In Brief

Silver prices close near 30-year high; analysts see more rising

Silver prices closed at a nearly 30-year high on the Comex exchange. And Bloomberg News says data suggest the rise may not be over.

Silver prices settled at $20.79 on the New York Mercantile exchange, up 4.5 cents. On the Comex exchange, Bloomberg News said, silver futures jumped to $21.025, the highest price since in 30 months, before settling at $20.816, the highest closing price since Oct. 16, 1980.

Bloomberg News said technical analysis by Gold Arrow Capital Management shows silver may climb 15 percent more in the next few weeks to hit $24 an ounce. The last time the price reached $24 was in September 1980.

Service1st Bank, acquirer waive right to stop merger

Service1st Bank, a $232 million-asset Las Vegas bank, and its proposed acquirer agreed to waive their rights to terminate the merger by Sept. 30 so that regulators can approve the transaction, according to a report Friday.

Western Liberty Bancorp of New York and Service1st expected to get final approval by Sept. 30, but the Federal Reserve Board advised them it needed until Oct. 12 to act on the application. So the bank and Western Liberty signed a letter, agreeing to extension of the deadline to Oct. 12, a report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows.

The New York company will boost Service1st capital by $25 million if the merger closes.

Shares in Western Liberty gained 29 cents, or 5.13 percent, Friday to close at $5.94 on the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board.

NEW YORK

Caterpillar’s global machine sales up 37 percent in August

Caterpillar Inc. said Friday that its worldwide machine sales leaped 37 percent in August, led by surging sales in Latin and North America.

The results, announced in a regulatory filing, highlight a shift in the world’s appetite for construction and mining equipment. Though the sales growth rate slowed in Asia, it surged in Latin America and picked up slightly in the United States and Canada.

Sales in Latin America jumped 57 percent in August over the same month a year ago. That’s a much faster uptick over the same month in 2009 than the company showed earlier in the summer. Latin American sales rose 32 percent in July from a year earlier, and 18 percent in June from the same month last year.

Sales in Asia rose 32 percent last month. That’s down from July, when the region’s sales jumped 41 percent. In June, sales were up 36 percent from a year earlier.

BOSTON

Citigroup plans to exit from
private student loan business

Citigroup Inc. is exiting the private student loan business, as the government changes the playing field by making Uncle Sam the primary lender to students.

The government’s growing role is cutting out private lenders from much of the business of financing higher education, prompting lenders to decide whether to exit the business or cut back.

On Friday, Citigroup said it is selling its 80 percent stake in Student Loan Corp., its student loan business, and about $32 billion in related assets to Discover Financial Services and the student lender Sallie Mae.

The combined transactions will bring Citigroup $1.8 billion in cash, but Citi said it will take a loss of about $500 million in this year’s third quarter because of the deals.

PORTLAND, Ore.

Pepperidge Farm breads and bagels will soon be less salty

Pepperidge Farm Inc. says it will cut sodium levels in the majority its breads, rolls and bagels by 2011, making it the latest of many food makers to respond to demands for healthier products.

The company, owned by Campbell Soup Co., said the reductions will ultimately result in sodium levels 10 to 33 percent lower in 69 of its U.S. bakery products.

Pepperidge Farm said it has already begun some of the reductions, such as cutting sodium in its original white bread from 225 milligrams per slice to 150 milligrams last year.

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