Learning to Read, With the Help of a Tablet

August 21, 2013

Learning to Read, With the Help of a Tablet

By KIT EATON

I learned long ago that the iPad’s game and video apps cast a magical spell over my children, but this summer I’ve also been pleased by how much they have learned while using their tablets. This is important, as my 4-year-old is going to “real” school for the first time. His reading skills, in particular, have been helped by some great apps. These have helped him move from knowing shapes and sounds of letters to actually reading words. Read more of this post

Kraft’s Lunchables, the Lunchbox King, Faces a Rival Vowing Higher-Quality Fare to dislodge the leader whose sales accounting for 76 percent of the small but lucrative $1.35 billion niche product category

August 21, 2013

Lunchables, the Lunchbox King, Faces a Rival Vowing Higher-Quality Fare

By STEPHANIE STROM

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Kristin Richmond, right, chief executive of Revolution Foods, and Kirsten Tobey, its chief impact officer, in a company kitchen.

Until now, there have been Lunchables and, well, Lunchables. The Kraft Food Group’s Oscar Mayer brand created the concept of prepackaged lunch meals for children in 1988 and has effectively owned that business ever since, with sales accounting for 76 percent of the small but lucrative $1.35 billion niche product category, according to IRI, a market research firm in Chicago. But starting this month, some grocery refrigerator cases will be adding a new competitor, Revolution Foods Meal Kits.

Read more of this post

Is Google’s Chromecast the future of television?

Is Google’s Chromecast the future of television?

Farhad Manjoo thinks Google’s £30 dongle transform the way you watch your favourite shows

WEDNESDAY 21 AUGUST 2013

Google’s Chromecast doesn’t do much. But what it does do, it does so consistently well, and so cheaply, that it’s quickly became a primary part of my media-watching routine. Chromecast, a little USB-stick-sized device, streams Netflix, YouTube and other sites to your TV. (But wait a second, aren’t Netflix and YouTube also websites? Yes, but there’s a technical distinction we’ll get to in a minute.) Also, Chromecast is fast, unbelievably easy to set up, and pretty much foolproof to use. And it’s £30, which makes it one of the best values in tech, ever. Combine all that and it’s irresistible. In the five days I’ve had it, Chromecast has become my go-to way for streaming shows to my TV. It’s expected to hit shops in the UK before Christmas. Read more of this post

Google in early talks with NFL on ‘Sunday Ticket’ service; “These dynamics have the potential to exacerbate cord cutting and may create a vicious cycle as the cost of programming on traditional TV would move higher with each loss of a subscriber

August 21, 2013, 4:00 p.m. ET

Google Could Open a Hole in Pay TV’s Defense

Search Company Meets With NFL Executives

MIRIAM GOTTFRIED

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Google GOOG +0.45% may have found a path to the end zone for Internet TV. Top executives at the search giant met with representatives from the National Football League, according to a report Tuesday by All Things D. Among the topics of discussion: the Sunday Ticket package, which includes all NFL games not in the viewer’s local market and is offered exclusively by DirecTV DTV -1.88% . There is no indication that Google is anywhere near a deal to offer the package. But the news raises the possibility of a powerful partnership that could be the magic bullet for Google in its goal of luring traditional TV viewers, and associated advertising dollars, to the Internet. Live sporting events are among the primary reasons U.S. consumers pay for TV. Bringing them online as a separate subscription would allow many more people to stop paying for traditional TV. Read more of this post

Amazon Ramps Up $13.9 Billion Warehouse Building Spree

Amazon Ramps Up $13.9 Billion Warehouse Building Spree

(Corrects spending data in second paragraph of story that ran Aug. 20.)

Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) is stepping up a warehouse building spree, signaling the urgency of getting products to customers more quickly amid rising competition from EBay Inc. (EBAY) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Consider Amazon’s center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which opened in 2011 after about 10 months, compared with as much as two years for older warehouses. Boasting more space and technology that makes it easier to find items, the building is part of Amazon’s almost $13.9 billion spending binge on fulfillment expenses — including 50 new facilities — since 2010. That’s more than the company spent on warehouses in its lifetime and brought the total to 89 at the end of 2012. Amazon has announced five more in the U.S. this year. Read more of this post

Online furniture retailer Milan Direct on track to reach $15m revenue as it eyes Asia for growth

