AP Business NewsBrief at 3:56 a.m. EST
(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Obama set to name Sperling to top economic postWASHINGTON (AP) _ President Barack Obama is set to name Gene Sperling as director of the National Economic Council, a move that would place a veteran policy and political player in the White House to work with a divided Congress. The role would give Sperling broad oversight of the administration's economic policies as the White House contends with near-double digit unemployment and looming legislative battles on the budget and deficit. His appointment comes amid a broader shake-up of Obama's senior staff as the White House ramps up the president's re-election campaign.
December jobs report seen showing greater hiringWASHINGTON (AP) _ The government is expected to report Friday that businesses stepped up hiring in December, a trend likely to gain momentum in 2011. Economists are predicting that employers added a net total of 145,000 jobs last month and that the unemployment rate dipped to 9.7 percent.
Fed boss likely to sound more hopeful on economyWASHINGTON (AP) _ Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke goes to Capitol Hill on Friday more confident about the economy and the outlook for hiring, but not enough to pull back from the Fed's $600 billion bond-buying program. Bernanke's testimony before the Senate Budget Committee is his first congressional appearance since the Fed announced in November it planned to buy $600 billion in Treasurys through June. The bond purchases are designed to boost the economy by lowering interest rates and lifting stock prices.
Samsung sees record 2010 sales, operating profitSEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Samsung Electronics said Friday that both sales and operating profit likely rose to record highs in 2010 despite sluggishness at the end of the year amid lower prices for televisions and semiconductors. The manufacturer of the 7000 Series 3D flat panel TV estimated that consolidated revenue during 2010 came to 153.76 trillion won ($137.31 billion), which would be an increase of 13 percent from the previous year's record performance of 136.32 trillion won.
Asian shares higher after weak Wall Street finishTOKYO (AP) _ Asian shares were mostly higher Friday, recovering from earlier profit-taking, as traders awaited key U.S. jobs data later in the day. Oil prices rose to near $89 a barrel Friday in Asia amid hopes that the employment report would show signs of a stronger U.S. economy.
Verizon reveals first 4G wireless tablets, phonesLAS VEGAS (AP) _ This year, the big national wireless carriers will be racing to stake their claims in the new frontier of service: ultra-fast data access _ for smart phones and laptops as well as for gadgets like tablets. The companies are boosting their wireless data speeds and revving up the marketing hype. They're moving away from talking about call quality and coverage, and focusing on data speeds: megabits in place of minutes. For consumers, there are benefits in the form of faster service and cooler gadgets. Yet some of the marketing campaigns seem designed to confuse consumers about the gadgets' speed.
High prices have US farmers planting more cottonBAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) _ More American farmers are expected to plant cotton this year as prices remain high thanks to demand from the growing middle class in China and India and a short supply worldwide. Some of the biggest growth is expected in California, where planting had slipped to a low of 200,000 acres two years ago from 1.6 million acres in 1979. This year, California farmers are expected to plant 400,000 acres, said Mark Bagby, spokesman for Calcot, a marketing cooperative that represents 1,400 growers in California, Texas and New Mexico.
SEC rule likely to trigger Facebook IPO in 2012SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ With so many investors becoming fans of the company, Facebook will be legally required to begin sharing more information about its finances and strategy by April 2012, according to documents distributed to prospective shareholders. Some of the numbers that began trickling out Thursday were eye-popping _ most notably a net profit margin of nearly 30 percent, much higher than most people had previously speculated.
December increase seals strong holiday for retailNEW YORK (AP) _ The holiday shopping season was the best since 2006, as a strong November more than offset spending that tapered off in late December. The strength of holiday sales from Oct. 31 through Jan. 1 suggests a recovery in consumer spending. For investors, whose expectations were riding high after a stronger-than-expected November, the December figures were disappointing. That hurt retail stocks Thursday.
Microsoft's answer to the iPad is still in piecesSEATTLE (AP) _ Instead of unveiling an elegant response to the iPad, Microsoft came to the tech industry's premier gadget show with a collection of exposed computer guts. Microsoft's biggest news was that the next version of Windows would run on the style of cell phone chips that power the iPad and other tablets today. It proved it with a series of demonstrations on half-built computers; on the monitors hooked up to those machines, the software was indistinguishable from the current Windows 7.
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