Morning Business Memo:
You may be part of this trend. Consumers have been spending a lot more on tablets and smart phones but less on personal computers. The research firm Gartner says PC shipments during the summer quarter fell more than 8 percent compared with the year before. “A continuing slowdown in consumer PC shipments played a big part in the overall PC market decline,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “The third quarter was also a transitional quarter before Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system release.” But the demand for Windows 8 computers during the holiday season may fall short of expectations. In another change, Gartner says Lenovo took the No. 1 position in worldwide PC shipments for the first time in the company’s history. HP slipped to No. 2.
More good news on housing as the worst of the crisis subsides. In September, the number of foreclosure filings dropped to a five-year low. “We’re certainly past the peak of this foreclosure problem,” says Darren Blomquist of the listings firm RealtyTrac. We’ve seen “24 straight months of decreasing foreclosure activity on a year-over-year basis nationwide.” But foreclosure totals are still way above where they were before the housing bubble burst.
You will probably pay more to heat your home this coming winter, and the reason is the weather. Last winter was the mildest on record in most of the country, saving many households hundreds of dollars in heating costs. Bruce McDowell of the American Gas Association says don’t expect a repeat. “Usage is going to go up because we had the warmest winter on record.” Natural customers have seen the price per unit fall sharply in recent years because supplies have increased, “We’ve been fortunate to have an abundance of natural gas.” The annual Winter Fuels Outlook from the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration forecasts heating bills will rise 20 percent for heating oil customers, 15 percent for natural gas, 13 percent for propane and 5 percent for electricity customers.
More headaches for the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy. Spain has been downgraded by Standard and Poor’s to just one notch above junk. S&P says its action is because of Spain’s recession high unemployment and social unrest. The head of the International Monetary Fund has called for urgent action to tackle the European debt crisis and the slowdown in global growth. IMF chief Christine Lagarde in Tokyo today praised recent steps by the European Central Bank and European governments but said “more needs to happen and faster.”
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc