Monday, February 1, 2010

WSJ News Feb. 1

Windows 7 fails to boost PC makers profits
Microsoft Corp.'s new Windows 7 operating system has fattened the company's earnings and boosted personal-computer sales at retailers like Best Buy Co. But it hasn't increased the profits of PC giants Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Inc. and others. While consumers purchased more than 90 million new PCs during the holiday quarter, when Microsoft released Windows 7, up 22% from a year earlier, PC revenue grew at just a single-digit rate, analysts say.

Obama proposes a $3.8 trillion budget
WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama proposed a $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal 2011 that will add fuel to the debate over the size and scope of government. The plan includes big increases in personal and business taxes, modest spending cuts and increased outlays for education, defense and jobs initiatives.The Obama administration has focused in the days leading up to Monday's formal release on proposals to cap so-called discretionary spending, roughly 17% of the total budget, as part of a plan to start narrowing the record $1.6 trillion gap between proposed budget outlays and tax receipts.

Factory sector books best performance in five years
U.S. factory sector activity booked its best performance in more than five years in January, amid a rebound in hiring and rising price pressures. In a key report, private research group the Institute for Supply Management said Monday its index of manufacturing activity moved to 58.4 in January, the best reading since August 2004, from 54.9 in December and 53.7 in November. Readings over 50 indicate growth and describe the breadth, but not magnitude, of the change. Economists had expected the index to come in at 55.3.

Exxon Mobil's fourth quarter profit falls
Exxon Mobil Corp.'s fourth-quarter earnings fell 23% as lower profit margins for refining and fuels and lower natural-gas prices were partly offset by higher prices for crude oil.
Prices for oil products like gasoline and diesel have failed to keep pace with the rising price of crude, putting intense pressure on refining profit margins, and leading to losses, shutdowns and some refiners putting operations on the block.

Crude oil prices climb to $72 a barrel
NEW YORK -- Crude futures rose Monday on positive corporate earnings and due to geopolitical tensions.
Light, sweet crude for March delivery recently traded 42 cents, or 0.6%, higher at $73.31 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange traded 47 cents, or 0.7%, higher at $71.93 a barrel.

Obama proposes boosting education department spending
WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama's proposal to boost the Education Department by 9%, even as other areas get squeezed, highlights one area where the administration and Republicans have found some common ground.Most of the additional $4.5 billion in spending proposed for the Education Department new money is slated to fund competitive programs, making the budget a key part of an administration bid to transform how local school officials interact with the federal government.

Toyota has fix for gas pedal problems
DETROIT – Toyota Motor Corp. said on Monday that it has already begun shipping a fix to the gas pedal problem involved in the recall of millions of vehicles and forced the company to stop selling eight of its models in the U.S. and some other countries around the world.Toyota has pinpointed the issue that could, on rare occasions, cause accelerator pedals in recalled vehicles to stick in a partially open position. The issue involves a friction device in the pedal designed to provide the proper "feel" by adding resistance and making the pedal steady and stable, Toyota said. The device includes a shoe that rubs against an adjoining surface during normal pedal operation.

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