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Top Headlines November 2011

Oil: EU May Follow US in Tighter Iran Sanctions

Oil: EU May Follow US in Tighter Iran Sanctions

WORLD

  • UK, Canada support latest US sanctions
  • EU considers bloc-wide embargo on Iranian crude oil
  • Crude rises $1.58 to hit $99.79 per barrel in New York

Iran’s simmering tensions with the West are likely to pose new obstacles for the oil-exporting nation, as major importers fall in line with the United States in tightening financial sanctions.

On November 21, Iran’s banking sector was hit by new US restrictions following a report earlier in the month from the International Atomic Energy Agency that it was continuing to pursue a nuclear weapons development program. The United Kingdom and Canada backed the US move, implementing measures that make it increasingly complicated to finance transactions for Iranian crude oil.

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Toyota Aims For 40,000 Prius Hybrid Sales in Japan, 60,000 WorldWide

Toyota Aims For 40,000 Prius Hybrid Sales in Japan, 60,000 WorldWide

BUSINESS

  • Prius PHV to start at $40,000 on Japanese market, $32,000 in the US
  • US Prius Plug-in promises 85 miles per gallon, set for March 2012 launch
  • BMW may provide diesel engines for Toyota passenger vehicles

Toyota has opened its order books for its plug-in Prius hybrid, aiming for between 35,000 and 40,000 yearly unit sales in Japan and 60,000 worldwide.

Toyota’s Prius PHV is likely to attract eco-friendly consumers in the market for a green driving solution. The car, set for delivery in Japan at the end of January 2012, will be sold at a starting price of just over $40,000, which will be reduced by over $5,000 by green vehicle subsidies. The car will start selling at $32,000 on the US market and at just under $50,000 on the EU market.

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IPO For Facebook Targets $100 Billion

IPO For Facebook Targets $100 Billion

FINANCE

  • IPO to raise $10 billion at value of $100 billion
  • 2011 first-half revenues double 2010 figures
  • Will soon exceed 500-shareholder limit, be obliged to publish financial results

Facebook is preparing an initial public offering in the second quarter of 2012, according to the latest reports. The public offering is expected to raise $10 billion, with the company setting its sights on a $100 billion total for the deal, sources close to the matter told the Wall Street Journal.

Such a deal would eclipse other recent IPOs in the social media sector, such as those from LinkedIn, Pandora or Groupon, and would be twice the valuation of IT company Hewlett-Packard.

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Will The US Approve Bill To Cut Airline Baggage Fees?

Will The US Approve Bill To Cut Airline Baggage Fees?

WORLD

  • Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieubill launches bill to reduce airline baggage fees
  • Over 70% of airline passengers frustrated by excessive carry-on bags
  • Baggage fees said to slow down airport screening process

Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu has introduced a bill to the US Senate, seeking approval to reduce airline baggage fees in the United States. The new legislation would ensure passengers are permitted to travel with one checked piece of luggage and a carry-on bag for no additional charge.

The bill also states that passengers should be notified of any luggage restrictions and additional fees prior to arriving at airport check-in.

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Retail Record: US Sees $11.5 Billion Surge in Black Friday Sales

Retail Record: US Sees $11.5 Billion Surge in Black Friday Sales

WORLD

  • Black Friday attracts record 86 million shoppers making $11.5 billion in purchases
  • Cyber Monday online sales jump 25% to exceed $815 million
  • Internet sales outpace in-store sales, with 10% purchasing from mobile devices

In total, US retail sales for the Thanksgiving weekend are up over 15% from last year, reaching almost $52.5 billion. Almost 30 million shoppers went online and into stores on Thanksgiving Day.

The day following Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, more than 86 million customers went shopping, representing an over 6.5% year-on-year rise. Black Friday saw retailers rake in just under $11.5 billion in purchases, a record for the day.

