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Market Recap: Treasury Unloads AIG, GM’s Volt Losses, HP’S Layoffs, Amazon’s FCC Approval

Dan Ritter

Markets closed mostly down on Wall Street today:  Dow -0.39%, S&P -0.61%, Nasdaq -1.03%,  Oil +0.16%, Gold -0.31%.

On the commodities front, Oil (USO) climbed to $98.41 a barrel. Precious metals dropped with Gold (GLD) falling to $1,732.20 an ounce, while  Silver (SLV) fell 1.01% to $33.35.

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to today’s top stock stories:

The U.S. Treasury Department has announced it will sell off the majority of its stake in AIG (AIG) in an $18 billion offering later this month. The sale will cut the government’s stake from 53 percent to 20 percent, making it a minority investor in the world’s largest insurer for the first time since it rescued the company four years ago at the height of the global financial crisis. AIG said it plans to buy back $5 billion of shares being offered.

Hot Feature: Is Treasury’s AIG Sale Just Some More Political Maneuvering Ahead of Election 2012?

Recent estimates put the cost of production of General Motors’ (GM) Chevrolet Volt at $89,000. That’s a loss of $49,000 on each unit sold at a hefty price tag of $39,995. With an estimated $1.2 billion spent on development, which does not include marketing costs, it could be years before GM starts seeing green on its hybrid. With Honda (HMC), Ford (NYSE:F), and the hybrid-dominant Toyota (TM) stepping up competition in the same market, even the second-generation Volt could be a failure. GM disputes the estimates, saying it allocates Volt development cost over lifetime volume, not across the current quantity sold.

The latest 10-Q by H-P (HPQ) reveals the company plans to cut 29,000 jobs by the end of FY14 as a part of its restructuring and may incur charges of $3.7 billion related thereto. The company has more than 349,000 employees on its rolls.

Amazon (AMZN) is now accepting pre-orders for the $499 8.3-inch 4G enabled HD Kindle Fire, which is meant to challenge Apple’s (AAPL) iPad at the premium end of the market. The new Fire is expected to ship on November 20, except that the device hasn’t actually been approved by the Federal Communications Commission yet. The approval is most likely related specifically to the device’s 4G modem, but is not expected to delay the shipment.

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