Morning Business Memo:
Move over Apple. You're not the only game in town. South Korea's Samsung Electronics has become the world's largest manufacturer of smartphones, with soaring sales of mobile devices based on Google's Android software. The Galaxy Note and Galaxy S2 were hot sellers. Samsung's first-quarter profit soared 82 percent as the firm's broad range of products outsold Apple's iPhone. Samsung is a giant corporation, with quarterly sales of $40 billion, up more than 20 percent from the year before.
Amazon is another Apple rival and it's spending big to boost market share. While profits dropped 35 percent for the first quarter, sales rose 34 percent. Amazon continues to expand beyond its roots as an online seller of books, saying the Kindle Fire tablet computer was its best-selling item and helped lift revenue from digital movies and books.
"Customers are buying a lot of content," says Amazon chief financial officer Tom Szkutak. "You're seeing that accelerate." Amazon shares shot up 13 percent after its quarterly profits were announced.
The worst may well be over for housing, especially in much of the country where foreclosures have not been nearly as widespread as in the most distressed local markets. The Wall Street Journal says bidding wars are back in some areas. "From California to Florida, many buyers are increasingly competing for the same house." Shares in the home builder Pulte shot up 10 percent after the company reported an increase in permits to build new homes. Yesterday's upbeat report from The National Association of Realtors on contracts in the pipeline for homebuyers was a plus for stocks. The Dow Jones index rose for a third straight day - up 114 points yesterday.
The pain in Spain gets worse. The unemployment rate rose to 24.4 percent in the first three months of this year. This came one day after Standard and Poor's downgraded Spain's credit rating, citing a growing budget deficit, worries over the banking system, and poor economic prospects.
Morning Business Memo will return on Monday, May 14.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio twitter.com/daviesabc