FBI investigating IndyMac for possible fraud

The FBI is investigating failed bank IndyMac Bancorp Inc. for possible fraud, an official said Wednesday of the government's latest target following the collapse of the nation's subprime mortgage market. It was not immediately clear when the investigation began -- or whether it was opened before Friday's takeover of IndyMac by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The investigation appears to be focused on the company and not individuals who ran it, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.

Merrill Lynch to sell its stake in Bloomberg

Merrill Lynch & Co., the third-biggest U.S. securities firm, dropped efforts to sell a stake in BlackRock Inc. and struck a deal to sell its 20 percent share of Bloomberg, according to people familiar with the decision. Merrill, poised to report a second-quarter loss Thursday, stood to gain about $2 billion on its 49.8 percent stake in BlackRock, the largest publicly traded U.S. fund manager, based on its current market value. Merrill agreed to sell its investment in the parent of Bloomberg News for $4.5 billion, a person familiar with Merrill's plans said.

Home builder confidence is lowest on record

A home builders' trade group said its gauge for builders' confidence plunged this month to the lowest level since record keeping began more than 20 years ago. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing market index fell in July to a record low of 16, down from 18 in June, the Washington trade group said Wednesday. The index has been on a downward trajectory since May as the industry's fortunes have soured.

Wall Street Journal cutting 50 editorial jobs

The Wall Street Journal is eliminating 50 editorial positions as part of a realignment that combines editorial oversight for its print and online editions, managing editor Robert Thomson said Wednesday. The job cuts are primarily at the Journal's South Brunswick, N.J., offices, which the paper opened shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks near its headquarters on Wall Street. In June, Thomson began revamping the Journal's newsroom leadership structure to facilitate cooperation among print and online reporters and those at Dow Jones News Service, the company's real-time financial news service.

Food, fuel drive euro-region inflation to 4%

Soaring fuel and food prices drove inflation to a record high of 4 percent and car sales tumbled in June in the euro region, according to statistics published Wednesday. The European Union's statistics service Eurostat confirmed that inflation across the 15 nations that share the euro hit the highest level since records began 16 years ago -- as transport fuel, food and housing costs rose. Meanwhile, euro zone sales of new cars fell 8.3 percent in June, the European carmakers' association ACEA said, blaming rising inflation and rocketing fuel prices.