Fed chief says banks’ credit role shrinking

Banks play an important, though perhaps somewhat diminished, role in providing credit as consumers and businesses increasingly turn to other financial players, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Friday.

A copy of Bernanke’s remarks was made available in Washington.

The United States’ financial landscape has changed over the past decades. A company, for instance, can turn to a venture capitalist or Wall Street firm to tap financial capital. A prospective homeowner can turn to various mortgage providers — other than a traditional bank — to get a home loan.


Pearson tries to rally bid for Dow Jones

Pearson PLC, publisher of the Financial Times, is trying to rally partners for a possible bid to rival Rupert Murdoch’s $5 billion offer for Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co., the Journal reported Friday.

Pearson, based in the United Kingdom, has approached media company Hearst Corp. as well as General Electric Co. about a possible joint offer, the Journal reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.

Spokesmen for Pearson didn’t respond to messages for comment. A GE spokesman declined to comment, but GE’s chairman and CEO, Jeff Immelt, said recently that GE wasn’t interested in Dow Jones. Hearst spokesman Paul Luthringer responded in an e-mailed statement: “We don’t respond to speculation on such topics.”

NY Merc exploring sale to NYSE Euronext

The New York Mercantile Exchange, the world’s largest energy market, is exploring a sale to NYSE Euronext, Deutsche Boerse AG or Chicago Mercantile Exchange Holdings Inc., said two people involved in the discussions.

Nymex Holdings may be valued at $155 a share or $14.3 billion, 11 percent more than yesterday’s closing price, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are confidential. Top Nymex executives have met with their counterparts at the three suitors, the people said. Nymex’s board has been informed of the discussions.

Vista complaint baseless, exec says

Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer called Google’s complaint about its new operating system “baseless” and said his company was obeying a government antitrust settlement.

“We are complying with the consent decree,” Ballmer said in response to an audience question after a Friday speech in Novi, Mich. “We think all claims to the contrary are baseless.”

Google, the owner of the most used Internet search engine, complained that its desktop search program doesn’t perform properly on Microsoft’s Vista, the latest version of the Windows operating system that runs about 95 percent of the world’s personal computers, Microsoft said earlier this week.

U.S. officials are studying whether Microsoft violated the consent decree approved in 2002 that settled a government antitrust suit against Microsoft, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said June 11.


IPhone sales limited to Apple, AT&T stores

Customers clamoring to get their hands on Apple’s highly anticipated iPhone better make sure they’re at the right store.

The combination cell phone, media player and wireless Web device will only be sold at stores owned by Apple and AT&T, which has an exclusive deal to offer service for the device when it’s launched June 29. It will also be available at launch on Apple’s Web site.

The device goes on sale at 6 p.m. local time in each U.S. market.

Wynn Resorts grows size of Macau loan

Wynn Resorts Ltd. increased the size of a loan for its casino in Macau, the world’s biggest gambling market, by 24 percent to $1.55 billion, said three people with direct knowledge of the matter.

The company, controlled by developer Steve Wynn, boosted borrowings from $1.25 billion after more than 50 banks and funds offered to lend more than it sought, said the people, who declined to be identified because details aren’t public. Bank of America Corp., Deutsche Bank AG and Societe Generale SA are arranging the financing, they said.

Wynn entered Macau in September after China in 2002 ended Stanley Ho’s 40-year casino monopoly in the former Portuguese enclave.

The loan will trim Wynn’s interest costs and finance an expansion that will more than double the size of the 110,000 square-foot Wynn Macau.


Toyota offering more incentives on Tundras

Toyota Motor Corp., coming off its most successful sales month in the United States, said Friday that it is offering another round of incentives on its full-size Tundra pickup trucks.

The incentives offered through July 31 include a choice of zero-percent financing for five years, rebates of up to $3,500, or reductions of $500 on down payments on three-year leases. The monthly payment on the leases remains $259, but the down payment drops to $2,499 from $2,999.

Japan’s Toyota passed Ford Motor Co. for the No. 2 sales spot in the U.S. in May, when its sales increased 9.7 percent over year-earlier levels. General Motors Corp. remains No. 1.


Winnebago earnings slip in third quarter

Motor home manufacturer Winnebago Industries reported Friday its earnings fell 14.4 percent in the third quarter as higher materials and labor costs hurt its profit margins.

Winnebago earned $11.3 million, or 35 cents a share, in the three months ended May 26 versus $13.2 million, or 40 cents a share, a year ago.

Sales rose 5.2 percent to $231.7 million from $220.3 million.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected 49 cents a share on sales of $245.5 million.


Inflation news sends bond prices higher

A tame consumer inflation report boosted U.S. Treasury bond prices Friday.

At 5 p.m. EDT, the 10-year Treasury note was up $5 per $1,000 in face value, or 0.5 points, from its level at 5 p.m. Thursday. Its yield, which moves in the opposite direction, fell to 5.16 percent from 5.23 percent.

The 30-year bond rose 0.78 points. Its yield fell to 5.25 percent from 5.3 percent.

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