Banking

Business Digest

Autos

General Motors Corp., the largest U.S. automaker, has asked the Treasury Department for financial aid to help complete a merger with Cerberus Capital Management LP's Chrysler LLC, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Wall Street Journal reported late Monday that the Energy Department is working to release $5 billion in loans to GM, which would help spur a merger with Chrysler.

The funds would come from the $25 billion in low-interest loans approved last month for the auto industry to build more-efficient vehicles, not the $700 billion banking-system rescue, the Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Federal aid may boost cash for the money-losing automakers while they await merger savings that may take months to realize. The U.S. auto market may shrink this year to the smallest since 1993 as the credit crunch and a slowing economy crimp demand. Bloomberg News

Retail

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Monday it's scaling back the growth of its U.S. stores and will focus on remodeling existing locations as the world's largest retailer navigates through a tough consumer spending climate.

Eduardo Castro-Wright, president and chief executive of Wal-Mart's U.S. division, told analysts at its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., that the company plans to open 191 stores in fiscal 2009 and from 142 to 157 stores in fiscal 2010. That compares to 218 stores opened in fiscal 2008. Associated Press

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