Morning Business Memo:
Phones, games and tablets. Let the gadget war begin as the holiday shopping season approaches. The big names in tech are making a splash. Amazon kicked off a tablet computer price war, launching four new devices priced as low as $159. ABC News tech editor Joanna Stern covered the Amazon event and has first impressions of the new devices. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos talked up the cheaper data plan for the Kindle Fire, contrasting it with the high-cost package for Apple's iPad. Consumers face a growing number of tablet choices, including new entries from Microsoft and Google. The market for smartphones is becoming much more crowded. This week Nokia and Motorola showed off brand-new products. Last week Samsung boosted its offerings for the holiday shopping season with an updated version of the big screen Galaxy Note. Next week Apple is expected to launch the next iPhone.
The marketplace for handheld gaming devices is also growing more crowded. USA Today reports: "In addition to Amazon's plan to bring new cloud-game-ready Kindle Fire HD devices to market, toss in an expected Apple mini-iPad and upcoming Xbox-friendly Windows 8 phones. Also coming: a kid-centric PlayMG handheld and the larger Wikipad gaming tablet." Analysts say games have emerged as top apps for mobile devices and they also help drive sales of tablets and smartphones.
The economy might be struggling but take a look at the stock market. The averages opened for business this morning at multiyear highs. There was a big rally overnight in Asia. The baseline average for many mutual funds, the S&P 500 index is at its highest level since January 2008. The Dow rose 245 points, or 1.9 percent, to 13,292, the highest close since December 2007.
Most of the rise is in response to action by the European Central Bank. A long-awaited plan to support struggling eurozone economies involves unlimited purchases of government bonds to bring down the rates of the worst-hit currencies. Interest rates for Italy and Spain dropped further from crisis levels: good news for governments dealing with the high borrowing costs. Once close to 7 percent, Italy's 10-year rate fell to a little more than 5 percent this morning.
Europe's bond buying program gave a boost to commodities. Gold topped $1,700 an ounce for the first time in six months. Prices for oil, silver, wheat, and corn all moved higher
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc