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IN BRIEF

Local gasoline prices surge during month

Southern Nevada gasoline prices have risen nearly 20 percent over the last month, AAA data show.

In Las Vegas on Friday, the average price for a gallon of regular self-serve unleaded gasoline was $2.584, AAA said in its Daily Fuel Gauge report.

That’s up 19.5 percent from $2.162 per gallon a month ago but down 29.5 percent from $4.05 per gallon a year ago, AAA said.

The Nevada average price was $2.595 per gallon on Friday, AAA said; the national average was $2.592 per gallon.

Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service in Wall, N.J., told the Los Angeles Times the rate of increase so far in 2009 has been unprecedented, up nearly 55 percent since New Year’s Day.

Some states, including Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Montana, have seen price increases of $1 a gallon or more.

NEW YORK

Appeals court upholds sale of Chrysler assets

A U.S. appeals court on Friday upheld Chrysler’s sale of most of its assets to Italy’s Fiat, but the deal will remain on hold to allow an appeal to the nation’s highest court.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it will continue to delay the sale until 4 p.m. EDT Monday, unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes. The three-judge appeals court panel was expected to release a written ruling later Friday.

Thomas Lauria, an attorney representing the trio of Indiana state pension and construction funds that appealed the sale, said his clients will keep pressing their objections.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.

Wal-Mart says it will keep new customers

After a year when the company was the top performer in the Dow and registered record sales and profit amid retail bankruptcies and losses, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. — the world’s largest retailer — on Friday said the new customers, traffic and sales it has gained from the economic downturn are “permanent and sustainable.”

“The economic crisis has brought a fundamental shift in consumer attitudes and behavior,” the company’s new Chief Executive Mike Duke told a crowd of more than 16,000 investors and employees gathered for the company’s annual shareholder meeting at the University of Arkansas.

“There’s a ‘new normal’ in which people want to save money,” Duke said.

The retail giant also told the crowd at the meeting, hosted by entertainer Ben Stiller and featuring stars including Miley Cyrus and American Idol winner Kris Allen, that it plans to buy back as much as $15 billion in stocks in a new share repurchase program.

WASHINGTON

Regulators shut down small bank in Illinois

Regulators on Friday shut down Bank of Lincolnwood, a small bank in Illinois, marking the 37th failure this year of a federally insured bank. More are expected to succumb amid the pressures of the weak economy and mounting loan defaults.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was appointed receiver of the failed bank, based in Lincolnwood, Ill., which had about $214 million in assets and $202 million in deposits as of May 26.

All of Bank of Lincolnwood’s deposits will be assumed by Republic Bank of Chicago, based in Oak Brook, Ill., which also agreed to buy about $162 million of the bank’s assets; the FDIC will retain the rest for eventual sale.

Bank of Lincolnwood’s two offices will reopen on Saturday as branches of Republic Bank of Chicago.

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the deposit insurance fund from the failure of Bank of Lincolnwood will be $83 million.

SYDNEY, Australia

Rio Tinto exits Chinalco deal, will sell stock

Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto PLC on Friday scrapped its $19.5 billion deal with China’s Chinalco, choosing instead to raise $15.2 billion in a share sale and setting up a joint production venture with rival BHP Billiton Ltd.

Rio Tinto Chairman Jan du Plessis said in a letter to shareholders the planned deal with Chinalco was now dead and his company would pay it a $195 million break fee, thus ending what would have been China’s biggest overseas investment to date.

The proposed deal with Chinalco had sparked opposition in Australia, amid concerns that a foreign state-backed enterprise would own a strategic stake in the country’s biggest natural resource assets.

Mattel, Fisher-Price to pay $2.3 million penalty

Mattel Inc. and its Fisher-Price subsidiary will pay a $2.3 million civil penalty in an agreement with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for selling toys with hazardous levels of lead.

Mattel recalled more than 21 million toys made in China, including Elmo Stacking Rings and Bedtime Dora, after they were found in 2007 to have lead paint or dangerous designs.

After the recalls by Mattel and other companies in 2007, Congress overhauled consumer regulations, effectively banning lead in toys, requiring the CPSC to hire more workers and boosting fines on sellers of dangerous products.

NEW YORK

Oil prices briefly top $70 a barrel, recede

Oil prices broke through the $70 per-barrel barrier Friday and more forecasters are broadening expectations for an upward swing in crude.

Benchmark crude for July delivery lost 37 cents to settle at $68.44 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, finishing the week with a gain of nearly $2 a barrel.

Earlier in the day oil jumped as high as $70.32 per barrel, the highest since October.

Surging energy prices appear to be outpacing an economic recovery for now, and there are concerns that consumers may pull back spending further.

Where’s GM? Follow the clicks to find it

Is General Motors Corp. gone? If you visited a pair of popular finance sites online Friday, you may have thought so.

Plug the familiar “GM” ticker into Yahoo Finance and the company had disappeared. On Friday, the stock price was listed at zero; the historical price chart stopped on Monday and listed a 75 cents per share closing price. GM shares were also off the MSN Money page; its GM page lists “N/A” where the carmaker’s stock price should be.

Google Finance (finance.google.com) and Bloomberg.com told a different story. Both sites put the carmaker’s shares on the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board under the new symbol “GMGMQ” and listed them at 87 cents a share Friday, up 12 cents for the day. The sites say the volume of shares traded Friday was 105.5 million.

Etrade.com and TDAmeritrade.com, two sites where would-be investors may go to buy the stock, also listed the 87-cents-a-share stock price. The TD Ameritrade site noted that GM acquired its new ticker symbol Tuesday, the day after the carmaker’s stock was banished from the 30 stocks comprising the Dow Jones industrial average.

SEATTLE

Gates Foundation nets $10.4 million in gifts

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s annual report says it brought in $10.4 million in individual donations in 2008, without making an effort at fundraising.

That dollar amount does not include new money from Bill or Melinda Gates or their friend Warren Buffett, who gave the world’s richest foundation’s trust about $1.8 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway stock last year.

The foundation had an endowment totaling $27.5 billion as of April 1.

It began accepting individual donations in 2007. A foundation spokeswoman said then that Bill and Melinda decided it wasn’t right to say yes to Buffett and no to everyone else who wanted to support the work of the foundation.

NEW YORK

Bond yields climb as prices decline

Bond yields jumped again on Friday as a sell-off in Treasurys continued, an ominous sign for anyone looking to buy a home or refinance their loans.

In late trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.86 percent from 3.71 percent late Thursday, as its price fell 1.03 points to 94.13.

The yield, a commonly used benchmark for mortgages and other kinds of lending, increased as high as 3.91 on Friday. That point was it highest level since November.

The yield on the 30-year bond rose to 4.65 percent from 4.59 percent, as its price fell 1 point to 93.69.

 

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