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Apple's iWatch: The Next Hot Thing?

Morning Business Memo…

Apple has applied for the patent "iWatch" in Japan, as speculation grows about new kinds of hot tech products. In recent weeks there have been growing indications that Apple, Samsung and Sony are all working on wearable devices. Last week Sony announced the latest version of its SmartWatch, a water-resistant device with NFC, says PCWorld. Samsung said recently that it is working on a smart watch. The New York Times reported in February that Apple was experimenting with the design of a device similar to a wristwatch that would operate on the same iOS platform as its iPhone and iPad and would be made with curved glass.

Both Samsung and Apple are seeking to wow consumers who are looking for more than a larger screen or faster download speeds on their smartphones. A shocker for Samsung, as sales for its Galaxy S4 smartphone failed to live up to investor expectations. Bloomberg News says 15 analysts cut second-quarter net income estimates for Samsung in June. Samsung's share price dropped more than 12 percent last month.

It was a great first half of 2013, but a difficult month for the stock market. Both the Dow Jones Index and S&P 500 are up more than 13 percent since the beginning of the year. Stock market futures rose this morning. June was a turbulent month for the bond market, with the worst monthly losses in years. The sudden rise in interest rates was the reason for losses in most bond funds.

China has gone from being a driver to a drag on global economic growth. Two surveys show China's manufacturing weakened again in June amid a credit crunch and slower orders from overseas businesses. HSBC says its monthly purchasing managers' index declined to 48.2. Numbers below 50 show a contraction. A separate measure by an industry group, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, showed activity declined to 50.1. Manufacturers were hurt by falling orders and a shortage of credit in June as Chinese regulators are trying to cool a lending boom they worry could race out of control.

Another record high for unemployment in the eurozone. A report today puts the official rate up to 12.1 percent. The jobless rate is far higher in most of southern Europe.

A blockbuster merger in the publishing industry. Random House and Penguin group have completed an agreement that creates the world's largest publisher of consumer books. Parent companies Bertelsmann and Pearson say they've signed the final contracts to combine the global activities of the two publishers and create Penguin Random House.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesabc

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