Business News You Need Today: Aug. 24, 2010
Bond-Yields Point To Economic Growth: The current slowdown in the economic recovery has some analysts predicting a second downturn, also known as a double-dip recession. But those fears are overblown, says DailyFinance's Peter Cohan. One measure of economic health, the spread between interest rates paid on differently maturing Treasury bonds, paints a healthier -- if not robust -- picture for the economy.
Prius Gets 'Noise' Option: Hybrid vehicles, such as Toyota Motor's (TM) Prius, can catch pedestrians unaware as the cars approach because of the lack of noise emitted by the vehicles' electric engines. To keep pedestrians safe, the world's largest automaker is offering an under-hood speaker system that emits a whirring sound, similar to that of a running gasoline engine. The option goes on sale later this month in Japan for installation on the third-generation Prius. Prices start at ¥12,600 ($148), plus installation. Toyota has yet to decide whether the option will be available in other markets around the world, including the U.S.
New Kindle Arrives This Week: Amazon.com (AMZN) begins shipping its newest version of the popular Kindle electronic book reader Friday. The third-generation Kindle features a lower price, improved display, longer battery life, slimmer profile and faster page turns, WalletPop reports. Prices start at $139 for WiFi-only models.
Chrysler Profit 'Unlikely': Chrysler Group won't likely see a profit this year, company CEO Sergio Marchionne said Monday. The executive didn't provide earnings guidance for the third or fourth quarters. Still, Marchionne said he was "satisfied" with the automaker's performance in general, and that the company is "well ahead of plan" for its turnaround after last year's bankruptcy. Chrysler reported a net loss of $172 million for the second quarter, down from a net loss of $197 million during the first three months of the year.
NHTSA Upgrades Toyota Investigation: Federal officials are stepping up their investigation into complaints about stalling Corolla and Matrix vehicles manufactured by Toyota Motor (TM). The more-intensive investigation into the 2005, 2006 and 2007 model year Corolla and Corolla Matrix cars in the U.S. began Aug. 18, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in statement. It isn't yet known whether a safety recall will be issued.
Potash Rejects Hostile Takeover Bid: The board of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (POT) has unanimously rejected a $38.5 hostile bid by BHP Billiton (BHP) to take over the world's largest supplier of potash, a powder used to make glass, soap and fertilizer. The board of the Canadian company said Monday that BHP's unsolicited offer undervalues Potash given its growth potential. Potash said it's in talks with several other companies. Shares of Potash were up fractionally in premarket trading in New York on Tuesday. The stock fell slightly Monday, in step with the overall market.
Oil Prices Continue To Tumble: As the summer driving season winds down, oil prices continued their descent Tuesday in trading in Asia. Crude prices slipped to near $72 a barrel in trading at midday, Kuala Lumpur time, on renewed worries the global economic recovery has slowed. Asian markets overall were lower, following Monday's losing day on Wall Street.
HP Outbids Dell For 3Par: Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) made a rival, $1.5 billion bid for data-storage device maker 3Par (PAR) on Monday, following Dell's (DELL) $1.14 billion offer last week. Analysts expect that Dell will counter offer with a sweeter deal. HP's offer comes just weeks after the company's board asked that CEO Mark Hurd resign over allegations he falsified expense reports. Both computer makers are eying 3Par in separate bids to move beyond their core computer-making businesses. Shares of 3Par surged 45% in trading Monday. Dell and HP both fell.
Borders CFO Resigns: In another sign of the troubles afflicting bookseller Borders Group (BGP), the company's chief financial officer and chief operating officer, Mark Bierley, has resigned. Bierley quit "to pursue another employment opportunity," Borders said Monday in a statement. The company named Glen Tomaszewski, 41, a vice president, as interim CFO while it looks for a permanent replacement. Shares of Borders fell 2 cents in Monday's trading session on Wall Street.
Gas Prices Seen Falling: Americans may be mourning the passing of summer as the Labor Day weekend looms, but there is good news for those looking to hit the nation's highways for the holiday: gas prices are expected to go down. WalletPop reports prices could drop as much as 15 cents a gallon on falling crude oil prices, rising inventories and slack demand.
O'Keefe Art Can't Be Sold: Financially troubled Fisk University in Tennessee can't sell a share of its collection of prized George O'Keefe paintings, a court has ruled. As Luxist reports, a Nashville judge said the university's plan to sell half of the paintings to Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) heiress Alice Walton for $30 million goes against O'Keefe's wishes. The artist donated 101 pieces of artwork to the school in 1949, but the university's precarious fiscal situation leaves it unable to care for the collection in the manner stipulated by O'Keefe.