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With our investment news briefs, Money Morning provides investors with a quick overview of the most important investing news stories from all around the world.
Oil Rises on China Demand, Slowing U.S. Recession; Homebuilder Shares Surge After Order Increase; Natural Gas ETF to Suspend New Share Offers; Microsoft to Bring Office to Nokia Smartphones; J.D. Power: Auto Sales to Surge Next Year; WTO: China Violated Trade Rules on Books and Movies; Despite Shrinking Sales, Macy's Beats the Street
- to $70.16 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) following an increase in future demand in China and a further abating of the recession in the United States, The Associated Pressreported. Despite shrinking demand for oil domestically, demand in China may not be as weak as once thought, the Paris-based International Energy Agency said.
- Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers Inc. (NYSE: TOL) said lower prices, discounts on mortgage rates and other incentives for buyers resulted in stronger-than-expected ordersin its third quarter ended July 31. The company's net orders totaled 837, up 3% from a year ago and the first time in 16 quarters orders grew. "Although some of our markets are still stuck in the mud, many are improving," said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Toll. "While we have to work very hard for our sales, it does feel as if the fence sitters are looking for reasons to jump in on the side of buying. Price is no longer the overwhelmingly dominant factor." Toll Brothers shares surged 14.36% to close at $23.42.
- The United States Natural Gas Fund LP (NYSE: UNG), the largest exchange-traded fund (ETF) in the world, will suspend new share offers on concern that regulators will block it from natural gas investments, Bloomberg News reported. UNG said in a regulatory filing yesterday (Wednesday) that it won approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell up to 1 billion new units, causing the fund to triple in size. However, until UNG knows it can fulfill its investment objectives or know what regulatory limits it may face for energy product holdings, it won't offer new units. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) heard testimony in July and Augustthat commodity funds may be distorting energy prices.
- Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Nokia Corporation (NYSE ADR: NOK) of Microsoft's suite of Office programs onto Nokia phones that run its Symbian operating system. The partnership will also bring Microsoft's business communications, collaboration and device management software to Nokia phones. The phones will be marketed to businesses, carriers and individuals, said Nokia, which is the world's largest manufacturer of smartphones. BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. (Nasdaq: RIMM) is the No. 1 seller of smartphones in the United States.
- U.S. auto sales may grow almost 15% to reach 11.5 million units in 2010, according to market research firm J.D. Power & Associates. "We do see the credit market is a little better. The financial market is stabilizing. Consumer confidence is edging along," J.D. Power Senior Vice President Gary Dilts told Reuters in an interview. "We're pretty confident that unless something really goes wrong, 2010 is going to be a million or a million and half units better than this year."
- China has violated international free trade rules by limiting imports of books and movies, a World Trade Organization panel ruled, according to report in The New York Times. The ruling follows complaints from the United States and Europe about Chinese trade policies. "This decision promises to level the playing field for American companies working to distribute high-quality entertainment products in China, so that legitimate American products can get to market and beat out the pirates." said U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk, referring to the rampant piracy of movies in Mainland China.
- Shares in high-end retailer Macy's Inc. (NYSE: M) rose more than 6% to close at $16.40 after it beat analyst estimates following efforts to cut costs. The company reported a net income of $7 million, or 2 cents a share for the quarter ended August 1. That compares to a net income of $73 million, or 17 cents a share. Excluding restructuring charges, Macy's earned 20 cents a share, exceeding the average estimate of 15 cents. Revenue fell to $5.16, down 10% from last year's $5.71 billion, while same-store sales dropped 9.5%.