Wednesday PM January 19th, 2011

President Barack Obama says improved economic relations with China are good for the United States, even as he and Chinese President Hu Jintao discussed some of the more thorny issues confronting the two superpowers. At a news conference with Hu, Obama called on China to let the free market determine the value of Chinese currency, saying it remains undervalued. He says he welcomes efforts by China to better police the theft of intellectual property, a major complaint by U.S. businesses. Obama announced major business deals that he says will increase U.S. exports to China by $45 billion and help create thousands of American jobs.


Builders broke ground on a total of 587,600 homes in 2010, just barely better than the 554,000 started in 2009. Those are the two worst years on records dating back to 1959. The Commerce Department says builders started work at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 529,000 new homes and apartments last month, a drop of 4.3% from November. In a healthy economy, builders start about one million units a year.


Federal regulators will require creditors and shareholders of big failing financial firms to accept some losses when the federal government steps in. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation approved the rule. Under the financial regulatory law enacted last summer, Congress gave the FDIC the authority to wind down troubled firms and sell off their assets to protect the broader financial system. The rule lets the FDIC make payments to some short-term creditors of the firms, such as for enabling them to continue operating and pay employees.


The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston is receiving a $150 million donation from the president of the United Arab Emirates. The largest donation awarded to an institution in the famed Texas Medical Center was announced by hospital officials and the foundation in Abu Dhabi for Sheik Khalifa Bin Zayed al Nahyan. The donation will fund M.D. Anderson's Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy.

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