Business Highlights

AP News
Posted: May 18, 2012 5:56 PM
Business Highlights


Facebook falls flat in public debut

NEW YORK (AP) _ After all the hype, Facebook's first day as a public company ended where it began.

In its much-anticipated debut on the Nasdaq Stock Market, Facebook's stock closed Friday at $38.23, up 23 cents. It was priced at $38 per share on Thursday night.

After an anxiety-filled half-hour delay, its stock began trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market for the first time as investors were finally able to put a dollar value on the company that turned online social networking into a global cultural phenomenon.

The stock opened at $42.05, but soon dipped to $38.01. By midday it was up again at $40.40, a 6 percent increase. It fluttered throughout the afternoon, but it never hit the double-digit jump that many Facebook-watchers had expected. By the end of the day, more than 500 million shares had changed hands.


Facebook users weigh in on, well, Facebook

NEW YORK (AP) _ While Facebook's initial public offering Friday had all of Wall Street abuzz, its 900 million users had other things on their minds. They were busy sharing with the world their thoughts about the presidential election, Haitian Flag Day and the weekend.

That's not to say there wasn't plenty of discussion of Facebook's $104 billion deal. There was. But many Facebook users simply took note of it and went on gushing with friends about other aspects of their lives _ and maybe adding some photos they might one day regret.

On the day of the most highly anticipated offering in a decade, Facebook IPO conversations accounted for 0.25 percent of all online discussion during the first part of Friday, according to NM Incite, a social media research company. That's an increase of 5,000 percent relative to buzz one month ago.

Past IPOs for tech sweethearts didn't spark nearly as much online commentary. The chatter for Facebook's offering was four times greater than for LinkedIn's IPO and 10 times greater than for Groupon's IPO.


Global leaders seek to corral Europe crisis

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The leaders of eight of the world's biggest economies meet this weekend outside Washington, seeking to keep Europe's debt crisis from spiraling out of control and jeopardizing fledgling recoveries in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The turmoil in Greece is draining confidence in the 17 countries that use the euro. Borrowing costs are up for the most indebted governments. Depositors and investors are fleeing banks seen as weak. Unemployment is soaring as recession grips nearly half the eurozone countries. And global markets are on edge.

All that forms a tumultuous backdrop as representatives of the G8 countries _ the U.S., Germany, France, Britain, Japan, Russia, Italy and Canada _ head to Camp David. Standing in the way of a breakthrough are disagreements over how to bolster Europe's economy and avoid a broader financial catastrophe.


Unemployment rate falls in two-thirds of US states

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The unemployment rate fell in two-thirds of U.S. states last month, evidence that modest economic growth is boosting hiring in most areas of the country.

And in many states, unemployment has fallen well below the national average, which was 8.1 percent last month. The rate was under 7 percent in 22 states in April. That compares with only 13 states in April 2011.

The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate dropped in 37 states in April, the most in three months. Unemployment rose in 5 states and was unchanged in eight.


China rejects US ruling in solar dumping case

BEIJING (AP) _ China's government on Friday rejected a U.S. antidumping ruling against its makers of solar power equipment and Chinese manufacturers warned possible higher tariffs might hurt efforts to promote clean energy.

The conflict has worsened U.S.-Chinese trade tensions. The two governments have pledged to cooperate in developing renewable energy but accuse each other of violating free-trade pledges by subsidizing their own manufacturers.

Thursday's preliminary ruling by the Commerce Department said Chinese producers sold solar cells and panels below fair price and hurt American producers. If that is upheld, tariffs averaging 31 percent could be imposed on Chinese solar-panel imports.


Chesapeake Energy to cut pay of outside directors

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Natural gas and oil producer Chesapeake Energy Corp. said Friday that it will cut the pay of outside directors on its board by 20 percent and eliminate their use of company aircraft.

The company said it is making the moves after consulting with an independent compensation adviser. Chesapeake has already said it will cut its CEO's pay package and name an outsider as chairman of the board.

Outside directors will now be paid $100,000 cash and $250,000 in stock per year, the company said. They will be barred from using the company's fractionally owned aircraft for personal trips.


Glaxo undeterred by Human Genome `poison pill'

LONDON (AP) _ GlaxoSmithKline says it will persist with its bid to take over U.S. company Human Genome Sciences despite the target's new "poison pill" defense.

In a statement issued after the market closed on Thursday, GSK said it believes its $13 per share offer represents full value for HGS, its partner in developing new drug treatments.

Rockville, Maryland-based HGS on Thursday announced its defensive move, which will dilute holdings if anyone attempts to acquire 15 percent or more of its stock without board approval.


GM says Super Bowl ads too expensive and bows out

DETROIT (AP) _ For General Motors, the price isn't right when it comes to an ad during next year's Super Bowl.

The Detroit automaker said Friday that it won't be advertising on the Feb. 3 spectacle because of a steep price hike demanded by CBS, the network broadcasting the game.

A person with knowledge of advertising costs said Friday that CBS wants 25-to-30-percent more for air time than NBC charged during this year's game. Companies spent an average of $3.5 million for a 30-second commercial this year, meaning the increase would be at least $875,000 per ad. The person didn't want to be identified because the ad prices have not been made public.


Spain may have to revise its 2011 budget deficit

MADRID (AP) _ The Spanish government says it may have to revise its 2011 budget deficit upwards for a second time after spending by regional governments exceeded forecasts.

The Finance Ministry said in a statement that the deficit could reach 8.9 percent of GDP after four of its 17 regions overshot their expected budgets. The region were Madrid, Valencia, Andalusia and Castilla-Leon.

Spain's budget deficit is higher than the 3 percent threshold that was supposedly part of the euro's economic framework. The incoming government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had to revise the figure upwards to 8.5 percent of GDP from the 6 percent forecast by the previous Socialist government.


By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 73.11 points, to close at 12,369.38. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 9.64 points to close at 1,295.22. The Nasdaq composite index fell 34.90 points to close at 2,778.79.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.08 to finish at $91.48 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price many international varieties of oil, fell 35 cents to end at $107.14 in London.

Heating oil fell 1.9 cents to finish at $2.83 per gallon, gasoline futures rose 1.13 cents to end at $2.89 per gallon and natural gas increased 15 cents to finish at $2.74 per 1,000 cubic feet.