Nassim Khadem Reporter

Milan Direct on track to reach $15m revenue as it eyes Asia for growth

Published 20 August 2013 11:45, Updated 21 August 2013 06:54

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“The bricks and mortar retailers don’t really understand online,” says Dean Ramler. Photo: Arsineh Houspian

Australia’s leading online furniture retailer Milan Direct is considering launching into Asia for its next phase of growth. Milan Direct, which in 2007 was co-founded by high school friends Dean Ramler and BRW Young Rich lister Ruslan Kogan, has sold more than 700,000 pieces to customers in more than 40 countries. Chief executive Ramler says the company is on track to reach $15 million in revenue this financial year, slightly lower than that predicted in a recent report by IBISWorld (the research house had tipped Milan Direct’s revenue would hit $18.5 million). But it’s still a remarkable growth rate – in the financial year 2012, the business achieved revenue of $12.6million, about double its financial year 2011 revenue of $6.7 million. Read more of this post

Why hyperlocal has (mostly) flopped: From Patch to EveryBlock, many community-focused sites have struggled or collapsed entirely. What are they getting wrong? Outside of news, the hyperlocal strategy has worked for Yelp, Uber

Why hyperlocal has (mostly) flopped

By JP Mangalindan, Writer August 21, 2013: 12:17 PM ET

From Patch to EveryBlock, many community-focused sites have struggled or collapsed entirely. What are they getting wrong?

Many so-called “hyperlocal” sites have tried and failed. Why is the space so challenging? Credit: Jaclyn LoRaso/Fortune.com

FORTUNE — Ever heard of EveryBlock or Village Soup? What about Backfence? Each community-focused venture launched, then folded. Many more so-called hyperlocal sites have also tried and failed. Even AOL’s Patch news sites have had trouble sticking. Their struggles beg the question: Why is hyperlocal so hard? It shouldn’t be in theory, at least where news is concerned. The ongoing decline of small, local newspapers presents what seems like a significant opportunity for ventures like Patch. (Arguably, many local residents still want to stay informed on nearby goings-on.) And yet the company that AOL (AOL) CEO Tim Armstrong acquired for an estimated $7 million back in 2009 has since struggled to reach profitability. In 2011, Patch made $20 million in revenues; a former employee told Fortune that just 12 of the 863 Patch sites then were profitable. Fast-forward two years: Armstrong announced this month that 400 of Patch’s 900 sites would either be shuttered or partnered off, resulting in 500 employees losing their jobs. Ouch.

Read more of this post

Smartphone boom a ‘rose with thorns’

Smartphone boom a ‘rose with thorns’

Updated: 2013-08-21 16:12

( Xinhua)

JINAN — Cao Kai finds it hard to fall asleep, and his eyesight is worsening. Cao blames it on his smartphone, which the 28-year-old white-collar worker feels compelled tocheck for updates on microblogs and other social networking applications. His solution? Cao has made it a rule to turn off his phone’s 3G network at 10 pm in order to cuthimself off from the virtual world. Cao lives in Jinan, capital of Shandong province, where he said life after work pales incomparison to the bustling nightlife in big cities, like Beijing or Shanghai. His smartphone, loaded with a few social networking apps, promises fun and spices up anotherwise uneventful night. Cao is among many smartphone owners across the country who find themselves glued to thescreens of their iOS, Android or WP-based handsets. More than 77 million smartphones were sold in the second quarter of this year, accounting for85.3 percent of total mobile phone sales, according to a report released Wednesday byAnalysys International. Read more of this post

Shifting Tech Scene Unsettles Big Players; some of the technology industry’s biggest names are finding out that once you fall behind, it is pretty hard to catch up

August 21, 2013

Shifting Tech Scene Unsettles Big Players

By QUENTIN HARDY

Outsiders often think of Silicon Valley as a constantly changing landscape, a place where fortunes rise and fall with the next great idea. Now some of the technology industry’s biggest names are finding out that once you fall behind, it is pretty hard to catch up.

