US FINANCIAL MARKET
- Boeing Dreamliner hit by two more mishaps in Japan. Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner jet suffered a cracked cockpit window and an oil leak on separate flights in Japan on Friday.
- Amazon is introducing a new service called Amazon AutoRip, which automatically gives customers free MP3 versions of any CDs they’ve purchased from Amazon since the launch of its Music Store back in 1998.
- Wells Fargo fourth-quarter profit rose 24 percent to a record high as the bank set aside less money to cover bad loans and made more fees from mortgages. Wells Fargo, the largest U.S. home lender, said fees from mortgages climbed nearly 30 percent from a year ago to $3.1 billion.
- American Express has announced that it will lay off 5,400 staff members and incur restructuring costs of $400 million as it revealed fourth quarter earnings that widely missed analyst estimates.
- Merck said it would withdraw its cholesterol drug Tredaptive from markets worldwide after European regulators recommended that marketing of the drug be suspended. The drug isn’t a major product for Merck. It posted only $13 million in sales during the first three quarters of 2012.
- Chevron expects fourth-quarter earnings to be “notably higher” than third-quarter profit.
- Toys R Us reports gloomy holiday sales. It says key sales figure fell 4.5 percent during holiday season.
US ECONOMY & POLITICS
- Trade deficit unexpectedly widened in November. America’s trade deficit widened 16 percent in November to $48.7 billion, the Commerce Department said. Analysts were expecting the deficit to shrink to $41.3 billion.
- Imports grew 3.8 percent to $231.3 billion, led by gains in shipments of cell phones, including Apple’s new iPhone. Exports increased only 1 percent to $182.6 billion.
- The widening was entirely accounted for by a widening in the real ex-petroleum trade deficit, which was driven by higher real imports of consumer goods and automobiles.
- Separately, the Labor Department said import prices fell 0.1 percent in December, in line with the expectations of economists polled by Reuters.
- Two top Federal Reserve policymakers expressed discomfort on Thursday with the U.S. central bank’s easy monetary policy. They worry that the Fed’s near-zero interest-rate policy – aimed at boosting the economy – could spark inflation.
EUROPE & WORLD
- Canada posted the fourth highest trade deficit on record ($2 billion) in November as shipments to Europe fell.
- British manufacturing output fell by 0.3 percent in November.
- China’s Consumer prices rose 2.5 percent over a year earlier. Higher inflation could hamper Beijing’s ability to support China’s recovery with interest rate cuts.
- The Japanese Cabinet approved a fresh stimulus package of more than 20 trillion yen ($224 billion) on Friday, aiming to lift the economy out of recession and create 600,000 new jobs.
- Moody’s drove Cyprus deeper into junk on Thursday with a three notch downgrade from B3 to Caa3 over concerns that the country may ultimately default on its burgeoning debt level.
TODAY in HISTORY
- For the first time, milk was delivered in glass bottles — by one Alexander Campbell, in New York (1878)
- The first sedan-type car was unveiled by the Hudson Motor Company in NYC (1913)
- Amelia Earhart became the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California (1935)
- The first government report regarding the dangers of cigarette smoking was issued by the U.S. Surgeon General, Luther Terry (1964)
- Major-league baseball agreed to allow the American League to experiment with the “designated hitter rule” for the next three years (1973)
Sources: Reuters, Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, Bloomberg, CNN Money.
This information has been prepared from sources believed to be reliable, but no representation is being made as to its accuracy or completeness. The information provided should be used only as general information and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. The economic forecasts set forth in the material may not develop as predicted. All indices, such as the S & P 500, are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.