Cyber Monday bounce expected to be minor
Retailers who saw Thanksgiving holiday sales drop off as the weekend progressed stepped up online promotions on the day known as “Cyber Monday” to try to get consumers tired of the crowds at stores to keep shopping.
But after weeks of already heavy discounting both at regular stores and online, experts were doubtful that the day would give much of a lift to what is still expected to be one of the weakest holiday seasons in years.
The Monday after Thanksgiving was dubbed “Cyber Monday” by the National Retail Federation trade group in 2005 to describe the unofficial kickoff to the online retail season — when customers shopped at their desks as they returned to work. But with more deals advertised ahead of time and more consumers with high-speed access at home, the day has lost some luster.
KANSAS CITY, Mo.
Call for backup power to cell towers rejected
Federal regulators have rejected proposed changes by the Federal Communications Commission that would require all U.S. cell phone towers to have at least eight hours of backup power.
The White House Office of Management and Budget said late Friday that the FCC failed to get public comment before passing the regulations last year and didn’t show that the information required from wireless companies would be useful.
It also said the FCC hadn’t demonstrated that it had enough staff to analyze the hundreds of thousands of pages of documents that the wireless industry said its members would likely have to produce as part of the regulations.
A federal appeals court put the rules on hold this summer pending a review by the OMB.
Economic report sends oil below $50 a barrel
Oil prices tumbled below $50 a barrel Monday as the National Bureau of Economic Research reported that the U.S. economy has been in a recession since December.
A tandem of bleak economic reports led to an early decline even before the bureau report was released, and a huge sell-off on Wall Street was enough to send crude prices down fast on the belief that energy demand is deteriorating.
A bureau panel believes the current downturn will last until the middle of 2009 and will be the most severe slump since the 1981-82 recession.
Light, sweet crude for January delivery fell more than 9 percent, or $5.15, to settle at $49.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Casinos struggling with mortgages
As millions of Americans are having problems paying their mortgages, so too are some Atlantic City casinos.
Trump Entertainment Resorts became the second casino operator in Atlantic City to say it would not make a scheduled loan payment while it tries to work out new terms with its lenders. Last month, Resorts Atlantic City did the same thing, and more could follow.
It’s the latest proof that Atlantic City’s casinos, once thought to be recession-proof, are subject to the same financial pressures affecting the rest of America. In fact, one gambling industry analyst thinks as many as five of Atlantic City’s 11 casinos could file for some form of bankruptcy protection in 2009.
Ford considers sale of struggling Volvo
Ford Motor Co. is considering selling Volvo Car Corp. as the beleaguered U.S. automaker seeks to raise cash and weather a global automotive sales crisis.
Göteborg, Sweden-based Volvo Cars, which Ford bought in 1999, has been struggling against a weak U.S. dollar and declining demand. Volvo sales through October are down more than 28 percent compared to the month in 2007, according to Autodata Corp.
Ford said Monday it expects its strategic review of the luxury automaker will take several months. The move is one of several actions Ford is taking to strengthen its balance sheet amid what it called “severe economic instability worldwide.”
“Given the unprecedented external challenges facing Ford and the entire industry, it is prudent for Ford to evaluate options for Volvo as we implement our One Ford plan,” said company President and CEO Alan Mulally in a written statement, referring to a plan to standardize the company globally.
Ford shares fell 14 cents, or 5.2 percent, Monday to close at $2.55 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Harrah’s debt exchange attracts bondholders
Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. said holders of about $4 billion of bonds, or 36 percent of the outstanding amount, participated in an exchange offer as the casino operator tries to push back maturities and avoid default.
About $286 million, or 19 percent, of the outstanding 2010 and 2011 notes have been tendered so far, with investors electing to receive cash instead of new notes, Las Vegas-based Harrah’s said in a statement. The 2010 and 2011 notes are the nearest maturities of the bonds eligible to be swapped.
“They didn’t really get the bonds they most wanted,” said Adam Cohen, founder of Covenant Review LLC in New York, a debt research firm that analyzes corporate bond terms. “This was not a good showing.”
Interest rates decline in Treasury auction
Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills fell in Monday’s auction to the lowest levels on record.
The Treasury Department auctioned $28 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 0.05 percent, down from 0.15 percent last week; and $28 billion in six-month bills at a discount rate of 0.43 percent, down from 0.49 percent last week.
Treasury prices rise as stocks head down
Yields on long-term U.S. government debt sank to record lows Monday as worries about mounting economic problems and a stock market plunge touched off another investor rush to safety. The possibility that the Federal Reserve could enter the Treasury market as a buyer also helped drive down yields.
The 10-year note rose 0.88 points to 107.97 and yielded 2.71 percent, down from 2.92 percent.
The 30-year bond rose 2.38 to 121.91 and yielded 3.33 percent, down from 3.43 percent.