On Wednesday, Hewlett-Packard announced several significant personnel changes, along with sharply lower revenue and narrower operating profit margins. It was the latest in a string of disappointing earnings news from big technology companies that has some asking if the industry, after at least five years of growth, is finally slowing down. Read more of this post

The Most Gorgeous Apple iWatch Concept We’ve Seen Yet

The Most Gorgeous Apple iWatch Concept We’ve Seen Yet

STEVE KOVACH AUG. 21, 2013, 8:57 AM 58,873 48

It’s all but confirmed that Apple’s next big product category will be a wearable wrist computer. The press has dubbed the mythical gadget the iWatch. Don’t get too excited though. It’s very likely the iWatch won’t launch until later in 2014 at the very earliest. But that hasn’t kept some designers from churning out a bunch of concept designs. The latest design comes to us from Federico Ciccarese, a designer who has come up with some great Apple gadget mockups in the past. Check them out here. Meanwhile, Apple’s biggest rival Samsung is going to announce its own smartwatch on September 4. That gizmo will be called the Galaxy Gear and will pair with your Samsung phone. Here’s a look at some of Ciccarese’s designs:

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Tesla CEO Weighs Europe, Asia Plants for Mass-Market Car

Tesla CEO Weighs Europe, Asia Plants for Mass-Market Car

Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said the electric-car maker intends to add factories in Europe and Asia, anticipating volume gains from a planned mass-market battery car. The company this year plans to make at least 21,000 of its $70,000 Model S premium sedans at its Fremont, California, plant, and double that in 2014. While the factory has capacity to produce as many as 500,000 vehicles a year, the addition of a smaller electric car priced about half that of Model S will require additional plants, Musk said.

“We’ll try to locate those close to where people are, close to where the customers are, to minimize the logistics costs of getting the car to them,” the Tesla co-founder said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Betty Liu. “I think long term you can see Tesla establishing factories in Europe, in other parts of the U.S. and in Asia.” Read more of this post

Technology revolutions have a habit of devouring their own children. Tech executives facing up to hard realities of the cloud

August 21, 2013 7:34 pm

Tech executives facing up to hard realities of the cloud

By Richard Waters

Staying ahead of this storm front is challenging even industry giants

Technology revolutions have a habit of devouring their own children. There has never been a clearer case in point than the coming of the cloud, the great deflationary force of modern business computing. The centralised infrastructure of cloud computing threatens to turn the once high-value hardware and software components of IT systems into standardised commodities. Staying ahead of this wave is a challenge, even for the industry’s giants. Read more of this post

Devices Lead the Way to a Smarter TV

August 21, 2013

Devices Lead the Way to a Smarter TV

By BRIAN STELTER

Someday, our televisions will be smart. With a flick of the wrist or a voice command, couch potatoes will be able to binge-view “Scandal” or children will watch any episode of the Disney series “Dog With a Blog.” Maybe just thinking about Walter White will bring up “Breaking Bad” on the big screen. But for now, most television sets are dumb. They do a good enough job handling the signals coming through an antenna or a set-top box, but to take advantage of the wealth of programming available through online services and apps, you generally need to attach a streaming device to the TV. Read more of this post

Disney’s ESPN Holds Preliminary Talks for Web-Based TV

Disney’s ESPN Holds Preliminary Talks for Web-Based TV

Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s ESPN sports network has held preliminary talks to offer programming on a Web-based TV service like those proposed by Google Inc. (GOOG), Sony Corp. and Intel Corp. (INTC)

An Internet TV provider would have to pay as much or more than cable and satellite services, President John Skipper said today at ESPN’s campus in Bristol, Connecticut. He declined to specify the companies ESPN has spoken with. Read more of this post

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Moves to Lure Film Buffs Out of Their Living Rooms

August 21, 2013

TCM Moves to Lure Film Buffs Out of Their Living Rooms

By STUART ELLIOTT

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The Empire State Building, site of the climax of “King Kong” (1933), will be a stop on TCM’s movie-centric tour of New York.

THE Turner Classic Movies cable channel prides itself on running films that are, as it proclaims, “uncut and commercial-free.” But commercial-free does not mean free of commercial considerations, in the sense that TCM, like channels that accept ads and interrupt movies to show them, still has to make a buck. As a result, executives at TCM and its parent, the Turner Entertainment Networks division of Turner Broadcasting System, are increasing marketing efforts for the channel, which is available in more than 85 million American households. For instance, a redesign of TCM’s logo and graphics was introduced on Aug. 1 during the start of a monthlong programming block known as Summer Under the Stars. Read more of this post

Disney’s ABC TV Group to Lay Off About 175 People; “As technological advances continue to alter the competitive landscape and viewer habits, it’s incumbent upon us to stay ahead of the curve”