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Roadblocks To Foreign Direct Investment In India Retail Industry

Roadblocks To Foreign Direct Investment In India Retail Industry

ECONOMY

  • Heavy opposition to FDI in India's retail sector, government to meet today
  • Participating foreign companies must invest minimum $100 million in next 5 years
  • Discussion represents a significant change in India’s legislation on foreign ownership

India’s cabinet has voted to allow foreign investment in the nation’s $500 billion retail sector, a move touted by India’s Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, who hopes it will provide farmers fairer compensation and create 10 million jobs.

Potential investors, including retail giants such as Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco, are eager to enter a market that analysts estimate will double to over $780 billion by 2015. Moreover, the Indian government promises foreign investment will curb India’s high inflation rate and low rupee, and reduce the waste caused by the rotting of 40% of fruits and vegetables prior to selling.

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Microsoft To Pay $100M For Video Search Engine VideoSurf

Microsoft To Pay $100M For Video Search Engine VideoSurf

FINANCE

  • VideoSurf video search features to be added to Xbox Live gaming network
  • VideoSurf privately owned with backing from Al Gore, Facebook operations chief Sheryl Sandberg and SurveyMonkey chief executive David Goldberg
  • Microsoft stepping up efforts to reel in rivals like Apple and Google

Microsoft has signed an agreement to acquire VideoSurf, a specialist in internet video search technology. The California-based company provides services that allow users to search through high quantities of movies and television shows and other forms of video content.

No financial details were revealed, though leading tech blog TechCrunch reported the deal was worth almost $100 million. Microsoft first plans to introduce the technology to its Xbox Live service to allow users to filter through the various types of video content on its gaming network.

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AT&T Readies for $4 Billion Hit Over T-Mobile Merger Breakup

AT&T Readies for $4 Billion Hit Over T-Mobile Merger Breakup

BUSINESS

  • AT&T sets aside $4 billion as T-Mobile USA deal looks to falter
  • Company withdraws merger application with FCC pending anti-trust approval
  • FCC and DOJ say merger will be bad for competition and jobs

AT&T said it will take a $4 billion pre-tax charge in the event that its acquisition of T-Mobile USA collapses, in a move that would seem to be an acknowledgement of odds stacking up against the proposed merger.

The communications giant for the time being withdrew its application from the US Federal Communications Commission, but said it would continue its efforts to gain anti-trust approval from the US Department of Justice

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Nokia Siemens Sheds 25% of Workforce To Stay Competitive

Nokia Siemens Sheds 25% of Workforce To Stay Competitive

BUSINESS

  • 17,000 jobs to be cut from global workforce of 75,000
  • Nokia Siemens received $1.3 billion cash injection in September
  • Microwave technology sale to DragonWave could bring in $147 million

Telecom equipment maker Nokia Siemens Networks will cut 17,000 jobs to save $1.3 billion in operating expenses and production costs by 2013. The company, second only to Ericsson on the global telecom equipment making market, will concentrate cuts on its mobile broadband sector.

The job cuts are part of a bid to become an independent company, as Nokia Siemens attempts to fight off its rivals in servicing telecommunications networks.

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France to Pursue Construction of 60th Nuclear Power Plant

France to Pursue Construction of 60th Nuclear Power Plant

WORLD

  • French President confirms plans for next-generation Penly reactor
  • Socialists, Greens agree on pre-election deal to shut down 24 out of 58 nuclear reactors
  • Sarkozy says deal would be catastrophic for French economy

French President Nicolas Sarkozy confirms that France will proceed with a controversial construction project for a 60th nuclear reactor in Penly, northern France. Sarkozy made the announcement at a nuclear power plant in Tricastin in southern France, laying the foundation for a heated energy debate going into the 2012 presidential election.

Nearly ten days earlier, the main opposition Socialist party signed a tentative pre-election deal with the Greens to begin the gradual decommissioning of 24 of the country’s 58 nuclear reactors. The Greens, who have yet to officially endorse the agreement, will back Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande on the condition that, if elected, he cuts France’s nuclear energy output from 75% of total production to 50% by 2025.

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