Government extends aid to money funds

The government is extending a program to bolster the money-market mutual fund industry. The Treasury Department on Monday said the program, which provides guarantees for the popular investment products, will now run until April 30. It had been slated to expire on Dec. 18. The department said it is taking the action “to support ongoing stability in this market.” Treasury set up the temporary program in September — a time of intense financial market turmoil — that led skittish investors to pull money out of the funds. Funds pay a fee for the program.

Solid laptop sales bolster H-P profits

Hewlett-Packard Co. edged past Wall Street’s forecast in the fiscal fourth quarter as strong laptop sales helped offset falling printer orders and weakness in some server lines. Profit slipped 2 percent while revenue grew 19 percent. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company reported Monday that it managed to notch a 21 percent increase in laptop revenue at a time when customers are scaling back spending in the face of the economic crisis.

Currency swings hurt soup maker

Campbell Soup Co.’s higher soup sales were watered down by commodity hedging losses in its first fiscal quarter, as the soup maker said Monday that profits fell 3.7 percent even as more cash-strapped consumers reached for its brands. Shares of the Camden, N.J.-based company tumbled 8 percent as investors worried about the nation’s largest soup maker’s ability to keep ahead of currency fluctuations and to translate a bigger thirst for soup into higher earnings. The company lowered its outlook for the year on worries about currency translation, which affects companies with sizable portions of their business overseas as the U.S. dollar gains strength.

Facebook wins sex spam case

Facebook has won an $873 million judgment against a Canadian man who bombarded the popular online hangout with sexually explicit “spam” messages. The victory, sealed with a judge’s order issued Friday, probably won’t yield a windfall for privately held Facebook Inc., whose revenue this year is expected to range between $250 million and $300 million. Court records indicate the alleged spammer, Adam Guerbuez of Montreal, has been difficult to find since Facebook sued him four months ago.

T-bill rates stay low in Monday auction

The Treasury Department auctioned three-month bills at a discount rate of 0.15 percent, unchanged from last week, the lowest on record. Six-month bills were auctioned at a discount rate of 0.49 percent, down from 0.84 percent last week and an all-time low. For a $10,000 bill, the three-month price was $9,996.25 while a six-month bill sold for $9,975.36. That would equal an annualized rate of 0.152 percent for the three-month bills, and 0.498 percent for the six-month bills. Separately, the Federal Reserve said Monday that the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for changing adjustable-rate mortgages, dropped to 0.96 percent last week, from 1.12 percent.

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