Morning Business Memo
Are you ready for your own single shot of espresso? Starbucks is about to turn up the heat on the single-serve coffee market, introducing a brewer for $199 that can make one-cup servings of espresso, lattes, and oh yes, regular coffee. Before you gulp at the price, it doesn’t take long for that $199 investment to pay off. Think of the savings you can get from not having to put down $3 each time you want your own favorite jolt of Joe at a coffee shop. This week Starbucks has started selling the Verismo, and the machine comes at a time of growing competition for single brewing machines. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters also plans to launch a single-cup espresso machine by early next year.
Be careful what you wish for! Apple fans may be getting really excited about tomorrow’s in-store launch of the iPhone 5. But a survey for SquareTrade, a technology protection plan provider, finds 30 percent of current iPhone users have damaged their device in the last 12 months. Accidental damage is said to be 10 times more common than loss or theft, and the youngest iPhone owners are the clumsiest — half of users under the age of 35 have had an accident with their device. Among the leading costs of damage are: Phone fell into a toilet, sink, hot tub, swimming pool, lake, etc. Phone dropped from a lap. Phone knocked off a table. Phone drenched by some liquid.
The housing market may not be booming but it is blooming: showing signs of life after a five-year slump. Three new reports this week on builder confidence, existing home sales and construction starts all showed improvement. And new census numbers show some Americans are on the move again after record numbers had stayed put. According to new 2011 data, more young adults are leaving their parents’ homes to take a chance with college or the job market. But it may take years to repair the damage of the worst recession in decades. Home ownership dropped for a fifth straight year to 64.6 percent, the lowest in more than a decade, hurt by more stringent financing rules and a shift to renting.
Oil prices are down for the fourth straight day – at $91 for light crude on futures markets. It comes after economic reports from China’s manufacturing and Japan’s trade reinforced a global economic slowdown – with potentially less than expected demand for energy.
Sentencing is scheduled today in San Francisco on what prosecutors call the most serious price-fixing cartel ever prosecuted by the US. The Justice Department is demanding that a “remorseless” Taiwanese company pay a $1 billion fine and two former top executives each serve 10 years in prison. The global price-fixing scheme artificially increased the price of LCD screens used in televisions, computers and other electronic products.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc