David Sokol, once a candidate to succeed Warren Buffett as the head of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., resigned after helping to negotiate the acquisition of a company whose shares he had purchased. Sokol, 54, bought about 96,000 Lubrizol Corp. shares before recommending the company as a takeover target, Buffett, Berkshire's chief executive, said. Buffett said he didn't ask for the resignation and that Sokol's stock purchases were legal. Lubrizol, an Ohio maker of engine lubricants, agreed this month to be purchased by Berkshire for about $9 billion.

Fed spurns AIG attempt to buy back bonds

American International Group Inc.'s effort to buy back a massive mortgage bond portfolio that caused its near demise was nixed by the Federal Reserve, a move that an angry AIG said may curb any profits that U.S. taxpayers see as a result of government ownership of the firm. The Federal Reserve said it has declined AIG's $15.7 billion offer to purchase all of the assets in Maiden Lane II LLC, a pool of mortgage bonds turned over in 2008, amid the insurance giant's meltdown.

U.S. could profit from financial meltdown

The U.S. government's broad effort to restore financial stability may be deeply unpopular but may end up in the black. A new Treasury Department calculation of the total cost of all the government's rescue efforts said the programs will eventually result in a net profit to taxpayers of approximately $23.6 billion. According to the new estimate posted on the agency's website, the rescue plan's bottom line is bolstered by $110 billion in expected profit from the Federal Reserve's market liquidity programs.

American is latest to cut flights to Japan

American Airlines suspended two of six daily Japan flights on declining demand as it prepared to start a revenue-sharing joint venture with Japan Airlines. American will drop a daily flight from New York's John F. Kennedy International to Tokyo's Haneda airport and one of two daily trips from Dallas-Fort Worth International to Narita starting April 6, said Ed Martelle, an American spokesman.

Optimism on rise among CEOs, survey says

Chief executives of the largest U.S. companies plan to hire more workers over the next six months amid expectations that the economy will grow faster than they previously believed, according to a survey. The Business Roundtable said its quarterly survey of top CEOs suggests the economy will expand by 2.9 percent in 2011, up from a prior forecast of 2.5 percent. That's largely in line with forecasts of other economists.

FROM NEWS SERVICES