The Associated Press
Draft order would
give companies cyberthreat information
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new White House executive order would direct U.S. spy agencies to share the latest intelligence about cyberthreats with companies operating electric grids, water plants, railroads and other vital industries to help protect them from electronic attacks, according to a copy of the order obtained by The Associated Press.
The seven-page draft order, which is being finalized, takes shape as the Obama administration expresses growing concern that Iran could be the first country to use cyberterrorism against the United States. The military is ready to retaliate if the U.S. is hit by cyberweapons, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said. But the U.S. also is poorly prepared to prevent such an attack, which could damage or knock out critical services that are part of everyday life.
The White House declined to say when the president will sign the order.
European bank supervisor step
closer but deal hazy
BRUSSELS (AP) -- European leaders took a step toward creating a single supervisor for banks in countries that use the euro on Friday but refused to pin down a start date.
Although the leaders meeting in Brussels said their decisions on the watchdog -- the single supervisory mechanism -- were key to shoring up lenders and eventually giving them access to loans from Europe’s bailout
Rather than finding new measures to fight the crisis, the leaders focused on establishing a timeline for those they had already agreed to.
U.S. home sales dip 1.7% on tight inventory
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. sales of previously occupied homes fell in September after hitting a two-year high in August, in part because there were fewer homes available for sale.
The National Association of Realtors said Friday that sales dipped 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.75 million. That’s down from a rate of 4.83 million in August, which was the highest in more than two years.
Sales are still up 11 percent from a year earlier. They remain below the more than 5.5 million that economists consider consistent with a healthy market.
Foreign investment in China falls in September
BEIJING (AP) -- Foreign investment in China fell again in September and a government spokesman said Friday it was too early to forecast a recovery in trade.
The decline in foreign direct investment added to mixed signals about the health of China’s economy following Thursday’s report that growth slowed to 7.4 percent in the latest quarter. Retail sales and factory output improved, prompting suggestions a recovery might be taking shape.
Foreign direct investment fell 6.8 percent from a year earlier to $8.4 billion, the Ministry of Commerce reported. FDI includes investment in factories and other assets but excludes stocks and other financial assets.
Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said it was too early to say trade growth is recovering from its slump despite a 9.9 percent rise in exports in September. Shen said global conditions were still difficult and uncertain.
"External demand still faces a lot of difficulties, so we cannot conclude from this month’s data alone that China’s foreign trade growth has recovered," Shen said at a news conference.
Oil prices fall on fresh worries about economy
The price of oil fell 2.2 percent Friday after disappointing U.S. corporate earnings and a drop in existing home sales sparked worries again about the global economy.
Benchmark oil fell $2.05 to finish at $90.05 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, dropped $2.28, or 2 percent, to end at $110.14 per barrel in London.
Oil traders also worry about Europe’s efforts to resolve its debt crisis and China’s slower growth.
"It doesn’t look as if there’s a clear-cut signal whether we are going to have a significant downturn in the global economic activity which is going to translate into lower demands for energy," Tradition Energy oil analyst Gene McGillian said.
Meanwhile, TransCanada said it will restart a pipeline this weekend that carries crude from Canada to the Midwest. The 2,100-mile Keystone pipeline was shut down Wednesday after tests showed possible safety issues.
Oil traders largely consider the temporary closure to be a non-issue because U.S. crude supplies are plentiful. Analysts don’t expect any impact on national retail gasoline prices.
At the pump, retail gas prices fell 2 cents overnight to $3.715 per gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and the Oil Price Information Service. That’s nearly 10 cents less than a week ago but 24 cents more than last year at this time.
Early look at Windows 8 baffles consumers
NEW YORK (AP) -- The release of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system is a week away, and consumers are in for a shock. Windows, used in one form or another for a generation, is getting a completely different look that will force users to learn new ways to get things done.
Microsoft is making a radical break with the past to stay relevant in a world where smartphones and tablets have eroded the three-decade dominance of the personal computer. Windows 8 is supposed to tie together Microsoft’s PC, tablet and phone software with one look. But judging by the reactions of some people who have tried the PC version, it’s a move that risks confusing and alienating customers.
Tony Roos, an American missionary in Paris, installed a free preview version of Windows 8 on his aging laptop to see if Microsoft’s new operating system would make the PC faster and more responsive. It didn’t, he said, and he quickly learned that working with the new software requires tossing out a lot of what he knows about Windows.
"It was very difficult to get used to," he said. "I have an 8-year-old and a 10-year-old, and they never got used to it. They were like, ‘We’re just going to use Mom’s computer."’
GE 3Q earnings rise; revenue disappoints
NEW YORK (AP) -- General Electric Co.’s transformation into a simpler industrial company seems to be helping its bottom line.
The top line, though, is lagging slightly.
GE’s net income rose 49 percent in the third quarter to $3.49 billion, or 33 cents per share. On an adjusted basis, GE earned 36 cents per share, in line with analysts’ expectations and up 13 percent from a year earlier.
Revenue rose $1 billion, or 3 percent, to $36.35 billion. Analysts were looking for revenue of $36.95 billion and GE shares fell more than 3 percent, part of a broad market decline.
Stronger dollar hurts McDonald’s 3Q results
NEW YORK (AP) -- Tough competition in the U.S. and the weakening economy abroad was a double whammy for McDonald’s in the third-quarter, sending the burger chain’s net income down nearly 4 percent.
McDonald’s said it was adjusting some of its plans to deal with the pressures, including stepping up advertising for its dollar menu and bringing back the popular McRib sandwich nationally in December to drive traffic into U.S. stores.
The world’s largest hamburger chain with 33,000 locations worldwide has thrived in boom and bust times by selling cheap eats and constantly updating its menu. But global economic pressures and intensifying competition are wearing at the company, which does two-thirds of its business overseas.
Starbucks opens first India store in Mumbai
MUMBAI, India (AP) -- Starbucks inaugurated its first store in India Friday in a historic building in southern Mumbai as the Seattle-based coffee giant seeks growth in a market long associated with tea drinkers.
After over six years of studying the local market, Starbucks is making a rapid-fire entry into Asia’s third-largest economy. Coffee houses are still a relatively new trend in India, and the chains already in business sell cappuccinos and lattes well below Starbucks’ usual prices.
The company, in a joint venture with Tata Global Beverages, plans to open two additional stores in Mumbai next week -- on Wednesday in the Taj Mahal Palace hotel and on Thursday in the Oberoi hotel across town -- before launching in New Delhi early next year.