Top of the Morning – New Plan for Underwater Borrowers

Dexia Belgium to Nationalize (WSJ)

Troubled Franco-Belgian bank Dexia SA said Tuesday it expects to conclude plans for the Belgian state to take control of its Dexia Bank Belgium unit at a board meeting scheduled for Wednesday. The business is being nationalized as part of a rescue plan agreed earlier this month that will result in the break-up of Dexia. The Belgian state is acquiring the domestic retail unit for €4 billion ($5.49 billion) while the Belgian, French and Luxembourg governments have agreed to offer €90 billion in guarantees for Dexia’s funding over the next decade.

Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX)

Chevron $CVX to Begin Drilling of Chinese Coast Next Year (WSJ)

Chevron Corp. plans to start drilling its first gas exploration well off the southern coast of China before the end of the year, near an area where large gas reserves have been found, a senior regional executive said.

IBM’s Shares Fall 4% (FT)

IBM’s flat performance in major markets and concerns about how poor economic conditions and currency shifts might affect its fourth quarter drove down shares of the technology group. The shares fell nearly 4 per cent to $179.48 in extended trading in New York on the news, in spite of strong third-quarter growth in emerging markets for the company

Goldman Sachs $GS Reports Loss (WSJ)
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. swung to a loss, marking only its second quarter in the red since its 1999 initial public offering, as it marked down the value of assets in its lending and investing portfolio. Like its investment-banking peers, Goldman found revenue-generating opportunities to be scarce in the third quarter as choppy markets sidelined clients. Investment-banking revenue slumped 33% from a year earlier.
Danone in Assets Sales Talks with Suntory  Holdings (Bloomberg)
Danone (BN), the owner of the Evian and Volvic brands, is in talks to sell bottled-water assets to Japan’s Suntory Holdings Ltd., three people familiar with the matter said. Paris-based Danone is seeking to reach an agreement to sell the assets by the end of the year, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions aren’t public. The proceeds may then be used to fund a possible offer for Pfizer Inc. (PFE)’s infant-nutrition business, said one person. Suntory may seek to buy only water operations in Asia, two people said.
Wells Fargo Reports Lower Quarterly Results than Hoped (WSJ)

Wells Fargo & Co.’s first disappointing quarterly results in more than two years are a particularly bad omen for other banks because of a continuing slide in the company’s net interest margin. Net interest margin, or the spread earned between the funds borrowed by a bank and the money it lends out, is one of the U.S. banking industry’s biggest earnings engines.

China Reports Slower Economic Growth (WSJ)

China’s economic growth slowed in the third quarter but remained at a relatively healthy pace, adding to evidence that the Chinese economy is headed for a soft landing. Economists are now divided on whether a loosening of Beijing’s economic policies is imminent. China’s third-quarter gross domestic product was up 9.1% from a year earlier, slowing from 9.5% growth in the second quarter and 9.7% growth in the first, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday. Growth fell short of the median 9.2% forecast of 14 economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.

New Plan to Help Underwater Borrowers (WSJ)

State and federal officials are pushing a plan that could help some “underwater” borrowers get refinancing assistance in the latest government bid to break a legal impasse with big banks over alleged foreclosure abuses and ease problems in the housing market. The proposal was raised in a meeting last week between government negotiators and giant lenders as part of an effort to settle allegations of questionable foreclosure practices. Discussions are still fluid and any final outcome is uncertain. Talks between government officials and the banks are expected to continue this week.

Senate Passes Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Bill (WSJ)

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a bill Monday updating pipeline-safety regulations and increasing fines that federal regulators can impose on violators. The bill follows recent natural-gas pipeline explosions, including an incident that killed eight people in northern California last year. The legislation has support from industry. A similar measure won unanimous approval from the House Energy Committee last month and is awaiting a vote by the full House.

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