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Originally published Monday, March 10, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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FBI said to probe Countrywide for possible fraud

The FBI is investigating Countrywide Financial, the nation's largest mortgage lender, for possible securities fraud, said a person familiar...

The FBI is investigating Countrywide Financial, the nation's largest mortgage lender, for possible securities fraud, said a person familiar with the probe.

Investigators are focusing on whether Countrywide officials misrepresented the firm's financial position and the quality of its loans in securities filings, said the person, who declined to be identified because he wasn't authorized to speak about the inquiry. He described the inquiry as preliminary.

Countrywide is among at least 14 companies the FBI is checking for possible accounting violations related to the subprime lending crisis, including mortgage lenders, housing developers and Wall Street firms that package loans as securities.

The FBI announced the review in January without identifying any of the companies.

Bank of America is buying Countrywide.

Boeing

All Nippon wants 787 delivery plan

All Nippon Airways, the first customer for Boeing's 787, demanded the jet maker provide a delivery schedule for the twice-delayed aircraft by the end of March, on which it will base compensation claims.

All Nippon has ordered 50 of the jets for new international routes starting in 2010.

The Japanese airline originally was to receive the first jet in May and all of them by March 2016. Now, it will not get the first plane until early next year.

The 787 program has been delayed because of unfinished parts from suppliers.

Microsoft

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Asian sales growth may top 16 percent

Microsoft forecast today that its sales in Asia may climb more than 16 percent this year, on demand in emerging markets including Vietnam and Indonesia.

Asian software-industry sales will increase 14 to 16 percent in 2008, said Emilio Umeoka, president of the company's Asia operations.

Microsoft plans to add to its 11,500 workers in Asia this year, Umeoka said, declining to specify figures.

Gasoline

Pump price hits record $3.20 a gallon

The average price of a gallon of regular gas rose 9 cents during the past two weeks to a record $3.20, according to the Lundberg survey of 7,000 filling stations nationwide.

The highest average price for self-serve regular was $3.58 in San Francisco. The lowest was in Cheyenne, Wyo., at $2.95.

The average price Sunday in the Seattle area was $3.52, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.

"We will probably see 20 or 30 cents more at the pump very soon, possibly within a month," publisher Trilby Lundberg said Sunday. "This is all if crude-oil prices don't slide substantially, and it doesn't seem likely that they will."

Rising gas prices have caused demand to fall 1.3 percent from a year ago, according to a U.S. Energy Department report last week.

MasterCard

Ameriprise to be credit-card lender

Asset manager Ameriprise Financial Services is pairing up with MasterCard to become a credit-card lender for the first time, the two companies planned to announce today. Financial terms were not disclosed.

For Ameriprise, whose more than 2 million clients are mostly wealthy, underwriting looks fairly low-risk. For MasterCard, the advantage is gaining a bit more market share in the affluent segment.

Ameriprise will issue its clients both MasterCard credit cards and debit cards.

Facebook

Blood type becomes part of networking

Facebook, the vast and expanding social networking Web site, is about to confront users with a serious new question: What's your blood type?

A program being officially introduced today by a nonprofit called Takes All Types aims to better coordinate where and when people donate blood in response to shortages and crises while encouraging broader donation overall.

For those who opt in, the system will send out alerts through Facebook — as well as by phone, fax, e-mail and text message — when their blood type is needed in their area.

It will also send out reminders for regular donations.

A high-technology, focused blood drive is the latest indication that Facebook, started in 2004 as a way for college students to stay in touch, has since become a place for people to link up for practically any reason, with civic-minded pursuits now playing a larger role.

Compiled from The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and The New York Times

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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