- U.S. President Barack Obama ordered General Motors (GM.N) Corp and Chrysler LLC to accelerate their turnaround efforts and three European governments came to the aid of struggling lenders, sending stocks down and government bonds up on renewed worries about the health of the global financial system
- GM CEO Rick Wagoner resigned under pressure from Obama administration; Chrysler says it has framework in place for alliance with Italy's Fiat FIA.MI; Canada worked with U.S. on sector restructuring
- The G20 nations will commit in London to pursue responsible policies that do not hurt each other's prospects with protectionism or currency devaluations - draft statement
- Ireland dealt a blow when ratings agency Standard & Poor's cut its AAA credit rating to AA-plus. Hungary's credit rating also downgraded
- Bank of England forced to organize a takeover of Scottish building society Dunfermline and providing 1.6 billion pounds ($2.27 billion) to back the deal
- Japanese industrial output slides for fifth consecutive month, but some tentative recovery signs spotted
- Spain makes first banking rescue since financial crisis began as regional lenders battered by slumping property prices
- U.S. stocks drop as the Obama administration raises the specter of bankruptcy for GM and Chrysler. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 254.16 points, or 3.27 percent, to end unofficially at 7,522.02. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 28.41 points, or 3.48 percent, to 787.53. The Nasdaq Composite Index slid 43.40 points, or 2.81 percent, to 1,501.80.
- U.S. bank shares were hit hard, with the KBW Bank index .BKX shedding 10.3 percent.
- GM shares fell 25.4 percent to $2.70.
- European shares ended lower, with banks falling after Spanish bailout. FTSEurofirst 300 down 3.85 percent at 709.10 points.
- Dollar and yen rallied in flight to safety. The euro EUR= was down 0.80 percent at $1.3192. Against the yen, the dollar JPY= fell 0.64 percent at 97.22
- Oil dropped by more than 7 percent to below $49 a barrel, pulled down by a stronger U.S. dollar and weaker stocks.
- U.S. government debt prices rose. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note US10YT=RR rose 14/32 in price to yield 2.71 percent. The 2-year U.S. Treasury note US2YT=RR rose 4/32 in price to yield 0.86 percent.
- Spot gold prices XAU= fell $4.40 to $916.65.
"We cannot, we must not, and we will not let our auto industry simply vanish. It is a pillar of our economy that has held up the dreams of millions of our people" - President Obama.
"(GM CEO Wagoner) was very much an incrementalist and in the end it just wasn't enough. The economy right now is exposing all of the car companies. None of them are viable. It's just that some of them have deeper pockets than GM." - Jeremy Anwyl, chief executive of autos website Edmunds.com.
"We are prepared to do whatever is necessary to restore the world economy to the growth it needs." - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. "The discussions ... will show results...by the time we get to Thursday."
"The market will be on high alert for any comments that the ECB may be moving further into the realm of unorthodox monetary policy." - Sue Trinh, a senior currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets in Sydney.
"Although the level of (Japanese) production per se is very low, it appears that output is nearing a bottom for the time being as manufacturers surveyed say they expect production to rise in March as well as April." - Hiroshi Shiraishi, economist, BNP Paribas, Tokyo
(all times GMT)
TUESDAY, March 31
WASHINGTON - Senate Banking Committee meets to consider credit card reform legislation introduced by Chairman Christopher Dodd.
THURSDAY, April 2
LONDON - Leaders from established and emerging economies meet under pressure to restore confidence and plot a pathway to recovery out of economic crisis. (Compiled by World Desk, Washington, +1 202 898 8469)