General Growth Stocks Slide Downward, Global Economy Struggles

A little more than two weeks after CPN reported the ongoing woes of General Growth Properties Inc., the Washington Post reported this morning that the second-largest U.S. shopping mall owner had its worst trading day ever Tuesday after saying it may seek creditor protection if plans to refinance $958 million in debt do not succeed. General Growth dropped 64 percent to close at 49 cents–the firm’s biggest decline since its April 1993 IPO. The Post reported that the company may not be able to refinance or reschedule loans due Dec. 1, because of the crisis in the credit markets, according to a filing the Chicago-based company made after the close of regular trading Monday. It may also fail to rearrange $3.07 billion in debt maturing next year, according to the SEC filing. Around the world, oil prices slipped below $59 a barrel today in Asia as investors come to grips with the prospect that global growth next year will slow more than originally feared, cutting demand for crude products such as gasoline, according to an Associated Press report. Light, sweet crude for December delivery was down 60 cents to $58.73 a barrel, after falling as low as $58.55, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midafternoon in Singapore. The contract overnight fell $3.08 to settle at $59.33, the lowest closing price since March 2007, Associated Press  stated. American Express Co. advanced in German trading after the Wall Street Journal said the credit-card company most dependent on capital markets for fundraising is seeking about $3.5 billion of government aid, according to Bloomberg reports. Financial services company ING Groep NV reported a net loss of $609 million in the third quarter on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. ING, one of the 20 largest financial services groups globally, received a $12.7 billion investment lifeline from the Dutch government to shore up its cash reserves, according to the report. Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd., the operator of the city’s stock and derivatives exchanges, said Wednesday it incurred a HK$157 million loss on defaults by Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s ( LEH) Asian securities arm, CNNMoney reported. Hong Kong Exchanges reported earlier a 43 percent fall in its third-quarter net profit to HK$959.65 million from HK$1.68 billion a year earlier, as stock market turnover shrank. In Russia, the cost of protecting against a default by the country soared after the central bank increased the ruble’s trading band and lifted its benchmark interest rate to stem record capital outflows, Bloomberg reported. Credit-default swaps on Russian government bonds jumped to 7.17 percent of the amount insured from 6.14 percent yesterday, according to CMA Datavision prices. The yield on its 30-year dollar bonds increased to 10.77 percent from 9.1 percent, according to Bloomberg prices.