Archive for June, 2010

Best Buy 1st-quarter results fall short (AP)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 | Finance News

MINNEAPOLIS – Best Buy says consumers bought more cell phones at its mobile unit in the first quarter, but results missed expectations and shares tumbled nearly 7 percent in premarket trading.

Net income edged up 1 percent to $155 million, or 36 cents per share, from $153 million, or 36 cents per share, last year.

Revenue rose 7 percent to $10.79 billion from $10.1 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected net income of 50 cents per share on revenue of $10.93 billion.

Revenue in stores open one year rose 2.8 percent. The measure is a key indicator of a retailer's financial health.

Best Buy of Minneapolis benefited when its rival Circuit City closed last year, but it faces stepped up competition from online retailers and discount stores such as Wal-Mart.

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White House: Obama ready to seize claims process (AP)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 | Finance News

PENSACOLA, Fla. – President Barack Obama is reassuring people in Gulf Coast states that he's up to the enormous job of helping them recover from the disastrous oil spill, laying the groundwork for a prime-time speech Tuesday night. His chief spokesman said Obama is poised to seize the handling of damage claims from BP, if necessary.

Spokesman Robert Gibbs appeared on morning news shows Tuesday as Obama prepared for a second day of briefings — this time in Florida — and as the president prepared to give an address at Pensacola Naval Air Station and fly back to Washington for the 8 p.m. address from the Oval Office.

The aim of wresting claims-handling from BP, Gibbs said, would be to make individuals and businesses "whole." The claims issue is among several difficult problems that Obama will address directly in the speech, his first from the Oval Office.

Voicing increasing confidence in his ability to confront the nation's worst environmental crisis, Obama was ready to outline a comprehensive response and recovery program and was set to assure not only the people from the afflicted region, but all the country as well, that the administration will see to it that America surmounts this crisis.

On the matter of the disputed damage payments, Gibbs said, "We have to get an independent claims process. I think everyone agrees that we have to get BP out of the claims processes and, as I said, make sure that fishermen, hotel owners have a fast, efficient and transparent claims process so that they're getting their livelihoods replaced."

"This disaster has taken their ability to make a living away from them," he said. "We need to do this quickly, and we have to make sure that whatever money goes into that — that in no way caps what BP is responsible for. Whatever money they owe to anybody in the Gulf, they're going to have to pay regardless of the amount."

He noted in one interview that Obama "has the legal authority" to make the claims process independent. And Gibbs said "the best way to prevail upon BP is to take the claims process away from BP."

"The president will either legally compel them," he said, "or come to an agreement with BP to get out of the claims process, give that to an independent entity."

Obama's address to the nation sets the stage for his showdown White House meeting Wednesday with top BP executives. BP leased the rig that exploded April 20 and led to the leak of millions of gallons of coast-devastating crude. It's part of an effort by Obama, who's been accused of appearing somewhat detached as the oil spill disaster has unfolded, to convince a frightened Gulf Coast and a skeptical nation that he is in command.

Obama was to deliver the speech upon his return from a two-day swing through Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, his fourth trip to the Gulf since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion that set off the disaster, but his first outside the hardest-hit state of Louisiana.

The trip gave him ammunition for the speech and for his meeting with BP executives where he intends to finalize the details of a victims compensation fund. He visited vacant beaches in Mississippi where the threat of oil had scared off tourists, heard the stories of local employers losing business, watched hazmat-suited workers scrub down boom in a staging facility in Theodore, Ala., and took a ferry ride through Mobile Bay and then to Orange Beach, Ala., where oil has lapped on the shore.

He was beginning the day Tuesday in Pensacola, Fla., where he was to attend a briefing and then make remarks at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

"We're gathering up facts, stories right now so that we have an absolutely clear understanding about how we can best present to BP the need to make sure that individuals and businesses are dealt with in a fair manner and a prompt manner," the president said Monday.

"I am confident that we're going to be able to leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before," he said.

That pledge was reminiscent of George W. Bush's promise to rebuild the region "even better and stronger" than before Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Bush could not make good on that promise, and Obama did not spell out how he would fulfill his. Tuesday's speech will give him the chance.

Presidents reserve the Oval Office for rare televised addresses. When they take their place behind the desk, it's a time for solemnity and straight talk — often a moment of history. There is a sense of gravity. One man by himself before one television camera speaking to the nation.

Oval Office addresses typically aren't lengthy discourses like a State of the Union, but if a president has to go for broke, this is where he does it. Bush addressed the nation from the Oval on the evening of Sept. 11, 2001. Ronald Reagan spoke there after the space shuttle Challenger explosion. John F. Kennedy grimly explained the Cuban missile crisis. Richard Nixon announced his resignation.

Obama hasn't used it yet. Not even during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Not to explain painfully high unemployment rates. Or bank and auto company bailouts. Not to speak of terrorism threats. Even when his health insurance plan was in peril, he did not speak from the Oval Office to rally support or explain to Americans why he considered it vital.

Gibbs appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America," CBS's "The Early Show," NBC's "Today" show and CNN.

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Oil hovers above $75 as investors eye demand (AP)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 | Finance News

SINGAPORE – Oil prices hovered above $75 a barrel Tuesday in Asia as traders mulled whether the recovery of the global economy is strong enough to sustain improving crude demand.

Benchmark crude for July delivery was up 20 cents to $75.33 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.34 to settle at $75.12 on Monday.

Oil prices have traded in a $70 to $80 range so far this month after dropping from $87 to $64 last month amid fears Europe's debt crisis could hurt global economic growth. On Monday, credit rating agency Moody's lowered its rating on Greece's debt to "junk" status.

But oil traders have taken heart in recent weeks from a fall in U.S. crude inventories, which suggests demand is improving.

Analysts expect another drop of 1.8 million barrels, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., when the American Petroleum Institute announces its weekly supply data late Tuesday and the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration releases its report on Wednesday.

Some analysts expect the growth in oil demand in developed countries to catch up with burgeoning consumption in developing countries and push prices higher.

"We expect prices to eventually move back above $80 supported by the strong growth momentum in demand," Barclays Capital said in a report. "Despite price movements being at the mercy of macroeconomic jitters lately, $70 has emerged as a strong floor and with good reason."

In other Nymex trading in July contracts, heating oil was almost unchanged at $2.0255 a gallon and gasoline was flat at $2.0763 a gallon. Natural gas was up 2.4 cents at $5.03 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Brent crude was up 17 cents to $76.38 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange.

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