Greenspan- Mortgage debt a threat to markets

Thursday, April 7, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan urged Congress on Wednesday to restrict the multibillion-dollar holdings of the mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, warning that their huge debt could imperil U.S. financial markets. His admonition lent support to an effort in Congress to tighten controls on the two government-sponsored companies following their accounting scandals. Even so, shares of the companies rose in trading Wednesday. The Fed chairman told the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee that it might not be enough to just create a strong regulator for the companies, which hold or guarantee more than 45 percent of all mortgage loans in the country.

MCI holds onto offer of less from Verizon

DENVER -- The board of MCI Inc. has rejected an $8.9 billion buyout proposal from Qwest Communications, opting instead to stick with a lower-priced deal from Verizon Communications Inc. The board reiterated worries such as the long-term value of the Qwest shares to be used as partial payment to MCI stockholders, or whether Qwest can meet its ambitious forecast for cost savings from the proposed merger. But MCI also said the board is open to more discussions with Qwest.

Alcoa profits narrowly beat Street expectations

NEW YORK -- Alcoa Inc., one of the world's top aluminum producers, said Wednesday that first-quarter earnings fell year-over-year due to restructuring charges and other items, but profit from continuing operations narrowly beat Wall Street expectations. Net income fell to $260 million, or 30 cents per share, from $355 million, or 41 cents per share, a year ago. Earnings from continuing operations totaled $273 million, or 31 cents per share, in the latest period.

Seed money helps grow profits at Monsanto

ST. LOUIS -- Agriculture biotechnology leader Monsanto Co. said Wednesday its second-quarter profit more than doubled, reflecting fewer restructuring charges and growth in its seeds business. The results surpassed Wall Street expectations. The suburban St. Louis-based maker of Roundup herbicide and genetically modified seeds said net income jumped to $373 million, or $1.37 per share, in the three months ended Feb. 28. That compares with $154 million, or 57 cents per share, a year earlier.

Clothing industry asks for return of quotas

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. textile and clothing industry asked the government Wednesday to re-impose quotas on 14 categories of clothing to protect American manufacturers from a flood of Chinese imports. The cases covered such products as knit shirts, sweaters, brassieres, dressing gowns and trousers made with man-made fibers and came two days after the Bush administration brought its own cases on different clothing products.

Anheuser-Busch shares fall flat from profit outlook

ST. LOUIS -- Long a Wall Street darling for churning out double-digit earnings per share quarter after quarter, Anheuser-Busch Cos. has fallen on flatter times as it duels to defend its market share against rival Miller and increasing consumer thirst for wine and distilled spirits. The St. Louis-based producer of top-selling Budweiser and Bud Light saw its shares sink nearly 4 percent on Wednesday, a day after the nation's biggest brewer warned that its profit outlook for the year would be lower on weaker-than-expected U.S. beer volume in the first quarter.

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