The space shuttle Atlantis landed safely in Florida early this morning, signifying the end of an era for the U.S. space program.
World markets down on Thursday
World markets are down and lackluster today focused on the emergency meeting in Europe regarding Greek debt restructuring, and the slow movement of talks regarding raising the debt ceiling in the U.S., according to the Associated Press. Contraction in China manufacturing sector has added to the malaise. The Dow closed down 20 points on Wednesday at 12,567 after experiencing its largest one day increase in 2011 on Tuesday.
China manufacturing contracts
HSBC Corp said its Flash China Manufacturer Purchasing Managers Index fell to a 28 month low of 48.9 out of 100. Any number under 50 indicates a decline, according to the Associated Press. The Chinese government has been trying to slow growth in the economy which is estimated at 9%. The government has raised interest rates five times and limited lending since October.
Some initial accord on Greek debt prior to big meeting
Germany and France have reached initial accord on how to restructure some of the Greek debt prior to the meeting later today, according to the Financial Times. Sarkozy's proposal to tax the European banks holding the debt has been pushed aside causing the bank stocks in Europe to rise today.
E*Trade urged to sell
E*Trade received a letter from its largest shareholder, Citadel Hedge Fund, encouraging it to sell the company, according to the Wall Street Journal. The letter, which was filed with the SEC, indicated that the board had "squandered the franchise". Citadel had bailed out E*Trade prior to the economic crisis. E*Trade had managed $20 billion prior to the economic downturn. At its lowest point it was at $8 billion and has since increased back to $11 billion. In April, Citadel sold half of its holdings in E*Trade. E*Trade stock rose 14% on Wednesday upon news of the letter.
Zillow triples value
Zillow, the online real estate service that allows purchasers to research home prices and recent purchases, tripled its value from the initial IPO price on Wednesday, closing with a market value of $1 billion. According to the Wall Street Journal, Zillow's revenues are based upon online advertising by local real estate agents and Zillow has never turned a profit.
Apple hoarding cash
Apple has been stockpiling its cash and currently holds $76.2 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. That is more than the GDP of 126 countries. Standard and Poor's indicates that many of the Fortune 500 companies are sitting on cash estimated at $963 billion at end of the first quarter. Apple indicates it is looking for "strategic opportunities".
Fake Apple stores spring up in China
Despite promises made by the Chinese Commerce Minister to President Obama earlier this year, China is still not effectively cracking down on counterfeiting that is rampant in China. The Associated Press indicates that at least 3 fake Apple stores have been identified. These stores are not listed in the official Apple directory yet look incredibly similar to the real stores. Sources indicate that the items sold in the stores are not legally imported and are sold for a higher price. Employees, who believe they work for Apple, are not familiar with the products. Apple did not comment. There are four legitimate Apple stores in China today and it is seen as a growth opportunity for the country.
Wells Fargo settles sub-prime mortgage case
Wells Fargo agreed to pay $85 million to settle charges it falsified loan documents and pushed borrowers to subprime mortgages with higher rates. Apparently, Wells Fargo inflated borrower’s incomes when approving the loans. The Federal Reserve indicates that this is the highest fine paid for a consumer enforcement case. USA Todayindicates that 3700-10,000 individuals will benefit from the settlement.