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IN BRIEF

To explore options, company hires lawyer

Silver State Bancorp, the holding company for the similarly named Henderson bank, on Wednesday said it hired an attorney to review the “options for winding down the affairs of the company,” including bankruptcy.

Regulators seized subsidiary Silver State Bank and put it receivership on Sept. 5.

Silver State trust preferred securities total $40.3 million. The bank holding company owed $70 million on junior subordinated debt.

WASHINGTON

Jobless benefits claims fall short of forecast

Government data show new applications for unemployment benefits fell less than expected last week as the struggling economy continues to take a toll on workers.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that applications for jobless benefits dropped to a seasonally adjusted 445,000, down by 6,000 from the previous week. That is above analysts’ expectations of 440,000.

The four-week moving average, which smooths out week-to-week fluctuations, rose slightly to 440,000.

NEW YORK

New York official looks into short-selling tactics

New York state is launching an investigation into whether some traders used illegal tactics to drive down the stock price of several Wall Street firms.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said Thursday his office has received a “significant number” of complaints about short sellers, or investors who hope to profit by betting that a financial company’s stock will fall.

Short-selling isn’t illegal. But Cuomo said he will focus on whether short sellers conspired or spread rumors and bad information to influence the stock prices of Lehman Bros. Holdings Inc., American International Group Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and other firms that have been hammered in the financial crisis.

Short-selling occurs when traders borrow shares of a stock they expect will fall and sell them. If the stock falls, the traders buy the cheaper shares to cover the borrowed ones and profit from the difference.

Naked short-selling occurs when sellers don’t borrow the shares before selling them. It’s a practice some say helped spark the huge drop in the shares of investment banks Lehman, Merrill Lynch and Bear Stearns Cos., which JPMorgan Chase & Co. bought earlier this year.

BOSTON

Putnam Investments closes $12 billion fund

Putnam Investments on Thursday suddenly closed a $12 billion money-market fund and announced plans to return investors’ money after institutional clients pulled out cash despite the fund’s lack of exposure to troubled financial firms such as Lehman Bros. Holdings Inc.

The move, believed to be unprecedented in the nearly $3.4 trillion money-market fund industry, came a day after asset managers sought to reassure investors in the wake of a massive pullout from large retail fund Reserve Primary Fund. The run on that fund caused its assets to plunge in value by nearly two-thirds and fall below $1 for each dollar invested, exposing investors to losses of 3 cents on the dollar.

NEW YORK

Oil prices rise modestly as stocks start recovery

Oil prices rose modestly but closed well off their session highs Thursday as a late-day stock market rally soothed investors’ concerns about the economy and demand for energy. Earlier, the contract topped $100 a barrel as investors uneasy about the worsening financial crisis flocked to commodities as a safe haven.

Light, sweet crude for October delivery added 72 cents to settle at $97.88 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract had reached as high as $102.24 as worries intensified about the stability of the U.S. financial system and as investors fled the equities market in favor of commodities.

SEATTLE

Microsoft pulls plug on Gates-Seinfeld ads

TV viewers can return to their favorite programs without fear of seeing Bill Gates shaking his tushie now that Microsoft Corp. has retired a bizarre two-week-old ad campaign featuring the software giant’s chairman with comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

Bloggers and online media have suggested that the Redmond, Wash.-based company yanked the Seinfeld ads after they were poorly received.

The ads show Gates and Seinfeld bantering at a mall shoe store and while living with a suburban family, trying to get in touch with regular people. However, a senior vice president in Microsoft’s central marketing group, Mich Mathews, said Thursday that it was always the plan to replace the Seinfeld-Gates ads with ones that focus on Windows.

NEW YORK

Traders’ worries stay high; Treasurys sink

Government bond prices slid Thursday as investors stayed anxious about the congested financial system, but hopeful that the government will find a way to get the credit markets functioning again.

In other late Treasury trading, the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell 0.88 points to 103.91. Its yield rose to 3.53 percent from 3.42 percent late Wednesday.

The 30-year long bond fell 1.31 points to 105.41, while its yield rose to 4.18 percent from late Wednesday’s rate of 4.09 percent.

 

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