- - Monday, October 17, 2011

OIL

Elusive Europe debt plan causes crude prices to fall

NEW YORK — Oil prices fell Monday as Europe’s debt crisis fueled concerns about future energy demand.

Benchmark crude finished down 42 cents at $86.38 per barrel in New York, while Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, fell $2.07 to end at $110.16 a barrel in London.

Oil has tumbled about 24 percent since May on fears of a slowdown in the global economy. Investors focused on weak gasoline demand in the U.S. and budget problems in Greece.

Prices started to rise last week as European leaders appeared to be near a turning point. On Monday, German finance chief Wolfgang Schaeuble dampened expectations that they would hammer out a comprehensive solution at an upcoming summit.

MANUFACTURING

Factory output increases on truck, airplane demand

Factory output rose for a third straight month in September, a sign the economy is growing slowly. Manufacturers made more airplanes, trucks and home electronics to meet rising demand.

Output at U.S. factories increased 0.4 percent in September after gaining 0.3 percent in August, the Federal Reserve said Monday.

Production of business equipment rose 1 percent, the third straight increase of 1 percent or more. Transit equipment and information processing equipment drove the gain.

Auto output increased for a third straight month, home electronics production for a fifth.

EUROPE

Central bank economist calls for eurozone controls

FRANKFURT, Germany — The European Central Bank’s departing chief economist is saying that more European Union control over nations’ budgets is the way to avoid another eurozone debt crisis.

Juergen Stark told an EU parliamentary committee Monday that countries in the eurozone need to be ready to “give up national sovereignty” over deficits and debt.

He said the EU should make comprehensive changes to its basic treaty, which could take years.

He backed calls by outgoing European Central Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet for an eventual European finance ministry to police spending.

Mr. Stark warned that helping troubled countries borrow through eurobonds backed by all 17 euro countries would only lessen incentives to reduce spending and deficits.

TECHNOLOGY

Free apps, support offered to furious BlackBerry users

TORONTO — Trying to make amends for massive outages last week, Research In Motion on Monday promised BlackBerry users free premium apps and a month of technical support.

But the apology is unlikely to placate miffed customers, many of whom are considering whether to part with the tarnished brand in favor of more popular devices such as Apple’s newest iPhone.

Jim Balsillie, one of the company’s two CEOs, acknowledged in an interview with the Associated Press on Monday that his company has come under intense pressure. Even so, Mr. Balsillie defended RIM’s handling of the crisis, the company’s worst outage ever. He noted that RIM has survived other rough times.

The Canadian company said it will give BlackBerry users free apps worth more than $100. The apps will be available over the coming weeks on BlackBerry@ App World. They include iSpeech Translator, Bejeweled and Texas Hold’em Poker 2. The offer runs until the end of the year.

CELLPHONES

Wireless companies to alert users about limits

NEW YORK — Cellphone companies pledged Monday to warn subscribers before they exceed their monthly limits for calling minutes, text messages and data use.

The pledge was made in response to a threat of regulation by the Federal Communications Commission, which wants to curb nasty surprises in the monthly bills of wireless subscribers.

CTIA — The Wireless Association, a trade group representing the major cellphone companies, said it also is promising to warn subscribers that they are paying roaming fees if they travel abroad.

The warnings will arrive as text messages, and subscribers won’t need to sign up for them.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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