Dollars & Sense

Fed offering $100B to banks in auctions

The Federal Reserve announced Friday that it will auction an additional $100 billion in April to cash-strapped banks as it continues to combat the effects of a credit crisis. The central bank said it would make $50 billion available at each of two auctions, on April 7 and 21. Also, the Bush administration said it will propose Monday that Congress give the Federal Reserve broad new authority to oversee financial market stability, in effect allowing it to send "SWAT teams" into any corner of the industry or any institution that might pose a risk to the overall system.

J.C. Penney profits fall, stocks tumble

J.C. Penney, with stores anchoring malls nationwide, delivered fresh evidence Friday that the economy is faltering. The department store chain warned that first-quarter profits will be one-third lower than Wall Street expected, sending its shares tumbling nearly 14 percent at one point. Other retailers' stocks also dropped. While tax refunds might help for a while, Chief Executive Myron Ullman said, "We expect the continuation of a difficult environment over the course of 2008."

KB Home posts loss

KB Home, one of the nation's biggest home builders, said Friday that it posted a loss of more than $268 million in its first quarter as weak home sales amid a worsening housing market forced the company to take a large write-down related to falling home prices. Its shares fell nearly 5 percent Friday. Jeffrey Mezger, KB Home's president and chief executive, said a growing supply of unsold new and existing homes on the market, tight mortgage lending and industrywide discounting drove down sale prices and compressed margins.

Dollar climbs a bit

The dollar climbed against major currencies Friday even as U.S. data showed weak consumer spending. The 15-nation euro was down to $1.5760 in late New York trading, below its level of $1.5780 Thursday. The British pound fell to a record low against the euro after a British industry survey showed U.K. consumer confidence dropped to a 15-year low. The pound traded at $1.9916 late Friday in New York after dipping to $1.9880 earlier in the day.

Coming Sunday

Buyers of high-end sport motorcycles from San Francisco, Reno and as far away as Michigan are traveling to buy and get their bikes serviced at Modesto Ducati. The dealership on North Carpenter Road has been selling the Italian motorcycles for just six years, but it has developed a nationwide reputation for being easy to work with on sales and service that has buyers traveling past several closer dealerships.