Microsoft revealed Friday a plan to open 500 mini stores inside existing Best Buy locations in an attempt to boost sales of its Surface tablet devices, Windows-based laptop and desktop computers and other products. The software giant already has a chain of just over 70 stores and kiosks in malls peddling its wares, but sales of its own products have lagged. The company recently unveiled the latest incarnation of its flagship operating system, Windows 8, and has sold over a hundred million since releasing it in October. But according to a spokesman, sales of Microsoft-branded computers have been disappointing in stores like Best Buy because those stores lack the expertise to steer customers to the products.
Over the last few years, the global airline industry has been in dire need of a way to cut costs without raising airfares as jet fuel prices have pressured profit and airlines have been reluctant to raise fares in light of the global economic atmosphere. The carriers' biggest hopes lies with developments in airliner technology, particularly newly developed materials that allow manufacturers to build lighter aircraft. With this push for more fuel-efficient aircraft, the world's two largest plane makers have been in a race to develop the better lightweight airliner. US-based Boeing got a head start on European rival Airbus, introducing the 787 Dreamliner several years ago, but problems with the plane shelved it earlier this year, allowing Airbus to bridge the gap. With Airbus unveiling the A350 Friday, the battle for lightweight, fuel-efficient airliner supremacy is in full swing.
The city of Detroit decided on Friday that it makes more sense to default on a handful of debt, risking a downgrade of its credit rating, than to file what would be the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history. The Motor City has been hemorrhaging money in recent years due to poor management, a dwindling population and a declining tax base as companies have moved facilities out of the city. Detroit's Emergency Manager Kevin Orr, placed in control of Detroit's finances by state officials to avert a bankruptcy, opened negotiations with Detroit's creditors Friday by announcing a moratorium on certain debt payments, including one due on Friday.
In a sign that the recent industrial slump in the US may be coming to an end, factory output in the world's largest economy rose for the first time in three months in May, according to a report issued Friday by the Federal Reserve. Following declines of 0.4 percent in April and 0.3 percent in March, output rose 0.1 percent last month, fueled primarily by gains in automobile production. Economists welcomed the news, saying the accelerated production bodes well for the US economy in the third quarter, when they say the economy should resume growth following a projected slowdown in the current quarter. That sentiment was further supported by a separate report issued Friday showing improvement in consumer confidence.
46 year-old Robert Ramnarine, a former executive with pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb Co, plead guilty to insider trading charges Monday, admitting to taking profits from inside information gained from his employment with the company. According to court documents, Ramnarine purchased stock in a company called Amylin Pharmaceuticals last year, just weeks before his firm acquired the smaller company for $5.3 billion. According to the charges, Ramnarine made a total of just over $300,000 through insider trading in the Amylin deal and two other companies purchased by Bristol-Myers. The former exec faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for his crimes in addition to a fine of up to $5 million. Sentencing in the matter has been scheduled for September 26th. Ramnarine also agreed to surrender his profits from the venture.
Credit rating agency Standard & Poors upgraded its outlook on the sovereign credit rating for the United States, shifting from an outlook of “negative” to “stable.” the upgrade means that the agency believes the chances of a further downgrade to the nation's AA+ rating is unlikely. In August 2011, S&P reduced its rating on the US from AAA, marking the first time in the nation's history its credit rating has taken a hit. The other two major ratings firms, Moody's and Fitch, have not followed suit with a downgrade, though both have been monitoring recent developments and had placed the nation on notice for possible downgrade.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed Monday that it is opening an investigation into more than 320,000 Honda minivans after receiving a half-dozen complaints about airbags deploying spontaneously. According to an NHTSA spokesman, the six complaints came from owners of Honda Odysseys, model year 2003, whose airbags deployed when there had been no collisions. Three of the six incidents resulted in injuries, the spokesman said, and there were another 41 complaints filed by Honda Odyssey drivers whose airbag warning light came on. The airbag issues are just the latest for Honda, which has been forced to recall and repair over a million vehicles over the past two years due to similar airbag malfunctions.
Apple revealed the latest version (iOS 7) of its operating system for iPhones Monday at its yearly developer conference in San Francisco, along with a revamped version of the OS for Macintosh desktops and the long-promised iTunes Radio music-streaming service. The company's revamp of iOS is its biggest yet, with a number of major redesigns including improved multitasking capability. A new, left swiping feature allows users to fluidly switch back and forth between apps and there is a nifty new Control Center app that provides instant access to media functions and settings. iPhone and iPad users will also be able to double-tap the Home button following the update to bring up icons of every app currently running.
In a bid to offset the climbing price they pay for jet fuel, airlines have been increasing some fees while introducing new ones. The practice is paying off, according to a government report issued Tuesday, as US airlines took in a staggering $3.5 billion in checked baggage fees alone in 2012. The total represents a 3.8 percent increase over bag fees the previous year and is a new record high. While the existence of many of these fees sparks ire in passengers, the widespread implementation of them across the airline industry gives them no choice but to pay. Tuesday's report buoyed airline investors, with many major US carriers seeing their shares gain more than 1 percent during the day's trading session.
According to a trade group, confidence among US small business owners continued to creep up in April, though they are still somewhat cautious about the long term business environment as the economy continues to recover from its biggest slowdown since the 1930s. According to a report from the National Federation of Independent Business, the group's Index of Small Business Optimism rose 2.6 points in April to a fresh reading of 92.1, reversing a decline of 1.3 in the index's reading for March. The index is compiled from responses collected from some 1,870 business members of the organization.