Wednesday's Early Headlines
- SEC Squashes Rumor of Short Sale Prohibition -- The Securities and Exchange Commission refuted rumors that regulators are considering a short sale ban on companies with U.S. government ownership. "There is no truth to the rumor that we are considering restricting the short selling of stocks in which the government has a stake," SEC spokesman John Nester told Reuters. Shares of companies in with the U.S. government holds an interest surged Tuesday; American International Group (AIG), Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) were among the big winners.
- Toyota U.S. Sales Rise 50% So Far in March -- Toyota (TM) said North American sales rose about 50% since the beginning of March on the back of incentives. Don Esmond, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales, told The Associated Press that early numbers surpassed the company's expectations. The sales news comes on the heels of a well-publicized story of a Toyota Prius that sped out of control at 94 mph on a highway in San Diego and had to be rescued by cops
- Mortgage Applications, Rates on the Rise -- The Mortgage Bankers Association said its Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, rose a seasonally adjusted 0.5% last week. Refinancing applications fell 1.5% compared with the prior week, the survey showed, while purchase activity was up 5.7%. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate rose to 5.01% last week from 4.95% the previous week, the MBA said.
- Bank of America to End Overdraft Fees on Debit Cards -- Bank of America (BAC) is expected Wednesday to eliminate overdraft fees on purchases made with debit cards. Customers, however, will be denied from making purchases if they have insufficient funds in their accounts. ATM customers can get their money but only after they agree to pay the $35 overdraft fee. The policy begins for new customers on June 19. For existing debit-card holders the plans take effect in August.
- Citigroup to Sell Real-Estate Unit to Apollo: Report -- Private-equity group Apollo Management agreed to buy Citigroup's (C) Citi Property Investors unit, which would give Apollo 65 real estate investments in 26 countries with a net asset value of $3.5 billion, according to a Bloomberg report. The purchase may take as long as three months to close, a person with knowledge of the deal told Bloomberg.
- Facet Biotech Surges on Abbot Labs Bid -- Facet Biotech (FACT) soared 67% in after-hours trading Tuesday after Abbott Laboratories (ABT) said it would acquire Facet for $27 per share in cash for a net transaction value of about $450 million. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2010. The acquisition will not impact Abbott's previously issued ongoing earnings-per-share guidance for 2010, Abbott said in a statement