Morning Business Memo:
It’s a miserable Monday morning for the global economy as gloom gathers over the prospects for growth. The surprisingly weak US jobs report on Friday was the catalyst for another sell-off in financial markets. The Dow Jones industrials fell to an eight-month low. Asian stock markets closed sharply lower overnight after a report from China showed a slowdown in manufacturing growth. Unemployment in the 17 countries that use the euro currency stayed at a record-high of 11 percent in April.
Is there any good news out there? Yes… inflation is tame and interest rates are at record lows. Motorists are likely to see more price breaks at the pumps. The price of oil is down to eight-month lows with worries about global growth have driven crude costs down. The belief among traders is that oil demand will grow less than expected this year. In the past month crude prices have fallen 23 percent.
Euro debt: Portugal’s finance minister says today foreign bailout creditors are providing another batch of the country’s $96 billion rescue package after concluding the government is abiding by the terms of the loan. Portugal needed a rescue package a year ago after a decade of weak growth and rising debt spooked investors, who began charging it unaffordable rates for credit.
Facebook for kids? The Wall Street Journal reports Facebook is working on new technology that would allow children under 13 to use the social networking site under parental supervision. Childrens’ accounts could be connected to their parents’. They’d be able to “decide whom their kids can friend and what applications they can use,” sources tell the Journal. Under current rules Facebook bans users under 13, but many kids lie about their ages to get accounts.
No smiley faces at Sony. The stock price for the Japanese consumer electronics giant fell below 1,000 yen Monday for the first time since 1980. Sony, battered by competition from Apple, Samsung and other firms, has had losses for four straight years.
Many farmers are paid subsidies by the US government whether or not they plant crops. This week the Senate may begin debating a five-year farm and food aid bill that would save more than $9 billion. The new program would end direct payments to farmers, and replace them with subsidized insurance programs for when the weather turns bad or crop prices drop.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio