Greek politics, Spain banks test eurozone survival
2012-05-18 17:50:09 UTC
MADRID (AP) — Chaos in Greek politics and Spanish banking combined this week to underscore just how fragile Europe's economy remains after an eviscerating austerity regime that has spawned unemployment, desperation and misery. And there is no respite in sight, as Germany's finance minister predicted Friday that the crisis could last up to another two years.
Wolfgang Shaeuble, who holds the region's purse strings, chastized the leaders of the world's biggest economies as they headed to Washington for a weekend summit that efforts to fix the crisis over the past few years "weren't good enough." The leaders, he told French Radio Europe 1, ...
Wal-Mart's 1Q profit up 10.1 percent
2012-05-17 22:13:33 UTC
NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart may have gotten its groove back, but an alleged bribery scheme threatens to curtail its progress.
As Wal-Mart reported first-quarter profit on Thursday that beat Wall Street estimates, the world's largest retailer also disclosed that it is expanding an internal probe into alleged bribes at its Mexico unit to include other countries.
Wal-Mart also acknowledged in a government filing that the accusations could hurt the company and that media coverage of the scandal could harm its reputation as a corporate citizen. The company listed possible scenarios that could arise from an investigation, from fines to crimin...
Oil hovers below $93 after sharp 2-week sell-off
2012-05-18 05:41:51 UTC
SINGAPORE (AP) — Oil prices hovered below $93 a barrel Friday in Asia, pausing after the latest twists in Europe's debt crisis triggered a sharp two-week selloff.
Benchmark oil for June delivery was up 4 cents to $92.60 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 25 cents to settle at $92.56 in New York on Thursday.
Brent crude for July delivery was up 11 cents at $107.60 per barrel in London.
Crude has plunged about 13 percent from $106 two weeks ago because of expectations Europe's debt crisis will slow the global economy and reduce demand for fuel.
Facebook's $16 billion IPO one of world's largest
2012-05-17 22:00:01 UTC
NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook's initial public offering of stock is shaping up to be one of the largest ever. The world's definitive online social network is raising at least $16 billion, a big windfall for a company that began eight years ago with no way to make money.
Facebook priced its IPO at $38 per share on Thursday, at the high end of its expected range. If extra shares reserved to cover additional demand are sold as part of the transaction, Facebook Inc. and its early investors stand to reap as much as $18.4 billion from the IPO.
The IPO values the company at around $104 billion, slightly more than Amazon.com, and well above well-...
Companies ask: Does advertising on Facebook pay?
2012-05-17 01:43:33 UTC
NEW YORK (AP) — Responding to extraordinary demand, Facebook said Wednesday that it would sell more stock in the company's initial public offering. But ahead of the IPO, a debate emerged between two of the nation's largest automakers: Does it pay to advertise on the social network?
General Motors, the nation's largest automaker, said it would abandon Facebook ads after concluding they were ineffective. At the same time, Ford reaffirmed its commitment to Facebook, saying their relationship was stronger than ever.
The direct financial impact of GM's move is minimal for Facebook, but the decision drew attention to the network's advertis...
Price of oil still falling as supplies grow
2012-05-16 23:48:33 UTC
NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil continues to decline on the expectation that world markets will be flush with extra supplies this year.
Benchmark U.S. crude on Wednesday fell by $1.17 to finish at a seven-month low of $92.81 per barrel in New York. Oil is down nearly 13 percent since the beginning of May.
Brent crude, which helps set the price of oil imported into the U.S., fell by $1.70 to finish at $109.75 per barrel in London.
Prices fell as a report showed that U.S. crude supplies had climbed to the highest level in 22 years. Supplies grew last week by 2.1 million barrels, according to the Energy Information Administration. T...
Facebook raises IPO price as offering nears
2012-05-15 19:59:49 UTC
NEW YORK (AP) — Already expected to be the largest-ever initial public offering for an Internet company, Facebook is making its IPO even bigger.
The world's largest online social network on Tuesday increased the planned price range for its stock to $34 to $38 per share in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That's up from its previous range of $28 to $35. At the upper limit of $38, the sale would raise about $12.8 billion.
The move, which values Facebook as high as $104 billion, comes amid growing investor excitement about the offering. Analysts are comparing the frenzy surrounding Facebook's IPO to Google Inc.'s in...
Oil starts week at lowest level in 2012
2012-05-14 17:23:58 UTC
NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil has declined to its low for the year on continued doubts about Europe's ability to pay off massive government debts.
Benchmark U.S. crude lost $1.57 to $94.56 per barrel in New York. It dipped to $93.65 per barrel earlier in the day, the lowest since mid-December.
Oil declined as a leadership crisis in Greece raised doubts that it would comply with a eurozone-supported plan to get out of debt. Analysts see Greece as a test case for whether cash-strapped European nations can slash spending and improve their economies. Europe consumes 18 percent of the world's oil.
In the U.S., retail gasoline prices...
Is Europe a safe place to buy? Not exactly
2012-05-12 16:24:40 UTC
NEW YORK (AP) — It often pays to zig when everybody else zags. If you were brave enough to put cash into the stock market three years ago — and very few small investors were — you've doubled your money.
European stocks have lost about 15 percent since mid-March. Renewed worries about the region's long-running debt crisis have rattled markets. So it might look like a chance to buy cheap.
The trouble, money managers say, is that nobody knows when the crisis there will end. Most of them predict it will get worse, perhaps far worse, before it gets better.
"You can't pick the bottom," says Martin Jansen, lead manager for international ...
EU predicts 0.3 pct eurozone contraction in 2012
2012-05-11 13:40:51 UTC
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union estimates that the economy of the 17 countries that use the euro is in recession in the wake of a debt crisis that has prompted savage spending cuts and a jump in unemployment to record highs.
The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, forecasts that the eurozone economy will contract by 0.3 percent in 2012 and grow by 1 percent next year. Its prediction for 2012 is far weaker than the one it gave last November, when it predicted growth of 0.5 percent. A year ago it was predicting growth of 1.8 percent.
Friday's forecasts provide clear evidence of the impact of Europe's debt crisis on the...
Panasonic loss balloons for record red ink
2012-05-11 13:34:04 UTC
TOKYO (AP) — Panasonic's January-March losses ballooned 10-fold to 438 billion yen ($5 billion), completing a year of record red ink at the Japanese electronics maker battered by natural disasters and an ailing TV business.
Panasonic Corp. had racked up a 40.7 billion yen loss the same period the previous year.
The Osaka-based maker of Viera TVs and Lumix digital cameras reported Friday a record loss of 772.2 billion yen ($9.6 billion), a reversal from the 74 billion yen profit a year ago and among the biggest in Japan's manufacturing history.
That comes a day after Panasonic's archrival Sony Corp. racked up a record annual loss o...
Cheaper gas drives US wholesale price index lower
2012-05-11 13:21:42 UTC
WASHINGTON (AP) — A big decline in gas and energy costs drove a measure of U.S. wholesale prices lower in April. But outside that drop, inflation was tame.
The Labor Department said Friday that the producer price index, which measures price changes before they reach the consumer, dropped 0.2 percent last month. It was the first decline since December and the biggest drop since October.
Wholesale gas prices tumbled 1.7 percent. That accounted for half the drop in energy costs, which was the only major category to decline last month.
Excluding volatile food and energy costs, the so-called core index rose 0.2 percent.
For the 12 m...
Germany raises forecast for 2012 tax revenues
2012-05-10 20:59:37 UTC
BERLIN (AP) — Germany says it expects its tax income over the next few years to be slightly higher than previously predicted due to a healthy job market and rising personal incomes.
The Finance Ministry said Thursday that tax experts predicted a total revenues of €596.5 billion ($773.5 billion) this year for Germany's federal, state and municipal governments. That's about €4.5 billion more than what they predicted last November.
The forecast for 2013 rose nearly €5 billion to €618.1 billion and predictions for the following three years also increased.
Germany, Europe's biggest economy, has remained healthy while many other countri...
US deficit looms large despite April surplus
2012-05-10 18:24:31 UTC
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government took in more money than it spent in April, the first monthly surplus in nearly four years.
But that black ink won't last. The federal government is on track to exceed a $1 trillion deficit for the fourth straight year, keeping the contentious issue front and center during the 2012 presidential election.
The Treasury Department said Thursday that the U.S. deficit totaled $719 billion through the first seven months of the budget year, which began on Oct. 1. That's $150 billion lower than a year ago.
For April, the government recorded its first surplus in 43 months — $59.1 billion. That's not unu...
Cisco's sobering forecast overshadows 3Q earnings
2012-05-10 01:36:04 UTC
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Cisco raised the specter late Wednesday of a jarring slowdown in technology spending, alarming investors already fretting about the economy's fragile condition.
The red flag hoisted by the world's largest maker of computer-networking equipment overshadowed a solid showing in Cisco's most recent quarter.
Investors instead fixated on a sobering forecast for the current quarter from Cisco Systems Inc. CEO John Chambers. He attributed the grim outlook to skittish customers who are waiting longer to close deals and spending less money because of growing concerns about the economy, particularly in Europe and India.
Europe at the crossroads: splinter or unite
2012-05-09 20:05:39 UTC
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union, a hope for peace that rose from the fires of World War II, paused Wednesday to honor its past and ponder its future — and how it can ensure it still has one in light of the anti-austerity anger expressed this week by voters in France and Greece.
May 9 is Europe Day, a commemoration of a key event that led to the creation of the modern EU. It was on this day in 1950 that French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman issued a declaration calling for an integrated Europe.
Tens of millions of Europeans had perished in twin cataclysms of World Wars I and II. At root, Schuman's dream was simple: He wanted an ec...
Oil rises after China trade exceeds expectations
2013-02-08 06:47:16 UTC
BANGKOK (AP) — Oil prices rose above $96 a barrel Friday after China reported better-than-expected monthly trade data, a sign that its economic recovery is gaining traction.
Benchmark oil for March delivery was up 25 cents to $96.08 at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The contract fell 79 cents to finish at $95.83 on the Nymex on Thursday after the head of the European Central Bank expressed concern over a recent rise in the euro. A strong euro hurts the export prospects of the 17 countries that use the common currency. It also tends to result in higher oil prices by making crude...
Toyota quarterly profit quadruples on recovery
2012-05-09 07:23:20 UTC
TOKYO (AP) — Toyota's January-March profit more than quadrupled to 121 billion yen ($1.5 billion) from the previous year, and the automaker gave upbeat forecasts for this fiscal year, marking a solid recovery from a hardship-filled year following the tsunami in Japan.
Toyota Motor Corp.'s profit for the fiscal year ended March plunged 30 percent to 283.6 billion yen ($3.5 billion), down from 408 billion yen the previous fiscal year, as last year's tsunami damaged supply chains in northeastern Japan and hobbled Toyota production around the world.
But, in a sign of solid recovery, Japan's No. 1 automaker forecast Wednesday its profit s...
Gas price likely won't set record this summer
2012-05-09 07:19:41 UTC
NEW YORK (AP) — Gasoline prices likely won't set any records this summer, thanks to a recent drop in the price of oil.
The government on Tuesday slashed its forecast for average gas prices to $3.79 per gallon for the summer driving season. That's down from an initial estimate of $3.95 and below 2008's record average of $3.80.
The Energy Information Administration's revised forecast is encouraging news for the economy. Some economists blame high pump prices for so-so consumer spending this year. They were also seen as a factor in the loss of 35,000 retail jobs in February and March.
Gasoline prices soared 20 percent from January to...
There's room at inn for Olympics _ but it'll cost
2012-05-08 10:11:57 UTC
LONDON (AP) — It's months before athletes hit the Olympic track, but time is running out for those in another fierce competition: The scramble for a place to stay in London.
Some innkeepers will be charging Ritz rates for Fawlty Towers rooms — and they will get away with it.
A limited hotel supply and unprecedented demand from almost a million tourists, media and businesspeople tied to the London Games means that accommodation in the British capital — never a bargain to start with — is more expensive than ever this summer.
That guarantees a bumper year for London's hotel and rental sectors, but a nightmare for those who have been ...
Asia stocks rise as Europe shockwaves fade
2012-05-08 09:54:43 UTC
BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets staged a modest recovery Tuesday as the initial shockwaves from election results in Europe faded. Trading is expected to remain volatile as Greece struggles to form a government after voters punished pro-austerity parties.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index edged up 0.6 percent to 9,172.09, a day after closing at its lowest level in three months. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.3 percent to 20,596.28.
South Korea's Kospi added 0.5 percent to 1,966.34 while benchmarks in Taiwan and Singapore also rose. As often happens, mainland Chinese stocks ran contrary to overseas trends and fell.
Markets were thrown into ...
IFC, MasterCard Foundation partner in Africa
2012-05-07 18:32:14 UTC
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The World Bank partner devoted to developing the private sector and The MasterCard Foundation will spend millions of dollars so more impoverished Africans can get loans and other financial services, officials said Monday.
At a Johannesburg news conference Monday, officials from the International Finance Corporation, which is part of the World Bank group, and The MasterCard Foundation said they would spend $37.4 million over five years to support banks and other institutions across Africa that provide small loans, a strategy known as microfinancing. People around the world have used such loans to lift themselves out o...
Oil price drops to lowest point of 2012
2012-05-07 17:51:03 UTC
NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil dropped Monday to its lowest level of the year after elections in Europe created uncertainty over the region's plan for recovery.
In afternoon trading, benchmark U.S. crude lost $1.10 to $97.39 per barrel in New York. It fell as low as $95.34 per barrel earlier in the day, 10 cents below the previous low set on Feb. 2.
Oil prices declined after voters in France and Greece rejected incumbent leaders who supported austerity measures to fix the region's struggling economy. French voters elected a new president, socialist Francois Hollande, who promised to boost spending. Greek voters ousted numerous pro-...
April retail sales worst since 2009
2012-05-03 18:22:23 UTC
NEW YORK (AP) — Americans' spending — much like the economy — continues to yo-yo.
Major retailers such as Costco and Macy's reported on Thursday that April revenue rose less that 1 percent in the worst performance since 2009 when the U.S. economy was just coming out of a bad recession.
The disappointing results follow two consecutive months of strong sales that were boosted by positive economic news about the jobs and housing markets.
"The economy is growing in fits and starts, and we are seeing sales shoot up and down," said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist at International Council of Shopping Centers. "We're in a choppy perio...
Oil price falls on concerns about global economy
2012-05-02 19:48:54 UTC
NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices fell Wednesday on concerns of a weakening European economy and disappointing job growth in the U.S.
Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude gave up 86 cents to $105.30 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which helps set the price of oil imported into the U.S., lost $1.35 to $118.31 per barrel in London.
Prices dropped after a survey showed that Europe's manufacturing industry is slowing down. Germany's unemployment figures also increased in April. That's happened only twice in more than two years. A separate report says U.S. businesses added 119,000 jobs in April, far lower than the 201,000 added in March....