Government in March sold $621M worth of GM stock

Gas prices dropped 7.4 percent in November -- the biggest decline in almost four years. Also, one of the developers of the bar code, Norman Woodland, died at the age of 91. And General Motors says it plans to hire hundreds of workers to make engines for two popular pickup trucks. Erika Ferrari reports on this and the latest financial news.

DETROIT The government has sold another piece of its stake in General Motors (GM).

The Treasury Department said in its March report to Congress that it sold $621 million worth of GM common stock last month.

"To date, Treasury has recovered approximately $30.4 billion of its investment in GM through repayments, sales of stock, dividends, interest, and other income," reported Treasury on Wednesday.

The government since 2008 issued $49.5 billion in rescue aid to the automaker, which is based in Detroit. Taxpayers are still $19.1 billion in the hole.

The price for each share sold in March will be revealed at a later date, according to Treasury.

GM stock sold in a range of $26.75 to $29.30 in March. At the midpoint of $28, the government would have sold roughly 22.2 million shares.

That would leave it with about 255 million shares. Those would have to sell for around $75 each for the government to break even, more than double the current trading price. GM shares closed up 84 cents, or 3 percent, at $28.37 amid a broad market rally on Wednesday.

In January, the Treasury announced a plan to sell the shares by early 2014 and said that it hired JPMorgan (JPM) Securities and Citigroup (C) Global Markets to conduct the sale. The banks will get one cent for every share they sell, for a fee of up to $3 million.

When the government finally sells all of its shares, it will end a sad chapter in GM's history. The company nearly ran out of cash in 2008 and needed government money to survive a trip through bankruptcy reorganization. Since then GM has posted 12 straight profitable quarters. Last year the company bought 200 million of its shares from the government for $5.5 billion.

GM shares sold for $33 each when they began publicly trading again in November, 2010. The shares rose shortly after the sale but fell dramatically early last year as the economy slowed and Europe headed toward recession. A strengthening U.S. economy and the stock buyback have pushed the shares higher.