Waiting on the Fed

Asian markets closed higher this morning, but U.S. investors were cautious as they waited to hear from the Federal Reserve. (AP in Yahoo! Finance) Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke boosted markets yesterday by signaling that the Fed was "prepared to act as needed," but a report in today's Wall Street Journal suggested that the Fed was hesitant to rescue investors. (CNNMoney.com) Lehman Brothers added to the gloom, suggesting that the credit-market turmoil will hurt the largest U.S. securities firms. There's "a wall of worry to climb between now and October," said Lehman analyst Roger Freeman. (Bloomberg)

Altria to split Philip Morris units

Tobacco giant Altria Group said it will spin off its Philip Morris International subsidiary, creating a cigarette maker with more growth potential and less exposure to U.S. lawsuits. The new company will be headquartered in Switzerland under Altria CEO Louis Camilleri. Philip Morris USA CEO Michael Szymanczyk will take the reins at Altria, which will move from New York City to Richmond, Va. (AP in Los Angeles Times, free registration required) The split makes sense, said Matthew Kaufler at Clover Capital Management. "Tobacco is growing overseas," he said, "while in the U.S. it's in decline." (Bloomberg)

Yahoo shakes things up

Yahoo's new president, Susan Decker, is replacing the company's top sales executive and creating a new division that will be responsible for bringing in the bulk of Yahoo's revenue. The new "global partners solutions" unit will allow Yahoo to coordinate advertising with a broader range of business partners, including eBay, Comcast, and newspapers. (Reuters) It will be led by Decker protegee Hilary Schneider. Standard & Poor's analyst Scott Kessler said that Decker is "making her impression in the organization from a management perspective." (The New York Times, free registration required)

For your health, no money down 

Health care consumers are taking a cue from car and couch buyers, paying for elective medical procedures with zero-interest loans. And the default rate for those seeking $6,000 ceramic tooth implants or $3,500 laser eye surgeries is low, helping make medical credit one of the fastest-growing consumer-credit areas. But as with all loans, consumers should tread carefully. "Unless they are at risk of losing life or limb, people should be very cautious about putting medical bills on credit cards," said Mark Rukavina of the Access Project. (The New York Times, free registration required)