Fed says widespread recession growing

The U.S. recession is dragging down almost every industry in almost every part of the country and businesses do not expect conditions to improve until late this year at the earliest, according to a Federal Reserve report released Wednesday.

The prognosis came amid new signs of deterioration in both the service sector and the job market in February.

The Fed’s “beige book,” a compilation of anecdotal reports from businesses around the country, underlined how difficult it has become to find bright spots in the economy.

Demand fell for business consultants and law firms, except where there was a need for bankruptcy lawyers. Demand for furniture, appliances and other major household items remained “quite depressed,” and sales of autos remained “exceptionally sluggish,” according to the beige book, which is published eight times a year.

Harrah’s announces new debt-swap offer

Harrah’s Entertainment late Wednesday announced an offer to bondholders to trade $2.8 billion of existing notes for new notes with lower debt that would be repaid later.

The new notes proposed by the company would be issued at 10 percent and mature in 2018.

The offer expires April 1 at midnight EST.

Harrah’s Entertainment’s owners, Apollo Management and TPG Capital, are also launching a $250 cash tender offer to raise liquidity for the financially struggling casino company.

The company was able to successfully reduce its $24.1 billion debt load by $1.16 billion through a debt exchange completed in January.

American Casino lays off workers

The company that operates the Stratosphere, the two Arizona Charlie’s hotel-casinos and the Aquarius in Laughlin laid off an undetermined number of workers this week and undertook several other cost-cutting measures.

American Casino & Entertainment Properties said Wednesday the cutbacks were due to “economic conditions.” A spokesman would not specify how many employees were affected by the moves.

The company said it was also suspending its 401(k) match program, effective April 5, and salary increases scheduled for July were also suspended.


Las Vegas Sands on schedule to open resort

Las Vegas Sands Corp., which suspended construction last year at two sites in Macau, said Wednesday it’s on schedule to open a $5.4 billion Singapore casino resort in December.

The casino operator said most of the 2,500-room Marina Bay Sands will be ready by the end of the year. It will be Singapore’s first casino.

In addition to gambling space, the resort will feature an art and science museum, 300 shops and three 55-story hotel towers connected at the top with a pool, restaurant and observation deck.


Treasury prices drop as stocks rebound

Treasury prices fell Wednesday as stocks rebounded and investors prepared for more big note auctions next week.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell 0.81 points to 98. Its yield rose to 3.01 percent from 2.94 percent late Tuesday.

Prices move in the opposite direction of yields.

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