Are the fries at some McDonald's restaurants served up with a chip on the shoulder? Facing sagging sales at its US outlets, the number one fast food company is opting for a manners makeover. The Wall Street Journal says McDonald's is pushing franchise owners to improve service because of rising complaints about rude employees. In a webcast McDonald's executives held with franchise owners the top customer complaint was said to be rude or unprofessional employees.
Consumers may love their tablets and mobile devices, but the ailing personal computer market is getting weaker. The research firm IDC says global PC shipments fell 14 percent in the first three months of this year. That's the sharpest drop since the firm's first report on the industry in 1994. IDC says the appeal of tablets and smartphones is pulling money away from PC sales, but it also blames Microsoft's Windows 8, which has a new look and forces users to learn new ways to control their machines. "While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8," says IDC executive Bob O'Donnell, "the radical changes to the UI, removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices. Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market."
The latest report on home foreclosures is another sign of improvement for the housing market. Listings firm RealtyTrac says the number of homes repossessed by lenders last month fell to the lowest level in more than five years. The foreclosure listing firm says that while some states still saw increases in homes taken back by banks, nationally home repossessions fell 3 percent in March from the previous month and were down 21 percent from a year earlier.
The stock market just keeps rolling along - reaching new highs. The Dow Jones Industrial index jumped 129 points yesterday, the third straight daily gain. The Nasdaq had a 1.8 percent increase, the largest rise for the averages. Asian stocks rose overnight with another bounce for Japan's Nikkei. One reason for the strong stock market is recent moves by the Federal Reserve and Japan's Central Bank to purchase large amounts of government bonds and keep interest rates very low. Both central banks pushed down bond yields making safer investments even less attractive than they were, prompting a fresh push into stocks
Stock funds and bond funds attracted a combined $193 billion in the first three months of 2013, industry consultant Strategic Insight said . That tops the previous record of $140 billion in net deposits during the first quarter of 2007. This year's figures suggest that investors are getting comfortable with stocks again following the financial meltdown and market plunge of 2008-2009.
Ooops! A data mix-up at the Federal Reserve. Employees at some of Wall Street's biggest banks and financial firms were among those to receive market-sensitive information from the Fed a day early. In a statement The Federal Reserve said minutes from a March policy meeting were inadvertently emailed to more than 100 congressional staffers and trade group officials on Tuesday afternoon. After the error was discovered the minutes were made public five hours before their scheduled release. The flub raises questions about the Fed handles sensitive information.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesabc