Bid & Ask

1. Microsoft (MSFT), PepsiCo (PEP), and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) are among a host of U.S. companies taking advantage of record-low interest rates by borrowing money to buy their own shares. American companies have announced nearly $258 billion in buybacks this year, compared with $125 billion in all of 2009.

2. Brazil's central bank spent $5.9billion in the first 12 business days of September buying dollars in an effort to fight appreciation of the real. Brazil's currency has gained 34percent since the beginning of 2009 as investors have grown bullish about the country's economic prospects.

3. Spanish builder Actividades de Construcción & Servicios launched an unsolicited $3.5 billion offer for German developer Hochtief, in which it already owns a 30 percent stake.

4. IBM (IBM) agreed to pay $1.7 billion for Netezza, a Massachusetts data warehouse company that counts NYSE Euronext (NYX) among its clients. IBM CEO Sam Palmisano said in May that he plans to spend about $20 billion on acquisitions in the next five years.

5. Safran, a French maker of aerospace equipment, is paying $1.6 billion for a majority stake in L-1 Identity Solutions, a U.S. company that specializes in biometric technology.

6. France Telecom is buying a 40 percent stake in Moroccan mobile carrier Médi Telecom for $856 million. The French carrier is seeking to expand abroad to offset a sluggish market at home.

7. McMoRan Exploration (MMR), a partner in some of the largest U.S. offshore oil discoveries of the past decade, is paying $818 million for stakes in wells in the Gulf of Mexico.

8. Clorox (CLX) is selling its Armor All and STP brands of car products to Avista Capital Partners for $780 million.

9. The Olsen Twins sold a penthouse in downtown New York for $7.7 million. The property, which had been on the market since 2005, once had an asking price of almost $12 million.

10. Christie's logged a record for an e-mailed bid: $3.3 million for a 12th century Chinese bronze.

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