More signs of global economic slowdown and political turmoil in Italy. What are the other top business stories?
Wall Street Bonuses Will Be Ho-Hum
Wall Street bonuses are expected to shrink by an average of 20 percent to 30 percent from last year, The Wall Street Journal reports in advance of a compensation survey scheduled to be released today.
Bond traders will see even steeper declines in bonuses, the Journal reports, citing the widely watched survey by consulting firm Johnson Associates Inc. The projected declines reflect in part the difficult economic environment faced by financial firms.
Honk Kong Economy Shrinks in Q3
The Hong Kong economy most likely slipped into recession after two consecutive quarters of contraction, reports Bloomberg News, citing Daiwa Capital Markets Ltd.
The region’s economy, regarded as a global bellwether, likely shrunk 1.5 percent in the third quarter, despite experts’ predictions for economic growth. Exports from the trading gateway fell in September on declining demand from the U.S. and Europe. The region’s chief executive, Donald Tsang, estimated the chances of a global recession to be at 50 percent in the coming year.
Italian Prime Minister Faces Key Vote Today
A key vote today in Italy’s Chamber of Deputies will reveal whether Prime Minister Silvio Berlusoni has enough support in Parliament to retain his seat and implement austerity measures to reduce the nation’s crippling debt, Bloomberg News reports. The chamber is scheduled to vote on a financial report that will show whether Berlusconi retains a majority in the 630-member house. Three party members so far have defected and six others have called upon the controversial leader to step down. If Berlusconi fails to muster 316 votes today, he may resign or face a confidence vote.
BofA Customers Get $410 Million Settlement
Bank of American customers have won a $410 million settlement resulting from a class-action lawsuit over debit card overdrafts during the last 10 years, USA Today reports.
James Lawrence King, a senior U.S. District Court Judge, yesterday approved the agreement as fair and reasonable, though some disgruntled customers said the award would repay them only a fraction of what they paid in overdraft fees. The charges were typically $35 per occurrence.
Microsoft Unveils $50 Smartphone
A $50 Samsung Focus Flash smartphone was introduced by Microsoft at a publicity event in New York City yesterday, said USA Today. The lower price is part of a strategy to expand the market of smartphones to the 70 percent of Americans who have yet to take the leap to the more technologically advanced devices.
Last month, Apple lowered the price of the iPhone 3GS to be more competitive with Google Droid smartphones starting at $79. Smartphones typically sell in the $199 to $500 range. Analysts predict the smartphone market will grow by 49.2 percent this year.
Bangkok Evacuation Widened
Floodwaters circled the Thai capital of Bangkok today, threatening two industrial parks near the main international airport, Bloomberg News reports. The flooding prompted authorities to widen evacuation orders in the city’s northern district. Last month floodwaters overcame seven industrial parks north of the capital, affecting global supply chains.
Flaws Apple Apps May Invite Hackers
A software flaw in Apple mobile devices may allow hackers to spread malware through mobile apps, The Chicago Tribune reports. An Apple security expert tested the vulnerability by building a prototype malicious program, which made it past the App Store’s security vetting process. There is no evidence that hackers have exploited the iOS software.
Cargo to U.S. Drops
The amount of cargo shipped to the U.S. from Asia fell 3.8 percent in the third quarter, the first decline since the end of 2009, Bloomberg News reports. According the PIERS division of UBM Global Trade, the slump probably continued through October as low consumer confidence weakened demand for imports. Shipping rates have fallen 24 percent this year. The data is taken as additional indicators global growth will remain slow.