Morning Business Memo

Dec 30, 2011 7:35am

Is Verizon Wireless the new Netflix or Bank of America? The Web lit up with consumer fury over a new $2 “convenience fee” imposed by Verizon for one-time online or phone payments.

Subscribers who write checks, go in person to Verizon Wireless stores or make regular monthly payments from their bank accounts will not have to pay the new fee. The new fee takes effect Jan. 15, and soon after it was announced Verizon customers flooded Twitter and other sites with complaints. “Verizon is now Ticketmaster. Are you kidding me?,” one angry video blogger said on YouTube.

This was the year to have your 401(k) funds in U.S. stocks, not overseas. The Dow Jones index is likely to finish today with a small gain for the year, despite the recent rise in volatility, and fears of European financial meltdown.

As of this morning, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index is up 1 percent for 2011 while the technology heavy Nasdaq is down 1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei had a terrible year with its lowest close since 1982.

 The earthquake and tsunami in March had a devastating impact on Japan’s economy. The Shanghai and Hong Kong markets ended the year with double-digit losses. Most overseas stock averages are down more than 10 percent.

Good news on inflation could be coming in the new year. After a price spike months ago, commodities have plunged. Cotton prices are down more than 50 percent this year. Corn and copper have also fallen sharply from their 2011 highs.

American Airlines will be de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange, its shares dropped from trading. This follows the bankruptcy filing last month by American’s parent company, AMR.

United Airlines and the Teamsters union say the carrier’s mechanics have ratified a new labor contract. With the agreement, the two sides will begin negotiations on a single contract to cover mechanics who came from both United and Continental. The two airlines combined in October 2010.

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