Moody’s, S&P being probed by NY over 2008 accord
Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings are being investigated by the New York Attorney General over whether they breached a 2008 settlement with the state, a person familiar with the matter said. The companies reached an agreement with then Attorney General Andrew Cuomo that required them to adopt changes to their operations. Eric Schneiderman, the current attorney general, is probing whether they complied with the agreement, said the person, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the probe. The US justice department and state attorneys general this week sued S&P, accusing the company of inflating ratings on mortgage-backed securities during the housing bubble. New York wasn’t one of the states that sued. Michael Adler, a Moody’s spokesman, and Dan Noonan, a Fitch spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to e-mails on Thursday after regular business hours seeking comment about the New York probe.
US jobless claims point to healing in labour market
The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week and a trend reading hit a near five-year low, signs a grinding recovery in the labour market remains on track. Other reports on Thursday showed many top US retailers had strong sales in January even as customers were hit with higher taxes, while productivity at businesses slumped in the fourth quarter. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 366,000, the labour department said. That was enough to pull down a four-week moving average of new claims, a gauge of the trend in layoffs, by 2,250 to 350,500, its lowest since March 2008. “The labour market is improving, but certainly not at a robust rate by any means,” said Russell Price, an economist at Ameriprise Financial in Troy, Michigan. While employers have pulled back on layoffs, they have only added jobs at a lackluster pace. Economists say the tepid labour market recovery means the Federal Reserve is likely to keep buying bonds into next year to keep US borrowing costs low.
France floats Peugeot stake buy option
The French government floated the possibility of buying a stake in PSA Peugeot Citroen after the ailing automaker announced second-half writedowns of 4.13 billion euros ($5.53 billion) amid Europe’s plunging auto sales. “Let’s be clear: this company cannot, must not disappear,” French budget minister Jerome Cahuzac said on RMC radio on Friday. “We’ll have to do what