World shares mixed…Fed low-income housing grant doubles
TOKYO (AP) – Global shares are mixed today after a Wall Street rally that reflected some optimism about the economy recovering from the pandemic. In early trading, France’s CAC 40 climbed 0.8%, while Germany’s DAX surged 1.1%. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 1.2%. In Asian trading, Japan’s Nikkei finished 1.3% lower, while South Korea’s Kospi edged up 0.2%. The Shanghai Composite lost less than 0.1%. U.S. shares are set to drift lower, with Dow futures slipping 0.1% and S&P 500 futures down 0.2%.
BRUSSELS (AP) – The European Union has approved $4.7 billion in state aid for national carrier Air France as it struggles through the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In return for the aid, the carrier has promised to make slots available to competitors at the busy Orly airport in Paris. Last year, Air France got 3 billion euros in direct loans from the French state which will be converted in bonds as part of a recapitalization of up to 4 billion euros. In exchange for the bailout, the government set conditions of profitability and more environmentally sustainable, less polluting policies.
GENEVA (AP) – Swiss bank Credit Suisse has announced the departure of two top executives and says it expects a one-time charge of 4.4 billion Swiss francs ($4.7 billion) in connection with a previously announced default of a U.S. hedge fund on margin calls. The Zurich-based bank says it provisionally expects to report a loss of 900 million francs in the first quarter – though final figures are still being worked out. Credit Suisse said it has suspended a share buyback program and reduced its dividend in the wake of the default. It did not identify the hedge fund.
WASHINGTON (AP) – A coronavirus pandemic-fueled mortgage boom is prompting states to receive nearly $700 million in federal grants from a special program for low-income housing, more than double the amount distributed last year. It’s a boost that the Department of Housing and Urban Development says should produce a tangible leap forward in government low-income housing plans across the country. The grants from the Housing Trust Fund are to be used for the construction, maintenance and restoration of low-income housing. The program is funded by a sliver of the proceeds from the federal mortgage programs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
BOISE, Idaho (AP) – A group of farmers has filed a federal antitrust case against several big agricultural companies, contending the companies worked together to ban e-commerce sales in order to keep prices for seeds, fertilizer and other chemicals artificially high. The Idaho farming operations based in Rupert filed the lawsuit seeking class-action status last month. Similar lawsuits have been filed in other states. Odessa Hines, a spokesperson for defendant BASF Agricultural Solutions, says the allegations don’t indicate anything except a competitive market.