___Ex-AIG exec defends risky trades before crisis WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ A former top executive of American International Group Inc. acknowledged Wednesday that his division more than tripled the amount of risky investments it insured in the three years leading up to the 2008 financial meltdown. But Joseph Cassano, chief executive for AIG's key Financial Products division, rebuffed accusations from a special panel investigating the crisis that he relaxed standards to issue more credit default swaps. AIG received a $182 billion taxpayer bailout â¿¿ the biggest of the federal rescues â¿¿ after it nearly collapsed and helped trigger the financial crisis. ___ Monsanto 3Q net income sags on weak Roundup sales KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) â¿¿ Monsanto Co., the world's biggest seed maker, said Wednesday its fiscal third-quarter net income tumbled 45 percent as it shrank its Roundup weedkiller business amid intense generic competition. As Roundup sales have flagged, Monsanto last year said it was accelerating its long-term strategy to shift the majority of its business from chemicals and herbicides to genetically altered seeds. But the transition has been rougher than expected as growing generic competition from China drives steep declines in Roundup sales, and Monsanto has struggled to entice farmers to buy up its pricey genetically modified seed. ___ Boeing buys Argon for $775M as military shifts Boeing is buying combat engineering firm Argon ST for about $775 million, reflecting a shift by defense contractors seeking to accommodate a Pentagon that now wants high-tech intelligence tools as much or more than big guns and heavy armor. The Pentagon is cutting some big weapons meant for conventional wars out of the budget while it shops for technology better suited to fight against shadowy insurgent groups in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Argon ST Inc. is a Fairfax, Va., company that develops a variety of systems used in surveillance and combat. That includes reconnaissance equipment mounted on planes, sensors meant to warn of an approaching enemy and special sights to help troops locate snipers in urban warfare.
___Celgene to buy Abraxis for $2.9B in biotech deal NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Biotechnology company Celgene said Wednesday it is expanding its array of cancer treatments with a deal to buy Abraxis BioScience Inc. for $2.9 billion in cash and stock. Celgene Corp. said the transaction could add $1 billion to its annual sales by 2015. The company is hoping it will be able to "re-energize" sales of Abraxis' only approved drug, the breast cancer treatment Abraxane, and also win approval for Abraxane as a treatment for skin, lung, and pancreatic cancer. If that happens, the value of the deal could grow to more than $3.55 billion. Cancer treatments are expensive and they are a major area of growth in the drug industry, which makes them a tempting target for buyers like Celgene. ___ Ford Motor to repay $4 billion more in debt DETROIT (AP) â¿¿ Ford Motor Co., the only Detroit automaker to avoid bankruptcy protection, said Wednesday it will reduce its huge debt by another $4 billion as it continues to show signs of financial strength. The Dearborn, Mich., automaker will pay $3.8 billion in cash to a United Auto Workers trust fund that pays retiree health care bills, and it will pay out $255 million in dividends on preferred securities that had been deferred as the automaker worked its way through financial troubles. The company now will make quarterly payments on the securities, which are a combination of preferred stock and bonds. ___ Tesla Motors hits high gear in 2nd day of trading NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Shares of Tesla Motors Inc. spiked Wednesday as investors continued bidding up the stock following the electric car maker's blowout public offering. The excitement cooled late in the session, with shares paring their gains to end down slightly on the day.
In its second day of trading, Tesla shares soared 27 percent by midday to peak at $30.42 before investors took profits off the table. The stock finished 6 cents lower at $23.83 â¿¿ still 40 percent above its $17 IPO price.Tesla's two-day run is impressive given the volatile stock market and the lackluster performance of some recent initial public offerings this year. But analysts said the gains are largely fueled by speculation about the company's potential rather than its current performance. ___ Unable to pass stimulus, Dems push aid for jobless WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Unable to deliver more stimulus spending for President Barack Obama, Democrats in Congress are trying at least to restore jobless benefits for 1.3 million laid-off workers. Democrats in both the House and Senate planned to vote on bills Thursday that would extend unemployment benefits through the end of November for people who have been laid off for long stretches. House Democrats postponed a vote scheduled for Wednesday. Democratic leaders were hoping to pass the extension before Congress goes on a weeklong Independence Day recess. By The Associated Press The Dow fell 96.28, or 1 percent, to 9,774.02. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 10.53, or 1 percent, to 1,030.71, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 25.94, or 1.2 percent, to 2,109.24. Benchmark crude for August delivery fell 31 cents to settle at $75.63 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price has ranged between $75 a barrel and $78 a barrel for about a month. In other Nymex trading in July contracts, heating oil fell 3.96 cents to settle at $1.9817 a gallon and gasoline lost 1.14 cents to $2.0606 a gallon. August natural gas rose 6.8 cents to $4.616 per 1,000 cubic feet. Brent crude fell 43 cents to settle at $75.01 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange.