Morning Business Memo

The big event for many gadget lovers, The Consumer Electronics Show, opens tomorrow in Las Vegas. But it comes at a dismal time for much of the industry. A research firm says U.S. sales of consumer electronics fell 5.9 percent this past holiday season, as smartphones cannibalized sales of standalone gadgets like cameras, camcorders and GPS navigation devices.

The NPD Group says camcorder sales plunged 43 percent, and sales of digital picture frames fell 38 percent. GPS units slumped 33 percent. The New York Times says the CES has lost clout as a place where big news is made. Microsoft says the 2012 will be its last for exhibiting. Recent hot product announcements - including the iPad, iPhone, and Kindle - were made at separate events.

Lions Gate may buy the studio that created the teen smash "Twilight" series, for about $400 million in cash and stock. Talks are said to be in their final stages. A tie-up between Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. and Summit Entertainment, producer of the "Twilight" blockbuster saga, would create one of the largest movie and TV studios in Hollywood.

Gasoline prices are moving up. The Lundberg survey says the average price of a gallon nationwide rose 12 cents over the past three weeks. The latest weekly survey from the AAA reports a 9 cent rise. The official gas price index from the US Energy Department will be released later today.

Some call it the Merkozy summit. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Nicholas Sarkozy of France are meeting today. They're discussing efforts to impose fiscal discipline on European nations. Germany has insisted on austerity measures to lower budget deficits and boost investor confidence. The euro currency is now around a 15-month low against the dollar. Italy's borrowing costs have been rising again to dangerously high levels - a sign investors are still concerned about a debt default.

Richard Davies, Business Correspondent, ABC NEWS Radio

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