IN BRIEF

WASHINGTON

U.S. unveils steps to help mortgage giants

The U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve announced steps Sunday to shore up mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Shares of the two companies have plunged in recent weeks as losses from their mortgage holdings surged, threatening their financial survival.

Secretary Henry Paulson said the government is planning to expand its current line of credit to the two companies should they need to tap it and Treasury could buy equity captial in the companies — if needed. The moves will require congressional approval.

The Federal Reserve said in a separate statement that it will lend to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac if they need additional funds.

The plans also seek a “consultative role” for the Federal Reserve in any new regulatory framework eventually decided by Congress for Fannie and Freddie.

The Fed’s role would be to weigh in on setting capital requirements for the companies.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac either hold or back $5.3 trillion of mortgage debt. That’s about half the outstanding mortgages in the United States.

Paulson is working closely with congressional leaders to his plan as soon as possible as one complete package.

ST. LOUIS

Anheuser-Busch OKs sale, paper reports

Anheuser-Busch reportedly has agreed to be acquired by Belgian brewer InBev for $49.9 billion.

The deal, reported by The Wall Street Journal, would create the world’s largest brewer and put the iconic American beer maker in the hands of the Belgian-based company behind Stella Artois and Beck’s beers.

The newspaper cited anonymous sources, who said that Anheuser-Busch-InBev would be the new company’s name and that Anheuser would have two seats on the company board.

Anheuser-Busch did not return a call seeking comment Sunday evening.

The newspaper said the deal was for $70 a share. That’s an increase over InBev’s original offer that was rejected in June.

CAMARILLO, Calif.

Gasoline prices up 1.5 cents over three weeks

A national survey shows consumers across the nation are paying an average of 1.5 cents a gallon more for gasoline than they were three weeks ago.

The average price of regular gasoline at self-serve stations was $4.11 a gallon Friday. Mid-grade was $4.24 a gallon, and premium went for $4.35. That’s according to the Lundberg Survey of 7,000 gas stations nationwide, released Sunday.

The survey showed the average price is $1.05 higher than it was a year ago.

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