

GM, Ford Rise Before Next Week's Meeting

General Motors and Ford Motor both saw their shares rally during Friday's holiday-shortened trading session ahead of next week's crucial meetings in Washington that could lay the groundwork for a federal bailout of the ailing auto industry. Automakers have been asked to submit a plan to Congress by Dec. 2 explaining how they would use a $25 billion cash infusion to revive their businesses. Ford stock surged 22.3% to $2.63 and GM rose 9.8% to $5.28 as investors raised bets that Congress would agree to lend the domestic automakers a financial lifeline after initially turning down their request. GM earlier this week also caught buyers' interest on reports that the company is considering shedding its Saturn, Saab and Pontiac brands as part of its effort to cut costs and secure the government loans.

Sources: MarketWatch, Reuters, Wall Street Journal

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