Top Headlines - part 61

Xbox Update Helps Boost Microsoft Revenue Growth

Xbox Update Helps Boost Microsoft Revenue Growth

BUSINESS

  • Microsoft releases update to Xbox 360 with improved interface and enhanced voice controls
  • Xbox 360 outsold Wii by nearly 400,000 units in November
  • Microsoft sold just under 1 million Xbox 360 units during Black Friday week

Microsoft has released an update to the Xbox 360 that provides the console with an improved interface and enhanced voice-recognition controls. The changes take the Kinnect Hub of the current interface to the next level, providing users with greater ability to control the console with their hands and voice.

Visually, the interface now contains many elements already found on Windows phones and planned to be included in Windows 8. It also integrates Bing, the Microsoft search engine.

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Pfizer's Axitinib Kidney Cancer Drug Gets Green Light from FDA Advisory Committee

Pfizer's Axitinib Kidney Cancer Drug Gets Green Light from FDA Advisory Committee

BUSINESS

  • Advisory committee to FDA votes 13-0 to approve new renal cancer drug axitinib
  • Drug study participants lived an average of 2 months longer than on other treatments
  • Pfizer could see $576 million in sales by 2014 if axitinib is approved for sale by FDA

An advisory committee to the Federal Drug Administrative voted 13-0 to approve Pfizer Inc.’s new kidney cancer drug axitinib. Axitinib is intended for advanced renal cancer patients whose treatment failed while using other drugs.

However, the FDA still needs to approve the drug before it can be sold, but the group normally approves drugs suggested by its advisory committee.

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Can Saab Be Saved From Bankruptcy?

Can Saab Be Saved From Bankruptcy?

FINANCE

  • Saab administrator gives up on restructuring, leaving owner Swedish Automobile one week to respond or be declared bankrupt
  • Saab needs to borrow $800 million to cover restructuring costs
  • Chinese automakers offered to buy Saab for $135 million earlier this year but GM blocked deal

Guy Lofalk, the administrator in charge of Saab Automobile’s restructuring, filed papers yesterday to give up efforts to save the dying car manufacturer. He says Swedish Automobile, who owns Saab, cannot cover the cost of restructuring.

Swedish Automobile needs to borrow $800 million to make the restructuring a success, and it has one week to respond to Lofalk’s application or run the risk of being declared bankrupt. A Swedish court is scheduled to rule on the case on December 16.

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Verizon Sets Sights On Streaming Video Service

Verizon Sets Sights On Streaming Video Service

BUSINESS

  • Verizon may be planning to take on Netflix and pay TV companies
  • New package could be available to 85 million US households in 2012
  • Verizon’s has 4 million subscribers for FiOS TV, 4.6 million for broadband service

Verizon Communications is in talks to launch a new web video service in the latest challenge to online streaming company Netflix and cable TV companies, according to a report from Reuters.

Insiders with knowledge of the plans say the company is in discussions with programming firms to create a video streaming business that would attract new customers currently outside its fiber-to-the-home broadband and TV FiOS service.

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US Retail Cyber Spending Sets New Record of $6 Billion

US Retail Cyber Spending Sets New Record of $6 Billion

BUSINESS

  • Cyber Monday hit an all-time high of $1.25 billion in online sales
  • Retailer’s free shipping promotion lends itself to increased holiday online spend
  • Online sales are up 15% from last year to $18.7 billion

Online retailers have registered a record breaking shopping surge, grossing $6 billion in US revenue during Cyber Week 2011, which followed Black Friday.

In a quote from the chairman of comScore, a leader in digital measurement and analytics, Gian Fulgoni stated: “Cyber Monday kicked the week off with a bang, but it was only the beginning of a very strong week of online holiday spending.”

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Apple Under Spotlight In European E-Book Probe

Apple Under Spotlight In European E-Book Probe

BUSINESS

  • Apple under investigation in price fixing probe
  • Documents found in March EU raid could implicate Apple in antitrust case
  • Deals with five international publishers under scrutiny

European Union antitrust authorities are investigating Apple along with five international publishing firms for possible price fixing of e-books. The probe launched by the European Commission will attempt to determine dealings between the iPad maker and major US publishers HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster.

Britain’s Penguin and France’s Hachette Livre are also under the spotlight, along with German publishing house Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck.

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SAP-SuccessFactors Merger Sends Cloud Stocks Skyward

SAP-SuccessFactors Merger Sends Cloud Stocks Skyward

FINANCE

  • SuccessFactors shares up over 50% after $3.4 billion buyout offer
  • Main rival Taleo shares jump over 20% to record high $32.92
  • Other software companies shares driven up amid speculation

Shares in a number of cloud computing firms jumped following an announcement from SAP that it will acquire workforce management software company SuccessFactors.

The German software giant’s $3.4 billion buyout proposal drove SuccessFactors stocks up by over 50% to $39.71 in New York, sparking speculation of other takeovers within the business software industry.

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Financial Instability Continues in the EU as ECB Lending Spikes

Financial Instability Continues in the EU as ECB Lending Spikes

FINANCE

  • ECB lending at 2%, much higher than the 0.74% paid for marketplace funding
  • Germany proposes more ECB bond buys, sanctions for overspending
  • IMF to protect EU funds, provide $270 billion to EU

The European Central Bank is lending money to banks at the highest rate since March, signaling tight funding at the market level. Lending has spiked to $11.59 billion, worrying traders who have not experienced such an increase since Irish banks needed central bank funding.

The price to borrow from the ECB is 2%, a figure much higher than the 0.74% paid for marketplace funding. When limited credit availability forces banks to use central banks, their costs add pressure on already vulnerable banks. One trader explained to the Financial Times that for every 40 large banks seeking funding, there is only one large corporate bank willing to lend.

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EU Manufacturing Drops, Causes Higher Unemployment

EU Manufacturing Drops, Causes Higher Unemployment

ECONOMY

  • European PMI falls to 46.4, lowest rate since 2009
  • Manufacturers cut jobs due to low sales, unemployment rises to 10.3%
  • Czech and British factories slow output, German manufacturing declines
  • Reuters poll: 60% chance of EU recession

Europe's manufacturing sector fell in November at its fastest pace in 28 months, with production and new orders down to levels not seen since the height of the credit crisis in mid-2009.

Markit's, a financial services firm, Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for the Eurozone fell from 47.1 to 46.4 in November, marking the lowest PMI since the summer of 2009. A PMI under 50 marks a contraction, while anything above suggests growth. This is the Eurozone's fourth consecutive month below 50.

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Trade Panel Presses Forward in Investigation on Chinese Solar Imports

Trade Panel Presses Forward in Investigation on Chinese Solar Imports

WORLD

  • US International Trade Commission votes to investigate Chinese solar imports and impact on US solar industry
  • Investigation may led to Chinese solar imports being heavily charged
  • Democratic lawmakers urge Barack Obama to further probe Chinese solar imports

Members of the Washington-based US International Trade Commission have voted unanimously to move forward in an investigation that may end in Chinese solar imports being subject to heavy tariffs. This vote follows a former complaint in mid-October by Solar World, a German-based company with US branches, calling for heavy countervailing and antidumping duties on Chinese imports.

Solar World claims the Chinese government unfairly boosts solar cell exports through tactics like currency manipulation, preferential loans, cash grants and tax incentives, and proposes heavy importing duties to counteract the alleged negative impact of Chinese imports on the US solar industry.

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