Money in a Minute: Headlines for March 2, 2011

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Today in the news: Global markets slip on oil, Republicans propose budget cuts for Wall Street regulators, Cadillac sells more by adding incentives, U.S. manufacturing jumps to record highs, and so do iPhone sales for Verizon.

STOCKS: World markets slip on oil

US Stocks tumbled 1.4 percent yesterday and markets worldwide are following suit today. Britain’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC-40 are all lower in early trading this morning.   In Japan, the Nikkei 225 stock average fell 2.4 percent, and markets in other parts of Asia and Australia are also lower.

It’s all about oil: if crude prices stay high, the fear is that the worldwide economic recovery could be derailed.  Oil gained $2.66/barrel yesterday to just under $100/barrel.

CONSUMER PROTECTION: Regulators: Wall Street reform at risk

If you can’t beat em, starve em.

House Republicans are proposing cutting the budgets of the two  biggest agencies regulating securities – the Commodities Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission – by $56.8 million and $25 million respectively.  In the case of the CFTC, that amounts to a third of their entire budget.

CNN quotes CFTC chairman Gary Gensler: “We’d have to have significant curtailment of our staff and resources,” Gensler said. “We would not be able to police … or ensure transparent markets in futures or swaps.”

CARS: Cadillac tops Lexus, Mercedes, as BMW leads U.S. luxury sales

What recession? “Cadillac’s U.S. sales rose 70 percent from a year ago,” Bloomberg reports. “It topped Lexus and Mercedes for the first time since June 2005.” It may not be coincidence, though, that Cadillac’s incentive spending also rose 43 percent.

INDUSTRY: Manufacturing grows at fastest pace in 7 years

The good news is that U.S. manufacturing is on a torrid pace. But bad news looms: “U.S. manufacturers expanded at the fastest pace in nearly seven years last month,” MSNBC reports. “But a sudden rise in the price of raw materials could threaten their profits.”

TECH: Verizon iPhone 4 sales are ‘best in history,’ CEO says

Just because iPhone lovers weren’t lining up at Verizon stores doesn’t mean the phone hasn’t sold well. “Verizon sold more iPhone 4’s during its initial launch than any other phone in the carrier’s history,” PC Magazine reports. But, “more than 60 percent of all Verizon iPhone 4 sales so far occurred online.”

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