Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Quick Notes of the Day - May 12

EU Plans Bank Stress Tests - The European Union is planning a stress test of its banking system to find out if the sector has enough capital, according to a Reuters report citing EU sources Tuesday. The plan isn't for a stress test of individual banks as the U.S. has done, but instead is for an "aggregated stress test" which should show the resilience of the overall sector, the report said.

Bank of Korea Leaves Rates Unchanged - The Bank of Korea left its benchmark policy interest rate unchanged at an all-time low of 2.0% Tuesday. Economists had predicted no change with signs of improvement in South Korea's economy s the reason. Most economists predict the rate will be unchanged through the end of the year at least.

Bernanke Encouraged By Capital Raising - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Monday evening he is encouraged by the quick response by banks to raise private capital as required by the government after 19 major banks were put through the most thorough and rigorous examination of potential losses in the banking sector ever attempted. Bernanke said the main goal of the stress tests was to increase confidence in the banking system by reducing uncertainty about potential losses if the economy were to suffer an even greater downturn than currently expected. Although the success or failure of the stress tests won't be known for some time, "initial indications are encouraging," Bernanke said.

GM Execs Sold Shares - Six of GM's top executives, including Vice Chairmen Thomas Stephens and Robert Lutz, sold about 200,000 common shares in the company recently, according to regulatory filings submitted Monday. The transactions took place between Friday and Monday and the shares were unwound at a price range of $1.45 to $1.61 a share. The beleaguered auto maker has been surviving on $15.4 billion in federal aid and is trying to offload $27 billion in debt by convincing thousands of creditors to exchange their bonds for 10% in GM stock.

Ford to Offer 300 Million Common Shares - Ford said late Monday it will offer 300 million common shares at a par value of 1 cent a share. The proceeds from the offering are expected to be used for general corporate purposes, including to fund with cash, instead of stock, a portion of the payments Ford is required to make to the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association retiree health care trust with the United Auto Workers. "We continue to make strong progress on our transformation plan - gaining retail market share with great new products, improving quality, reducing costs and positioning Ford for a return to profitability," said CEO Alan Mulally.

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