- - Monday, May 23, 2011


Gas price drops 11.1 cents in one week

The U.S. average price for gasoline fell 11.1 cents over the past week to $3.85 a gallon, as cheaper crude oil saved drivers money at the pump, the Energy Department said Monday.

The national gasoline price is still $1.06 higher than a year ago, based on the department’s weekly survey of service stations.


Sony to report $3.2 billion annual loss

TOKYO — Sony Corp. is expecting an annual loss of $3.2 billion, reversing its earlier projection of a return to profit, as the electronics giant struggles with production disruptions from Japan’s tsunami.

The Japanese maker of PlayStation 3 video game machines and Bravia flat-panel TVs said Monday that the projection of a $3.2 billion ( in U.S. dollars) net loss for the fiscal year ended March 2011 was largely due to writing off $4.4 billion related to a tax credit booked in a previous quarter.

Sony announced the loss ahead of its official earnings announcement Thursday under Tokyo Stock Exchange guidelines. The company had earlier projected a $860 million profit.


IBM passes Microsoft’s market cap after 15 years

NEW YORK — IBM surged past old rival Microsoft Corp. in market value for the first time since April 1996, marking the latest twist in the fluctuating fortunes of two of the world’s most storied technology companies.

IBM ruled the computer industry for decades until it hired the tiny, unknown Microsoft to provide an operating system for its new range of personal computers in the early 1980s.

Bill Gates parlayed that breakthrough into industry dominance, proving his theory that software would be more valuable than hardware, so that by the end of 1999 Microsoft’s market value was three times that of IBM’s.


Fitch cuts ratings outlook

LONDON — Fitch Ratings agency on Monday cut the outlook for Belgium’s government bonds, citing the risk that political disagreements over the creation of a new government could hurt the country’s drive to lower debt.

Fitch affirmed the country’s AA+ rating, but the negative outlook means there is a chance it could be downgraded in coming months.

The outlook cut reflects “concerns over the pace of structural reform in the coming years and the ability to accelerate fiscal consolidation without a resolution to the constitutional crisis,” said Douglas Renwick, director in Fitch’s sovereign group.

Belgium has been without a government for almost a year due to a standoff between Dutch-speaking and French-speaking parties.

The insistence on more self-rule in Dutch-speaking Flanders has been at the heart of the political stalemate that has shaken the country of 6 million Flemings and 5 million Francophones to its roots, and even prompted some to contemplate for the first time the end of the nation.


Chrysler plans to repay loans Tuesday

MACOMB TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says his company will save $300 million in interest per year when it repays government loans on Tuesday.

The company will repay roughly $7.5 billion in loans to the U.S. and Canadian governments. Chrysler is taking out new bank loans and selling bonds to make the payment.

Chrysler got about $10.5 billion from the U.S. to survive bankruptcy in 2009. It has repaid some of the money and plans to give the U.S. $5.9 billion on Tuesday.

The company still owes the U.S. government $2 billion. The government could get some of that back by selling its 8.6 percent stake in Chrysler.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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