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In brief: AIG settles with former chairman

New York – American International Group Inc. has agreed to settle all legal disputes with its former chairman Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, the company said late Wednesday.

The insurance company, which was bailed out by the government and is now owned by U.S. taxpayers, also resolved its complaints against former Chief Financial Officer Howard I. Smith.

AIG said it will pay up to $150 million in past legal fees and expenses for both Greenberg and Smith.

Greenberg was ousted from New York-based AIG amid an accounting scandal in 2005. The Securities and Exchange Commission charged both Greenberg and Smith with misstating the company’s earnings.

Mark Herr, an AIG spokesman, said the legal costs AIG reimburses Greenberg and Smith may be covered at least partially by insurance.

Associated Press

Mortgage rates hit record low

McLean, Va. – Average rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell this week, matching a record low set last spring and more than a full percentage point below what they were a year ago, Freddie Mac said Wednesday.

Rates for 30-year mortgages averaged 4.78 percent this week, down from 4.83 percent last week and equaling the record low reached the week of April 30.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.29 percent, down from 4.32 percent last week, according to Freddie Mac.

Associated Press

Deere slumps in final quarter

Moline, Ill. – Deere and Co. says sales of tractors, combines and other agricultural mainstays slumped in the fourth quarter and it expects farmers to remain cautious about new equipment purchases because of the weak global economy.

The company ended fiscal 2009 with a profit of almost $874 million but lost $223 million in the fourth quarter due to charges related in part to pension costs and job cuts. Its sales of farm and construction equipment fell 28 percent in the fourth quarter. The company lost 53 cents a share in the three months ended Oct. 31 in contrast to a profit of $345 million, or 81 cents a share, a year earlier.

Deere’s shares, though, hit a 52-week high of $54.15 Wednesday before closing at $53.70, up $1.41; analysts said the company has handled the economic downturn well and is positioned to grow after what could be a tough 2010.

Deere, based in Moline, is the biggest U.S. maker of farm equipment, and sluggish economic conditions in the United States and much of the rest of the world continue to drive down demand for tractors, combines and the company’s other agricultural mainstays.

Associated Press


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