By Deepa Seetharaman and Nadia Damouni DETROIT/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co's board of directors plans to press Chief Executive Alan Mulally soon for a decision on his future, as speculation intensifies that he may be offered the job of CEO at Microsoft Corp. Mulally, 68, is one of a handful of candidates still in contention for the Microsoft role, according to several sources close to the technology giant, and he has not tried to dispel talk that he is interested in the job. That has begun to vex some on Ford's board, two sources told Reuters this week, and the issue will be discussed when the board meets in the Detroit area on Thursday. Microsoft declined comment on the progress of its CEO search, and a Ford spokesman repeated earlier statements that Mulally is slated to stay as Ford CEO through 2014, although it emerged in September that the board would be open to him leaving earlier than that. Sources with knowledge of the tech company's hunt for a new leader say Mulally is among a "handful" of contenders, and that Microsoft is strongly considering a younger, more tech-savvy external candidate.
By Dominic Lau TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares stumbled to a 2-1/2 month low on Thursday on heightened expectations the Federal Reserve may act sooner than later to unwind its stimulus after a provisional budget deal in Washington eased some of the fiscal drag on the U.S. economy. In Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei lost 1.1 percent, extending declines into a third day. Still, the index, powered by Tokyo's aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus, has rallied nearly 48 percent so far this year, on track for its best yearly gain since 1972. Overnight, U.S. stocks posted their biggest drop in a month, with the Standard & Poor's 500 down 1.1 percent, as traders locked in recent gains after Congress announced the provisional budget deal.
Stanley Fischer, who led the Bank of Israel for eight years until he stepped down in June, has been asked to be the Federal Reserve's next vice chair once Janet Yellen takes over as chief of the U.S. central bank, a source familiar with the issue said on Wednesday. Fischer, 70, is widely respected as one of the world's top monetary economists. He is seen as a pragmatic policymaker and has praised the Fed's extraordinary steps to boost the U.S. economy. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he once taught current Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank president.