March 19, 2008 / 6:44 AM / 11 years ago

PRESS DIGEST - New York Times business news - March 19

March 19 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The New York Times business pages on Wednesday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* The U.S. Federal Reserve reduced short-term interest rates for the sixth time in six months, capping an extraordinary series of measures it has taken to stabilize financial markets. The cut was smaller than investors had been expecting, though, and exposed some signs of a split among policy makers.

* Despite reporting steep declines in first-quarter earnings, both Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc LEH.N beat analysts’ expectations, easing worries, at least for now, about the financial health of Wall Street.

* A reorganization of the global coal trade is making the United States a major exporter for the first time in years, and driving up prices of the one fossil fuel the nation has in abundance.

* Intel Corp (INTC.O) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) said that they planned to finance two groups of university researchers to start over and design a new generation of computing systems.

* A surging euro is indisputably a burden for Europe’s exporters, but it has not yet had a sharp effect on European economies. Because of new markets abroad, leaner companies at home and the positive side effects of a weak dollar, European exporters have withstood the loss of competitiveness that comes with a buoyant currency.

* Jerome Kerviel, the trader accused of causing more than $7 billion in losses at Societe Generale (SOGN.PA), left a Paris prison cell after more than five weeks in pretrial custody.

* In a boon for big banks and Wall Street, Visa Inc (V.N), the credit card giant, went public in the largest initial public offering in American history. The $18 billion public offering was greeted with fanfare, but was unlikely to spark a new wave of initial stock sales given the turbulence in the markets.

* Frank Quattrone, the former star investment banker whose career was derailed by a four-year fight against obstruction of justice charges, said his next venture will be: the Qatalyst Group, a technology-focused merchant banking group.

* Only days after the fire sale of Bear Stearns Cos Inc BSC.N stunned Wall Street, a battle seems to be brewing in the markets over the fate of the troubled investment bank and the controversial deal that JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) and federal authorities devised to save it. Bondholders like the JPMorgan deal, but Bear’s shareholders hope to scuttle it.

* Businesses paid more for gasoline, automobiles and most products last month, reinforcing fears that inflation is rising. Over all, prices paid by producers rose 0.3 percent, slowing slightly from a 1 percent gain in January.

* Wireless companies bid more than $19 billion for radio spectrum license rights, which are being surrendered as broadcasters aim to convert to digital television in 2009.

* The Kimberly-Clark Corp (KMB.N), the maker of Kleenex tissues, is joining forces with Meetup, a social networking site that fosters offline meetings of users who share interests like parenthood.

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