Morning Business Memo…
Recent hits on dozens of online banking sites may be the work of government-backed hackers in Iran, according to US security officials. Since last September hackers have cause slowdowns and other disruptions to widely used banking sites. Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Capital One, HSBC and Bank of America are among the sites that were hit. Consumers who tried to use these sites have faced delays and even shutdowns. According to the New York Times, "the skill required to carry out attacks on this scale has convinced United States government officials and security researchers that they are the work of Iran, most likely in retaliation for economic sanctions and online attacks by the United States."
Three new reports have positive findings about US economic growth. Americans stepped up their borrowing in November. The Federal Reserve says consumer credit rose 7 percent compared to the year before. According to the Census Bureau Americans are moving more after staying put during the recession. A third set of findings shows unemployment in most cities fell below 7 percent in November, suggesting a real improvement in the labor market. The government says the cities with the lowest jobless rates include Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Washington and Boston.
It wasn't just BP. The drilling firm Transocean is set to make a court appearance in New Orleans today for its plea agreement with the Justice Department over the company's role in the huge 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Transocean has agreed to pay $400 million in criminal penalties and plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating the Clean Water Act. The Switzerland-based company also agreed to pay $1 billion in civil penalties. Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which sank after an explosion killed 11 workers and led to the spill.
Apple is said to be working on a cheaper version of the iPhone. The Wall Street Journal says the shell on the low-end iPhone could be made of plastic instead of aluminum. But no decision has been made yet on whether to go ahead with production. Taiwan's Digitimes says Apple is working on a budget iPhone aimed at China and emerging markets.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc