Consumer sentiment drops
Consumer sentiment cooled again this month to its lowest level in seven months as people took a dim view of their finances and job prospects, a survey released on Friday showed. Separately, producer prices rose only slightly last month as energy costs dropped, suggesting inflation pressures remain muted and leaving the door open for more easing by the Federal Reserve. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s preliminary reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment fell to 72.0 from 73.2 last month, frustrating economists’ expectations for a slight gain to 73.4. It was the lowest level since December last year.
Euro flawed, Buffett says
Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett said he did not think the eurozone could survive in its current form unless all 17 countries involved can agree on monetary policies. Buffett said the system Europe set up had a fundamental flaw in it. Buffett appeared on Bloomberg TV on Friday. Buffett said the 17 countries that share the euro currency have been working to patch their system, but it was difficult to agree when 17 members are involved.
Borrowing costs cut
Italian banks came to the rescue on Friday after the country suffered a ratings downgrade, but while Rome cut its three-year borrowing costs at auction, a rise in 10-year bond yields highlighted concern it may fall victim to Europe’s debt crisis. Moody’s cut Italy’s sovereign debt rating to “Baa2” on Friday, citing doubts over Italy’s long-term resolve to push through much-needed reforms and saying persistent worries about Spain and Greece were increasing its liquidity risks. Solid domestic demand helped the Italian Treasury sell the top planned amount of 5.25 billion euros (US$6.43 billion) in bonds, paying less than a month ago on three-year paper. A new 2015 bond was sold at an average 4.65 percent rate, compared with the 5.3 percent Italy paid last month.
RIM liable over patent
Research In Motion Ltd (RIM), the BlackBerry device maker seeking a comeback after falling behind Apple Inc and Google Inc, was found liable by a federal jury for US$147.2 million in damages for infringing patents held by Mformation Technologies Inc. Jurors determined that closely held Mformation, based in Edison, New Jersey, proved at trial in federal court in San Francisco that RIM software enabling companies to manage workers’ BlackBerry devices remotely from a server infringed Mformation’s inventions. The software is called BlackBerry Enterprise Server. Mformation, a maker of mobile-device management software, sued RIM in 2008, alleging infringement of two patents. The company claimed it disclosed details of the technology to RIM during licensing discussions. After refusing to take a license, the BlackBerry maker modified its software to include the patented systems, Mformation said in its complaint. Amar Thakur, Mformation’s attorney, said the jury’s damage award is for royalties on past sales of devices to non-government US customers. Damages for future sales outside the US and government customers could increase the amount by two to three times, he said in an interview after the verdict.