Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Oct 18, 2012 6:02 PM
Business Highlights

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Google delivers 3Q letdown early, stock plummets

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — As far as unpleasant surprises go, Google hit Wall Street with a double whammy Thursday.

The Internet search leader that prides itself of organizing the world's information lost control of its own data when a contractor released its third-quarter earnings report more than three hours before the numbers were supposed to come out.

As if that was jarring enough, the numbers alarmed investors because the company's earnings and revenue fell well below analyst projections. The disappointment triggered an 8 percent drop in Google's stock price that erased about $20 billion in shareholder wealth.

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Gasoline prices — finally — begin to slide

NEW YORK (AP) — Gasoline prices have begun their seasonal slide.

Better late than never, drivers say.

The national average retail price has fallen for 10 straight days and is now $3.74 per gallon. It could mark the beginning of the usual autumn decrease that was delayed this year because of refinery problems and high oil prices.

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Newsweek to cease print edition after 80 years

NEW YORK (AP) — Newsweek will end its print publication after 80 years and shift to an all-digital format in early 2013.

Its last U.S. print edition will be the Dec. 31 issue. The paper version of Newsweek is the latest casualty of a changing world where readers get more of their information from websites, tablets and smartphones. It's also an environment in which advertisers are looking for less expensive alternatives online.

Newsweeklies have been in an especially tough spot at a time when people don't want to wait a week to read commentary and news digests of big stories, given a flood of instant content available online.

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China shows signs economic recovery taking shape

BEIJING (AP) — China's worst slump since the global financial crisis leveled out in the latest quarter and retail sales picked up in a sign an economic rebound is taking shape, adding to hopes for a global recovery.

The world's second-largest economy grew 7.4 percent from the year before in the three months ending in September, data showed Thursday. That was slower than the second quarter's 7.6 percent growth but the decline was much gentler than in earlier quarters. Economists also pointed to quarter-on-quarter growth of 2.2 percent, the biggest such gain in a year, as a sign of recovery.

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US unemployment aid applications jump to 388,000

WASHINGTON (AP) — Weekly applications for U.S. unemployment benefits jumped 46,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 388,000, the highest in four months. The increase represents a rebound from the previous week's sharp drop. Both swings were largely due to technical factors.

The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, rose slightly to 365,500, the Labor Department said Thursday. That is still a level consistent with modest hiring.

Last week California reported a large drop in applications, pushing down the overall figure to the lowest since February 2008. This week it reported a significant increase. The gyrations occurred because it processed applications last week that were delayed from the previous week.

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AP source: Obama was considered potential target

NEW YORK (AP) — A Bangladeshi man snared in an FBI terror sting considered targeting President Barack Obama and the New York City Stock Exchange before settling on a car bomb attack on the Federal Reserve, just blocks from the World Trade Center site, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation and talked to the AP on condition of anonymity, stressed that the suspect never got beyond the discussion stage in considering an attack on the president.

In a September meeting with an undercover agent posing as a fellow jihadist, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis explained he chose the Federal Reserve as his car bomb target "for operational reasons," according to a criminal complaint. Nafis also indicated he knew that choice would "cause a large number of civilian casualties, including women and children," the complaint said.

The bomb was phony, but authorities said that Nafis' admiration of Osama bin Laden and aspirations for martyrdom were not.

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Microsoft profit falls ahead of Windows 8 launch

NEW YORK (AP) — Microsoft Corp.'s net income fell 22 percent in the latest quarter as it deferred revenue from the sale of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system to PC makers — and as PC sales in general took a dive.

The economic troubles in Europe also weighed on results, which missed Wall Street expectations.

The software company said Thursday that net income was $4.47 billion, or 53 cents per share, in the fiscal first quarter, which ended Sept. 30. That was down from $5.7 billion, or 68 cents per share, a year ago.

Analysts were on average expecting 56 cents per share, according to FactSet.

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Measure of future economic activity up 0.6 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — A measure of U.S. economic activity designed to give signals about the future posted a solid gain in September, rebounding after a dip in August. The index is still signaling weak growth, however.

The Conference Board said Thursday that its index of leading indicators rose 0.6 percent in September after falling 0.4 percent in August and rising 0.4 percent in July. The previous months were revised down slightly.

The strength in September came from a big jump in applications for building permits, which the government reported Wednesday had climbed to a four-year high that month.

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US rate on 30-year fixed mortgage near record low

WASHINGTON (AP) — The average U.S. rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has fallen to near the record low set earlier this month.

The rate on the most popular mortgage dipped to 3.37 percent from 3.39 last week, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday. Two weeks ago, the rate reached 3.36 percent, its lowest level on records dating to 1971.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage, often used for refinancing, set a record low of 2.66 percent, down from last week's 2.7 percent.

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Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index expands

WASHINGTON (AP) — Manufacturing in the Philadelphia region expanded in October following five months of declines, a positive sign for a U.S. manufacturing sector which had been weakening for much of the year.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported Thursday that its index of regional manufacturing activity had a reading of 5.7 in October following a -1.9 reading in September. Any reading above zero indicates expansion.

Manufacturing, which helped lift the country out of recession, had been slowing since the spring, battered by slower domestic demand and a slowing global economy which was hurting exports.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 8.06 points, or 0.06 percent, at 13,549.94. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 3.57 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,457.34. The Nasdaq finished down 31.26 points at 3,072.87.

U.S. benchmark crude eased 2 cents to finish at $92.10 a barrel. Brent crude, which many U.S. refiners use to make gasoline, fell 80 cents to $112.42 in London.

Heating oil fell a penny to $3.17 per gallon. Wholesale gasoline fell 4 cents to $2.75 per gallon. Natural gas rose 12 cents to $3.59 per thousand cubic feet.