Judge: Country must settle with creditors

Argentina cannot turn its back on negotiations with holdout creditors after defaulting on its sovereign debt, a U.S. judge instructed Friday, just as the country’s failure to service a June interest payment was declared a “credit event.”

In a stern tone, U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa in New York slammed the decision by Latin America’s third-biggest economy to defy his order that it pay in full holdout investors suing­ it and instead default on $29 billion in debt.

As Griesa was speaking, a 15-member committee aided by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association voted unanimously to call the missed coupon payment a “credit event.” The move triggers a payout process for holders of insurance on Argentine debt, which analysts estimate could amount to about $1 billion.

“Nothing that has happened this week has removed the necessity of working out a settlement,” said Griesa, telling both sides to continue working with mediator Daniel Pollack.

The judge chided Argentina for making public statements that he characterized as misleading. “The debts weren’t extinguished. There’s no bankruptcy, no insolvency proceedings,” Griesa said. “The debts are still there.”

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The judge has been at the center of Argentina’s drawn-out fight against the New York hedge funds suing it for full payment on bonds they bought on the cheap after the country’s record 2002 default on $100 billion in debt.

— Reuters

Discounts rev up car sales in July

Big discounts helped U.S. auto sales sizzle in July. Toyota, Ford, Nissan and Chrysler all saw ­double-digit sales gains. General Motors’s sales were up 9 percent compared with last July, while Hyundai’s rose 1.5 percent. Of major automakers, only Honda and Volkswagen saw declines.

Last month was the best July for the industry since 2006. New vehicle sales rose 9 percent to 1.4 million, according to ­Auto­data.­

Automakers typically offer deals in the summer to clear out inventory before cars from the new model year arrive in the fall. But last month’s discounts were unusually high.

Incentives rose 8 percent — or $216 per vehicle — over last July, said Jesse Toprak, chief analyst for the car shopping site Incentives averaged $2,774 per vehicle, their highest level since August 2010. Toprak said Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen and Hyundai were the most generous; GM and Honda spent less.

Toyota was offering zero-
percent financing on a five-year loan and $1,000 cash back on the Camry sedan. Ford offered $6,000 cash back on a new Expedition SUV. And Chrysler was peddling a $99 per month, two-year lease on a Dodge Dart. ­ said 13.5 percent of new car loans in July had ­zero-percent financing, the highest level since December 2010.

— Associated Press

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— From news services