G-20 sets ambitious goals, but short on details

PITTSBURGH (AP) ¿ World leaders lined up Friday behind sweeping promises to fix a malfunctioning global economic system in hopes of heading off future financial meltdowns. For now, they said, they would keep stimulus programs going "until recovery is assured."

In the first international summit hosted by President Barack Obama, the G-20 moved to give China and other fast-growing economies a bigger say in decision-making and to crack down on greedy bankers.

They moved to require members to subject their economic policies to the scrutiny of a peer review process that would determine whether they were "collectively consistent" with sustainable global growth. They promised tighter and more coordinated financial regulation.

And, repeating pledges from G-20 summits in November and April, when financial panic was rampant, they vowed anew to "reject protectionism in all its forms."


Device approval exposes political pressure on FDA

WASHINGTON (AP) ¿ The Food and Drug Administration has taken the unprecedented step of acknowledging that it buckled to "extreme" pressure from Capitol Hill in its approval of a knee repair device last year. While FDA officials call the situation an anomaly, experts said Friday there is nothing to stop similar political lobbying from influencing future decisions.

In a sweeping critique Thursday, FDA leadership said the agency failed to protect its scientists from outside pressure after they twice rejected ReGen Biologics' Menaflex device.

The Hackensack, N.J.-based company ultimately won approval last December after enlisting the support of four New Jersey lawmakers, who urged then-FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach to intervene on the company's behalf.

Approval came despite protests by FDA scientists that Menaflex ¿ which reinforces damaged knee tissue ¿ provided little, if any, benefit to patients.


Reports on manufacturing, housing weigh on stocks

Stocks fell for a third day Friday after disappointing reports on manufacturing and home sales further dampened enthusiasm about the state of the economy.

Durable goods orders, a key indicator for the manufacturing industry, fell unexpectedly in August. It was the second drop in three months and the latest sign that any rebound inside the nation's factories is likely to be slow.

The Commerce Department said orders for goods expected to last at least three years fell 2.4 percent, after rising 4.8 percent in July. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had forecast an increase of 0.5 percent.


Durable goods orders, new home sales disappoint

WASHINGTON (AP) ¿ Orders for durable goods like aircraft and electronics fell unexpectedly in August, while sales of new homes rose less than expected. The weak reports renewed concerns about whether the economy can sustain a recovery with consumer spending held back by job losses, tight credit and falling home values.

Still, economists said the figures ¿ which follow weaker-than-expected data on existing home sales Thursday ¿ also reflect a volatile economy emerging from the worst recession since the 1930s.

Orders for durable goods dropped 2.4 percent in August, after rising a revised 4.8 percent in July, the Commerce Department said Friday. Economists had expected a 0.5 percent increase, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. It was the second drop in three months in orders for goods expected to last at least three years.


Regulators close Ga. bank; 95th US failure in '09

WASHINGTON (AP) ¿ Regulators on Friday shut down Atlanta-based Georgian Bank, the 95th U.S. bank to fail this year as loan defaults rise in the worst financial climate in decades.

In coming months, more banks are expected to buckle under the weight of commercial real estate and other loans that go sour. Those failures could imperil the insurance fund for deposits, already at the lowest point in nearly 20 years.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over Georgian Bank, with about $2 billion in assets and $2 billion in deposits as of July 24. First Citizens Bank and Trust Co., based in Columbia, S.C., agreed to assume the assets and deposits of the failed bank. Georgian Bank's five branches will reopen Monday as offices of First Citizens Bank.


Fresh bailouts for smaller banks being weighed

WASHINGTON (AP) ¿ Treasury officials and regulators are weighing a fresh round of bailouts for banks that were deemed too risky to qualify for earlier aid.

Representatives from the Treasury Department, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and House Financial Services Committee discussed the plan by phone Thursday, said California Bankers Association Chairman Dan Doyle, who was on the call.

Small community banks are struggling as commercial real estate and other loans go sour. Officials and industry representatives are considering how to get money to those banks, Doyle said Friday.

The new program could force Treasury to postpone closing its $700 billion bailout fund, which is scheduled to expire this year. That decision has become a political hot potato amid public backlash against bailouts and a rising deficit.


Unilever buys some Sara Lee businesses for $1.9B

AMSTERDAM (AP) ¿ Consumer products giant Unilever NV said Friday it has agreed to buy soaps and personal care businesses including the Sanex and Duschdas brands from Sara Lee Corp. for euro1.28 billion ($1.88 billion).

The businesses to be acquired, subject to regulatory approval, include Sara Lee's worldwide body care products business and its European detergents arms. In addition to Sanex ¿ a cheaper parallel of Unilever's Dove brand ¿ and Duschdas, a German shower gel maker, Unilever is buying several strong regional brands such as Radox bubble bath and Switzal, a maker of baby shampoo.

Unilever said the businesses it will acquire had sales of euro750 million and operating earnings of euro128 million in the 12 months ending in June.


KB Home posts smaller 3Q loss as sales increase

LOS ANGELES (AP) ¿ KB Home posted a smaller third-quarter loss on Friday as new home orders increased and the builder cut costs.

The company lost $66 million, or 87 cents a share, in the three months ended in August. That compares with a loss of $144.7 million, or $1.87 a share, the same period last year.

Still, the results missed analysts' expectations. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters forecasted a loss of 58 cents a share on revenue of about $457.9 million.


Something to tweet about: Twitter valued at $1B

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ¿ Twitter Inc.'s founders now have a billion-dollar baby, and they seem determined to raise it without a corporate parent.

That was the message underlying Friday's news that Twitter has lined up $100 million to finance its operations while founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone plot ways to make money off one of the Internet's most popular communications tools.

The investment values the 3-year-old company at $1 billion, even though it has yet to generate any meaningful revenue, let alone profits.

___ By The Associated Press

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 42.25, or 0.4 percent, to 9,665.19. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 6.40, or 0.6 percent, to 1,044.38, and the Nasdaq fell 16.69, or 0.8 percent, to 2,090.92.

Benchmark crude for November delivery added 13 cents to settle at $66.02 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude rose 29 cents to settle at $65.11 on the ICE Futures exchange.

In other Nymex trading, gasoline for October delivery lost nearly 2 cents to settle at $1.6205 a gallon, and heating oil for October delivery lost less than a penny to settle at $1.6771 gallon. Natural gas added 3 cents to settle at $3.985 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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