A judge ruled against billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian about the nature of the 1998 combination between Daimler-Benz and Chrysler that formed DaimlerChrysler, rejecting Kerkorian's claims that DaimlerChrysler chief executive Juergen E. Schrempp and other former Daimler-Benz executives fraudulently disguised the Chrysler acquisition as a merger of equals to make it more acceptable to investors and to avoid paying a takeover premium. Kerkorian, once Chrysler's largest shareholder, had sought as much as $3 billion in damages for losses tied to the $36 billion combination, which hasn't boosted returns as predicted.
Tire Pressure Monitors Required in Cars
The government issued a safety regulation with roots in the Firestone tire recall of 2000 that requires new passenger cars to have tire pressure monitoring systems in place by the 2008 model year. A light on motorists' instrument panels will soon warn them when a tire is underinflated. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates the upgrade will cost manufacturers $48.44 to $69.89 per vehicle.
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced a settlement with technology company EasyLink Services, formerly Mail.com, and its former chief financial officer for alleged accounting violations in 2000, when SEC Chairman William H. Donaldson was a company director and served on the audit committee. Donaldson recused himself from the SEC's investigation into EasyLink, and an enforcement attorney from another federal agency monitored and reviewed the investigation. EasyLink was not fined but agreed to refrain from future violations of securities laws. Former finance chief Debra L. McClister also agreed to abide by a cease-and-desist order and was barred from auditing a public company for two years.
Gasoline prices are expected to average $2.35 nationwide in May as the summer driving season begins, according to the Energy Department. Prices will average $2.28 a gallon through September, mainly because of high crude oil prices and growing demand. Gasoline demand for this summer is projected to be 9.3 million barrels a day, a 1.8 percent increase over last summer and the highest on record.
Unemployment claims dropped in the week ended April 2, the Labor Department said, but the report failed to ease concern that job growth has slowed. First-time applications for unemployment benefits fell to 19,000, and the four-week moving average fell to 336,500 from 336,750.
General Motors said it will stop advertising in the Los Angeles Times, citing unspecified "factual errors" in the newspaper's coverage. GM's decision comes a day after Times' automotive columnist Dan Neil called on the company to "dump" chief executive G. Richard Wagoner Jr. A GM spokesman said the move wasn't triggered by a single article.
United Airlines said it will stop contracting with Air Wisconsin Airlines for its Express commuter flights to help reduce costs and exit bankruptcy protection. The airlines will gradually end their flight partnership at Dulles International Airport and at airports in Denver and Chicago, United said in a statement.
Warner Music Group disclosed that it had received another subpoena from New York Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer regarding an industry-wide probe of how music companies promote records to radio stations.
Mortgage rates fell. In its weekly nationwide survey, mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported that rates on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 5.93 percent this week, down from 6.04 percent last week. Rates on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, fell to 5.48 percent from 5.58 percent. Rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 4.23 percent from 4.33 percent.
A Morgan Stanley executive quit to join Credit Suisse First Boston, becoming at least the fifth senior banker to leave the world's No. 2 securities firm in the past two weeks. Vikram Gandhi was Morgan Stanley's co-head of investment banking for financial institutions and had been with the company since 1989.