Morning Business Memo…
Comcast is buying the rest of NBCUniversal from General Electric, and it's doing it much sooner than expected. The price of GE's remaining 49 percent stake in the entertainment giant is $16.7 billion. The takeover consolidates Comcast as a cable distributor and a content provider. The firm decided it made sense to work out a deal with GE now because the improved performance of the NBC broadcast network and cable-TV programming made it more likely the price would rise in the future. Two years ago Comcast bought 51 percent of NBCU. Comcast shares rose more than 7 percent in the pre-market after the deal was announced.
A new push is on for improved cyber security for crucial parts of the economy. The White House is releasing details of the president's executive order to help protect computer networks of several key U.S. industries. Senior administration officials said the Obama order starts the development of voluntary standards to protect computer systems that run critical sectors of the economy, such as banking, power and transportation. It also directs U.S. defense and intelligence agencies to share classified threat data with those companies. In recent months the administration has boosted spending on cyber defense.
Another big investor in Dell has come out against the proposed $24 billion buyout of the computer firm. A statement by a top executive at the financial firm T. Rowe Price says, "We believe the proposed buyout does not reflect the value of Dell." Last week several other Dell investors announced their opposition to the plan to go private.
The Dow Jones index is now at its highest level since October 2007 and just 1 percent shy of its record. The Dow rose 47 Tuesday. The S&P was up 2, and is also close to its record. Stocks have been powered higher by more positive quarterly earnings. The latest examples were strong results from the beauty products firm Avon and Michael Kors, the high end fashion company.
Valentine's day is Thursday, and it will be a long weekend for many people. Some couples are combining the two for romantic getaway. A new survey by Orbitz says Las Vegas is America's sexiest destination. "We've definitely seen an uptick in travel over the holiday weekend," says Jeanenne Tornatore of Orbitz. "We are seeing hotel prices up a little bit in most of our destinations for the long weekend." One big exception is New Orleans were prices are down compared to President's Day weekend last year because Mardi Gras is over. What do couples want most at hotels during a romantic getaway? "Topping the list were things like champagne and chocolates, couples spa treatments and breakfast in bed," says Tornatore.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc