Revised data from the Department of Labor is good news for the economy.
Treasury Department Announces $6 Billion Plan
The Treasury Department announced a plan on Wednesday to sell $6 billion of its American International Group (A.I.G.) shares, the New York Times reports. The offering is expected to be completed in a few days and will further reduce the federal government’s holdings in the insurance giant it helped bail out during the financial crisis. A.I.G. will buy back up to $3 billion worth of the common stock that the Treasury Department is selling and will also repay $8.5 billion in other obligations to the Treasury Department, principally using proceeds gained from various asset sales, the Times says.
Japan’s Prospects for Recovery Improve
Japan’s economy, ravaged by last year’s earthquake, contracted less than the government’s initial estimate last quarter, Bloomberg reports. The gross domestic product shrank an annualized 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter that ended Dec. 31. Economists forecast that Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, will grow 1.5 percent this quarter.
Chrysler Drives Value of Company to $7.5 Billion
Chrysler Group LLC’s CEO Sergio Marchionne is being credited with steering the company from the brink of collapse, Reuters reports. The company’s top executive declined a salary and bonus for the second consecutive year in 2011, when the venerable Detroit automaker repaid more than $7 billion in government loans from is bankruptcy restructuring nearly three years ago. The company’s value was $7.5 billion at the end of last year, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, a 56 percent gain from 2010.
Apple Unveils Updated iPad
Apple Inc. yesterday unveiled an updated iPad featuring a super high-definition screen and faster wireless connection, The New York Times reports. The new tablet will cost $499 and is scheduled to go on sale on March 16h.
The company also announced it would continue to sell the iPad2, but will lower the price on the previous-generation technology from $499 to $399. Apple also introduced a new version of Apple TV, which sells for $99 and allows viewers to stream high-definition Internet videos.
Report Points to Stronger Labor Market
The economy has added significantly more jobs than previously reported, according to revised estimates from the Department of Labor, reported yesterday by The New York Times. The Labor Department has raised its initial estimates of payroll jobs for all but a few months in the second half of 2010 and all of 2011.
The upward revisions indicate that American consumers can better cope with rising gasoline prices and other economic headwinds. A private report from ADP Employer Services showed that the U.S. economy added 216,000 workers to payrolls in February, compared to the 173,000 jobs added in January.
Wells Fargo May Close Branches
In an effort to trim costs, Wells Fargo & Co. may close some of its branch officers, according to a company announcement yesterday that was reported by Bloomberg News.
The nation’s largest bank in terms of market value, Wells Fargo is attempting to control costs as increased regulation curtails revenue from debit card transactions and other fees. Company officials said the bank plans to trim $1.5 billion in quarterly costs by the end of the year, Bloomberg said.
Wells Fargo currently has the largest U.S. network of retail outlets, including 6,239 retail branches, 1,375 retail brokerages offices and 725 mortgage locations. Its market value of $160 billion is the largest among U.S. lenders, and the bank also ranks first in home loans and mortgage servicing.