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Wednesday
Feb232011

Apple Event: Will iPad 2 Be Unveiled March 2?

Photo Courtesy - Apple(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Is Apple's newest iPad on its way?

The company announced Wednesday it will hold a special media event March 2 in San Francisco, and industry watchers widely believe the topic of the day will be Apple's iPad 2.

The text on the event's invitation merely says, "Come see what 2011 will be the year of." But the artwork hints at a bit more: designed to look like a calendar page, the invitation boasts a giant "2."

The number no doubt refers to the date of the event, but may also tease the second-generation iPad. The upper right corner of the calendar image also peels back to reveal the corner of what could only be an iPad.

Speculation about Apple's newest iPad has been running high for weeks and the announcement of the media event only adds fuel to the fire.

Given CEO Steve Jobs' medical leave and recurring reports of his ailing health, Apple followers will also be watching for an appearance by Jobs or even a mention of the elusive CEO during the event.

When Apple unveiled its first iPad last January, it was the first to market in the tablet computer field. But the iPad 2 will face competition, as Motorola, BlackBerry's Research in Motion and others unveil their own attempts at tablet-like mobile devices.

Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group, previously told ABCNews.com that he expected the new iPad to feature a faster dual-core processor and full 4G support on AT&T and Verizon.

He also said the new device is expected to be flatter, lighter and sturdier than the original and include a front-facing camera to enable video conferencing.

Earlier this month, rumors started to fly that Apple might release not just one, but two, iPads this year.

After reports that Apple's iPad 2 was already in production, two popular tech blogs wrote about the possibility of an iPad 3 hitting the market later this year. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb232011

Cost of a Barrel Oil Exceeds $100 for First Time in Two Years

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Unrest in Libya is driving up oil and gasoline prices in the United States.

For the first time in more than two years the price of oil touched $100 a barrel at the New York Mercantile Exchange and the Energy Department said gasoline hit $3.19 a gallon, the highest it has ever been for a February. 

Those increasing costs threaten economic recovery so the stock market was down throughout much of Wednesday.  Libya is the prime concern but there's also fear what's happening there could spread to other major oil producers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb232011

FDIC: 'Problem List' on the Rise to 884 Institutions

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- At a press conference Wednesday, the FDIC released its fourth quarter and year-end 2010 earnings report for FDIC-insured institutions. 

The FDIC reported 157 insured commercial banks and savings institutions failed in 2010, marking the largest annual number of bank failures since 1992 when the FDIC saw 182 failed institutions.  In the fourth quarter of 2010, the FDIC added 24 institutions to the “Problem List,” raising the number of institutions on the list to 884.

Despite this increase in troubled financial institutions, FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair called 2010 a “turnaround year” for the industry after it experienced four straight quarters of positive earnings. The full-year net income for banks tallied at $87.5 billion, the highest full-year earnings since 2007. 

“While earnings in 2010 remain well below pre-crisis levels, the past year marked a significant milestone on the road to recovery,” Bair said. 

The FDIC reported banks earned $21.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared to a $1.8 billion net loss in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Revenue growth was consistent compared to previous years but remained sluggish due to a lack of “upward momentum.”  Net operating revenue in 2010 was $163.5 billion, only $2.8 billion higher than the previous year.

“A key reason why revenues haven’t grown faster is that loans have not been growing,” Bair said.

Bank lending decreased for the ninth time in 10 quarters.  Total loan and lease balances fell $13.6 billion in the final quarter of 2010 with lending in real estate construction and development, non-credit card consumer loans, and home equity lines of credit shrinking.  Banks cut loan-loss provisions by $31.6 billion in the fourth quarter.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb232011

Netflix Strikes Two-Year Deal to Stream CBS Shows

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto/Netflix, Inc.(NEW YORK) -- Netflix Inc. announced an agreement with CBS Tuesday that will allow the movie rental company to provide its customers with current and past shows.

Netflix customers will be able to stream dozens of CBS shows online starting in April.  The shows will be available to customers for two years -- the length of the agreement -- but CBS holds the option to extend the terms for up to an additional two years.

Among the shows included in the deal are current episodes of Medium and Flashpoint, as well as past seasons of the well-known sitcoms Frasier, Family Ties and Cheers.  Classics dating back to the 1960s, like The Twilight Zone and The Andy Griffith Show, will also be available for instant streaming.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb232011

Amazon Offers Members Online Streaming of Movies, TV Shows

Photo Courtesy - Amazon [dot] com(SEATTLE) -- In a move that will put it in direct competition with Netflix Inc., Amazon.com Inc. announced Tuesday it will offer its paid members instant and unlimited streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows.

The added feature will be available immediately to the online retailer's Prime members at no extra cost.  They will be able to choose from an inventory of over 5,000 movies and TV shows to watch online.

