Morning Business Memo:
Make way for the Tabeo – the latest entry in the increasingly crowded market for tablet computers. The number one toy retailer Toys “R” Us has announced it sell a Wi-Fi tablet aimed at kids. The device will feature “50 free preinstalled apps that were carefully selected to entertain and educate children,” the company said in a statement this morning. The new $149.99 Tabeo will be available only at Toys “R” Us, so shoppers won’t be able to try out in a store and then buy it for less on a rival retailer’s website. Last week Amazon announced new versions of the Kindle Fire for as low as $159. Apple may announce a new smaller tablet to complement the iPad in October.
Average regular gas prices are above $3.80 a gallon across the country. Today’s report from the US Energy Department is expected to show yet another weekly rise. But analysts expect some price relief for motorists this month. “The good news is that the summer ends in terms of the summer specification for gasoline next Saturday so it’s going out with a bang and its going out with some very high prices particularly in the Northeast,” says Tom Kloza with the Oil Price Information Service.
Considering solar heat for your home? The price of solar panels continues to drop as sales soar. The Wall Street Journal reports more solar panels were sold last year in the US than during the previous decade. Most panels come from China. Despite efforts by the Obama Administration to kick start US solar manufacturing, China produces about half of the world’s total output.
Last week the European Central Bank lit up the markets with its bond buying program aimed at giving a boost to Spain, Italy and other debt burdened nations. This week attention shifts to the US central bank. The Federal Reserve may also get into the business of buying more bonds. Investors are waiting to see if the Fed announces a new round of quantitative easing after its meeting Thursday. A big new round of bond buying may lead to even lower interest rates for mortgages and other types of loans.
Last Friday’s dismal employment report from the Labor Department makes another move by the Fed more likely. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has already called high unemployment “a grave concern” and has hinted at more action. “I think the weakness of this report significantly increases the chances the Federal Reserve will be more aggressive,” says Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors. “The potential is for the Fed to reduce the interest rate that they pay banks on their reserves to literally force banks to go out and lend more money.” The aim is boost the economy and the stock market. If bond rates are extremely low, investors are more likely to move money into equities. Stock market averages are already at their highest levels in more than four years, and critics of further Fed easing worry this could lead to higher inflation.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc