"I talk to Lee Charnley everyday, but no idea (on any budget) but still working".
Asked if there was a chance of history repeating itself, Benitez said: "I hope not, because we're working on a list of players and we have some names".
With 11 days gone, Benitez's confidence is ebbing away.
Benitez spoke to Ashley - who returned from a holiday in the US this week - last month.
Progress on incoming signings remains painfully slow, with a loan deal for Chelsea midfielder Kenedy now the brightest prospect, and in the meantime the manager is concentrating only on today's home clash with Swansea and the task of easing the club further clear of the drop zone.
Benitez had hoped to sign a player this week. But we do not want to sell anyone who will add value to the team and we can not loan out players if we do not have options to replace them'.
However, while claiming that he is not close to completing any deals, the Spaniard has suggested that fresh faces will arrive at St James' Park in the near future. United could instead subsidise a loan.More news: Charming 'Paddington 2' a treat for all ages
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Speaking ahead of Saturday's visit of bottom-of-the-table Swansea, Benitez remained typically coy when asked about Newcastle's chances of strengthening their squad before the end of January's transfer deadline.
"We are not thinking of selling players that are playing already".
"I've made it clear we need some help".
Looking ahead to this weekend's crucial fixture against Swansea, Benitez says he is not expecting an easy game. The 57-year-old has been reluctant to talk about the transfer window in his recent press conferences, though that position could change.
It has been another hard week on Tyneside with takeover and transfer talk still occupying minds, as well as the ongoing investigation into under-23s coach Peter Beardsley.