Prime membership is available for $79 and also offers customers free two-day shipping on orders.  New customers can sign up to test the new service now for a free, one-month trial.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb232011

Airfares on the Rise...Again

Photo Courtesy - Matthew Peyton/Getty Images(DALLAS) -- You've seen gasoline prices skyrocket in the last couple of days and so have the airlines. 

Instability in oil-producing countries is driving up the cost of jet fuel and, as a result, airfares.  American Airlines led the pack on Monday with a $20 hike in business class tickets.  United, Continental and US Airways quickly followed suit.  Now Delta, the last holdout, has joined in, and the fare hikes are likely to stick. 

Many travelers hope with the warm weather of the summer comes lighter fares.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb232011

Financial Confidence Up

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Another report shows more consumers are feeling better about their finances as many have reset their spending and savings plans.

Keith Brannan, of the firm Country Financial, says its latest survey shows a gain. "We do it every other month and this month we actually reached the highest point that we'd been at since 2007."

This comes after the big holiday shopping and spending season in which Brannan explains, "We normally see a little bit of a January hangover and it doesn't look like we have that so much this year."

"About half of the folks were able to set aside money this year and that's up three points even since December," Brannan says.  Having a spending plan with clear goals can help you feel better about your financial future adds Brannan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb232011

Tax Tip: Online Payment Agreements for Taxes You Owe

Photo Courtesy - IRS [dot] gov(NEW YORK) -- If you owe money to the Internal Revenue Service, you may be able to pay it back over time.

Eric Smith, who's with the IRS, says you can go on the agency's website to set up a payment plan.

"The online payment agreement option on IRS.gov allows you to find out in a matter of a few minutes whether you qualify for a payment agreement with the IRS," says Smith.

Once qualified, you can agree to pay a certain amount of your debt each month.  Smith says a "monthly payment agreement is the best way to take care of a tax debt that you can't pay all at one time."

He says the IRS knows "many people are facing very severe financial difficulties" and the agency understands that.

Ignoring your taxes can lead to penalties, but Smith says if you contact the IRS it will listen.

"Anybody for any reason can get in a tough spot from time to time.  We're willing to work with people to try to work out those tax debts, those tax obligations," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb222011

Wall Street Reflects Libya's Impact

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As the closing bell tolled Tuesday, the effects of the violence in Libya’s streets were evident on Wall Street. The board stock market measure -- the S&P 500 -- was down by more than two percent for the day.
 
Unrest in oil-producing Libya has helped push energy prices higher during the past several days, giving traders concern that increasing costs could cut into corporate profits, and, if the rising prices continue for weeks or months, might knock the American consumer back into a penny-pinching recession mode.
 
Investors moved out of corporate stocks and into traditional safe havens like U.S. Treasuries and gold in an attempt to protect their portfolio values.
 
But it wasn’t just international geopolitics that had people selling.
 
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, reported Q4 results which disappointed as operations in the U.S. continued to show weakness. Low-income consumers are not spending more as their jobs prospects continue to languish, and the wealthier Americans who had “traded down” to Walmart’s low-price promise have moved back up the retail food chain.
 
Additionally, the Case-Shiller home price report for December showed a significant 2.4-percent drop in home prices during the past year in 20 of the nation’s largest cities as the housing market takes a second dip into negative territory.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Tuesday
Feb222011

Financial Disclosure: Top White House Aides Made Millions

Photo Courtesy - Harvard[dot]edu/Official White House Photo(WASHINGTON) -- The two men now running the White House for President Obama made millions last year from corporations.

In 2010, new White House Chief of Staff William Daley made more than $15 million in compensation and stock from JP Morgan, Boeing, and Abbott Labs, while new White House senior adviser David Plouffe made $1.5 million from consulting and speaking fees, according to White House financial disclosure forms.

Daley was Midwest chairman and head of corporate responsibility for JP Morgan Chase, making $8.7 million, including a $675,000 salary and a $4.8 million bonus.

Plouffe provided consulting services for The Boeing Company and General Electric, whose CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, President Obama recently appointed to chair a new presidential commission on competitiveness and growth.

The 2008 campaign manager for then-Sen. Obama also received lucrative contracts for speeches he gave to a host of corporate clients with billions of dollars worth of business in Washington, D.C., including the health insurance companies that belong to Medicaid Healthplans of America; members of the American Hospital Association; and the National Association for Homecare and Hospice, which calls itself “the leading voice for home care and hospice before Congress and the White House…actively engaged in molding legislation, as well as being on top of all the late-breaking revisions affecting home care and hospice agencies.”

Plouffe was paid by the Carlyle Group, one of the top private equity firms in the world; Credit Suisse; Fidelity Investment Services; Lockheed Martin; Florida Power & Light Company; Edison Electric Institute; National Propane Gas Association; General Mills, and more.

Penguin publishers paid Plouffe an advance of $575,000 for his book The Audacity to Win. He owns property in Cape Cod, Mass. and a 119-acre farm in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio