Microsoft says CEO Ballmer to retire in 12 months
NEW YORK (AP) — Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer, who took over the helm of the world’s largest software company from founder Bill Gates, will retire within the next 12 months.
The company did not name a successor but is forming a search committee, which will include Gates. Ballmer will stay on until a replacement is found.
Ballmer said in a statement that the company is moving in a new direction and needs a CEO that will be there for the longer term.
It’s been less than two months since Microsoft announced a sweeping reorganization of its business in an attempt to reignite competition with faster-moving rivals such as Apple and Google. And response to the newest version of Microsoft’s flagship Windows operating system has been lukewarm.
Microsoft, along with other companies that thrived in the era of personal computers, are scrambling to transform their businesses as people come to rely more and more on smartphones and tablets.
Jump in mortgage rates hurts US sales of new homes
WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans cut back sharply in July on their purchases of new homes, a sign that higher mortgage rates may slow the housing recovery.
U.S. sales of newly built homes dropped 13.4 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 394,000, the Commerce Department said Friday. That’s the lowest in nine months. And sales fell from a rate of 455,000 in June, which was revised down from a previously reported 497,000.
The housing rebound that began last year has helped drive economic growth and create more construction jobs. But mortgage rates have climbed a full percentage point since May. The increase has begun to steal some momentum from the market.
IMF head: Weak nations still need central-bank aid
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. (AP) — The head of the International Monetary Fund cautioned the world’s major central banks Friday not to withdraw their unconventional support for weak economies too soon.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said stimulative policies are still needed in key regions, especially Europe and Japan, which have struggled with prolonged weakness. She made the comments as part of the Federal Reserve’s annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Lagarde said central banks must carefully develop strategies for scaling back their efforts to keep borrowing rates low. Any pullback should be determined by the strength of individual economies, she said.
Her comments come as the Fed is signalling that it could slow its bond purchases later this year if the U.S. economy continues to improve. The Fed’s bond buying has helped keep U.S. interest rates near record lows.
The anticipation of a slowdown in Fed bond buying has unsettled U.S. stock and bond markets and sent interest rates up. Rising U.S. rates have, in turn, triggered turmoil in some emerging economies, such as Turkey, India and Indonesia. Officials in those countries have tried to halt declines in the value of their currencies as investors have shifted money into higher-yielding investments elsewhere.
Ex-fund manager got help from multiple doctors
NEW YORK (AP) — A former hedge fund portfolio manager charged with carrying out a record-setting insider trading scheme was accused in a rewritten indictment Thursday of trying to corrupt over 20 doctors into providing an inside edge on a secret clinical trial.
The superseding indictment in U.S. District Court in Manhattan said Mathew Martoma succeeded in getting at least two doctors to provide illegal information in a scheme that stretched from 2006 to 2008 while he worked at SAC Capital Advisors. The Boca Raton, Fla., man has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and securities fraud and is scheduled to appear in court Friday. He is free on bail.
Martoma was arrested in November on charges he persuaded a medical professor to leak secret data from an Alzheimer’s disease trial. Prosecutors said the inside information enabled other investment professionals at the hedge fund founded by Steven A. Cohen to earn a quarter-billion dollars illegally.
Feds probe Jeep Grand Cherokee ceiling fires
DETROIT (AP) — U.S. auto safety regulators are investigating complaints that the ceilings can catch fire in 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs.
The probe, announced Friday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, covers an estimated 146,000 of the popular sport utility vehicles.
Three customers complained to the government that their ceilings caught fire near the passenger-side sun visor while they were driving, starting with a burning smell, then smoke and flames. In all three cases, customers lowered their windows to clear the smoke, but that increased the fire’s intensity.
The fires continued after the SUVs had been shut off, and flames had to be put out with fire extinguishers or by firefighters. The flames caused a sunroof to shatter in one instance, while in another, a burning sun visor fell to the passenger seat and spread the flames, NHTSA said.
The safety agency said it had no reports of any injuries.
Gov’t seeks new limits on silica dust
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators announced plans Friday to dramatically limit workplace exposure to silica dust, an agent known to cause crippling lung disease and cancer in thousands of workers each year.
The proposal from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would cut in half the amount of silica exposure allowed for general industry and maritime workers. It would slash it by 80 per cent for those in the construction industry.
OSHA officials estimated the long-awaited new limits would save nearly 700 lives each year and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis annually for those working at construction sites, glass manufacturing plants and other industries.
Workplace safety groups have urged OSHA for years to set new exposure limits, saying they would protect lives. But the proposed new rule is expected to face strong opposition from industry groups that contend lower limits are not necessary and will be too difficult and costly to measure for thousands of businesses.
By The Associated Press=
The Dow Jones Industrial average rose 46.77 points, or 0.3 per cent, to close at 15,010.51. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 6.54 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 1,663.50. The Nasdaq composite rose 19.09 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 3,657.79.
Benchmark oil for October delivery gained $1.39, or 1.4 per cent, to close at $106.42 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Heating oil added 3 cents to $3.10 per gallon. Natural gas fell 6 cents to $3.49 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline gained 3 cents to $2.87 per gallon.
Brent crude, which sets prices for imported oil used by many U.S. refineries, gained $1.14 to $111.04 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.