Top Headlines - part 75

Obama Acts On Soaring Student Debt

Obama Acts On Soaring Student Debt

ECONOMY

  • Obama to reduce student loan payments, lower pardon to 20 years
  • Tuition at public schools rises 8.3%, twice inflation rate
  • Student loans reach $100 billion, debt to exceed $1 trillion this year

Among concerns of rising student debt and tuition costs, Obama announced publicly at the University of Colorado his new relief plan for those suffering from excessive student loans.

The new measures will allow over 6 million students to bundle and consolidate some federal loans into one monthly payment.

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Merck Shares Rise to Three-Year High

Merck Shares Rise to Three-Year High

FINANCE

  • Shares rise 5.2% to €63.09 ($87.76) - biggest rise on Frankfurt Stock Exchange in almost 3 years
  • Q3 net profits rise 8% to €226.6 million ($315.2 million)
  • Company discontinues seven drug treatment programs

Shares in German pharmaceutical company Merck rose more than 5% on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange yesterday, surpassing all estimations in its third quarter financial results.

Third quarter net profit jumped almost 8% to €226.6 million ($315.2 million), up from €210.8 million for the same period last year and well above the €180 million industry experts had been predicting. Revenue rose 3.8% to €2.5 billion, marginally higher than expectations.

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Cigna Ready To Pay $3.8 Billion For HealthSpring

Cigna Ready To Pay $3.8 Billion For HealthSpring

FINANCE

  • Private Medicare Advantage plans make up 25% of Medicare plans
  • Cigna currently has Medicare Advantage customer base of 45,000, ranks 5th in US among insurers
  • HealthSpring per-member worth well above average at $3,200

Health insurance company Cigna Corp is to buy Tennessee-based healthcare plan outfit HealthSpring for $3.8 billion. HealthSpring runs a nationwide prescription drug plan and Medicare Advantage plans in several states including Washington, Texas, New Jersey and Florida.

The Medicare market is luring health insurers as an ageing US population enters retirement and is opting for private Medicare Advantage plans. These private plans make up around 25% of Medicare plan registrations at present, or 46 million beneficiaries, while 75% are accounted for by state-run plans.

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Mobile App Wars: The Rise of Android

Mobile App Wars: The Rise of Android

BUSINESS

  • Android global mobile app market share up to 44% in Q2 2011
  • Apple iOS app share drops to 31%
  • Android quarterly shipments up 36%, iOS down 9%

Google’s Android has overtaken Apple iOS in the global mobile applications market, according to market intelligence firm ABI Research. In the second quarter of 2011, the Android operating system became the number-one mobile apps player with 44% of the market, pushing iOS back into second spot with a 31% share.

Google’s mobile device platform has proven much more popular than ABI had predicted, with analysts back in 2009 forecasting a potential market share of 23% by 2014. The bulk of the growth seems to have come this year, with ABI research from August 2010 showing Apple was still dominating the market at 52% of app downloads going to iOS.

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Sharp Decline In Premium Air Travel Bad Omen For Business Travel

Sharp Decline In Premium Air Travel Bad Omen For Business Travel

BUSINESS

  • IATA reports sharp drop in premium air travel, raising concerns about rebounding market
  • Not all sectors are down - tickets sold in Far East up 12.5%
  • Airlines looking to revamp packages to halt trend

After rising sharply this summer, premium travel has fallen back to the fourth-quarter levels of last year, with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reporting a drop for the month of August - the most recent month for available statistics. 

IATA says economy-class travel also decreased but not as much as premium.

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FedEx Forecasts Huge Holiday Season

FedEx Forecasts Huge Holiday Season

BUSINESS

  • FedEx holiday deliveries to jump 12% to 260 million
  • 17 million packages to be shipped on busiest day – 10% more than 2010
  • 20,000 seasonal workers to be hired to deal with volume increase
  • Company stock rises 2.7% to $81.52

FedEx is preparing for a massive jump in United States deliveries, with projections indicating it may be its busiest festive season on record. The world’s second-biggest parcel deliverer has projected demand between Thanksgiving and Christmas to rise as much as 12% to over 260 million packages.

On its busiest day, expected to be December 12, up to 17 million deliveries should be processed – 10% more than its peak in 2010.

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US Housing Market: Stable Prices Provide Positive Outlook

US Housing Market: Stable Prices Provide Positive Outlook

ECONOMY

  • Rising home prices a sign housing market is stabilizing
  • Analysts warn prices may fall again
  • Obama administration to make refinancing easier

The housing market in the United States may be stabilizing: a recent private survey reveals home prices are up in half of all major US cities.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index also showed an increase in 10 of the 20 cities it studied, marking a fifth-consecutive month of increases. The index compared prices with January 2000, and creates a three-month average.

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Canada Sees Inflation Increase Over 3%

Canada Sees Inflation Increase Over 3%

ECONOMY

  • Food prices up 4.5% and energy prices up by 12.5%
  • Economists predict no immediate increase in bank interest rates
  • Gas prices in constant flux

Canada’s inflation rate has reached new heights, now climbing over 3% in the last twelve months, with Statistics Canada reporting food price increases of almost 4.5% and energy prices up by 12.5%.

Without food and energy as part of the equation, inflation rates would have increased by slightly less than 2% over the twelve month-period prior to the end of September.

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AT&T Wants Sprint Out Of T-Mobile Antitrust Case

AT&T Wants Sprint Out Of T-Mobile Antitrust Case

BUSINESS

  • AT&T asks federal judge to throw out Sprint antitrust lawsuit
  • Sprint says $39 billion T-Mobile takeover bad for competition
  • Merger would make AT&T by far the biggest US wireless network

AT&T will appeal to a federal court in Washington to dismiss an antitrust case brought forward by Sprint Nextel to block its acquisition of T-Mobile USA. Sprint opened a lawsuit saying the proposed merger between AT&T, the second largest wireless carrier in the US, and T-Mobile, the fourth largest, would limit competition within the industry.

Sprint also said the acquisition would damage its own business prospects which, on the back of 15 straight quarterly losses, it can ill afford.

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Mobile Satellite Navigation Leader TomTom Sees Shares Driven Up by Strong Q3 Profits

Mobile Satellite Navigation Leader TomTom Sees Shares Driven Up by Strong Q3 Profits

BUSINESS

  • Shares up 23% after 50% jump in profits
  • Full-year revenue forecast up to $1.77 billion
  • Restructuring plan to include job cuts

Shares in TomTom rose 23% as the satellite navigation device manufacturer posted its biggest quarterly profit since June 2009, sending full year forecasts upwards. The Dutch company’s third-quarter net income beat projections by a huge margin, jumping 50% to $40.1 million when analysts had predicted a best-case scenario of around $22 million.

Revenue expectations for 2011 are now as high as $1.77 billion.

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