Updated August 21, 2013, 3:10 p.m. ET

Disney’s ABC TV Group to Lay Off About 175 People

Many of the Cuts Will Come From Operations Staff

KEACH HAGEY

Walt Disney Co. DIS -1.20% is planning to lay off about 175 people from its Disney/ABC Television Group, which includes the ABC network, local ABC stations and cable networks Disney Channel and ABC Family, according to a person familiar with the matter. Most of the cuts to Disney’s total staff of 7,600 will come from the company’s operations staff as well as the eight TV stations it owns, the person said. The stations, located primarily in major markets like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, saw a 7% decrease in advertising revenue in the second quarter, Disney Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo told analysts on a conference call earlier this month. Read more of this post

The buying power of Americans continues to be weaker than it was when the recession ended four years ago, underscoring the lasting damage wrought by the downturn

Recession’s pain reaching deep into the economic recovery

By Michael A. Fletcher,

The buying power of Americans continues to be weaker than it was when the recession ended four years ago, underscoring the lasting damage wrought by the downturn, according to a report released Wednesday.

Inflation-adjusted median household income has declined 4.4 percent, to $52,098, since June 2009, the official end of the recession, said the report by Sentier Research, an Annapolis data-analysis firm headed by two former Census Bureau officials. Read more of this post

NY property agents, brokers stripped of corporate titles; The use of corporate honorifics like “senior vice president” among brokers and agents without any actual corporate duties turns out to be illegal.

August 19, 2013

NY property agents, brokers stripped of corporate titles

By ELIZABETH A. HARRIS

Alex Dietrich, a real estate agent with Nest Seekers International, has recently found himself fielding an unwelcome question from some clients. “They ask, ‘Have you been demoted?’” said Mr. Dietrich, who was a vice president and managing director until earlier this year. “It is not ideal.” Mr. Dietrich has not been demoted, nor is he alone in his tumble from grace. Tens of thousands of real estate agents and brokers around New York were stripped of their corporate titles this year — senior vice president, managing director and the like — after the New York Department of State, which issues real estate licenses, said the use of corporate honorifics without any actual corporate duties was, in fact, illegal. Read more of this post

Mutual Funds Try Hard To Hide One Statistic: Maximum drawdowns or the worst-ever losing period for any given investment

Mutual Funds Try Hard To Hide One Statistic

MAMTA BADKAR AUG. 21, 2013, 5:51 PM 4,609

Mutual Fund Companies Are Keeping A Big Secret (Advisor Perspectives)

Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management shared a FINRA quiz on economic and investment basics with his readers and one of the questions many of them missed was on drawdowns. “Maximum (or max) drawdown refers to the worst-ever losing period for any given investment,” he writes. Mutual funds according to Halbert try hard to hide this statistic because “it doesn’t fit into their “relative return” view of the world.” “Mutual funds like to compare their performance to stock and bond market indexes. Think how often you hear commercials for mutual funds bragging that they beat this or that market index. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Read more of this post

Mom-and-Pop Investors Bolt Emerging Markets; Since Start of June, $18.1 Billion Pulled From Emerging-Market Bond Funds

Updated August 21, 2013, 7:30 p.m. ET

Mom-and-Pop Investors Bolt Emerging Markets

Since Start of June, $18.1 Billion Pulled From Emerging-Market Bond Funds

ERIN MCCARTHY

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Retail investors have led the summer stampede out of emerging-market stocks, bonds and currencies, pulling almost twice as much money as institutional investors such as insurance companies and pension funds. The action highlights the outsize impact mom-and-pop investors can have on global markets at a time of low interest rates, disappointing investment returns and volatile market reactions to perceived shifts in central-bank policy. Since the start of June, retail investors have pulled $18.1 billion from emerging-market bond funds, about one-third of the amount they had put in since the financial crisis, according to fund tracker EPFR Global. By comparison, institutional investors have pulled $9.3 billion, or about 10% of their postcrisis inflows. The same pattern can be seen in the stock market, where retail outflows continue even as institutional investors have largely stopped selling. Read more of this post

Long-term mutual funds fell $879 million in the latest week as investors pulled money from domestic stock funds and bonds; Equity mutual funds have recorded weekly gains for most of 2013, after investors had avoided them in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis

August 21, 2013, 8:50 p.m. ET

Long-Term Funds Drop

NATHALIE TADENA

Long-term mutual funds fell $879 million in the latest week as investors pulled money from domestic stock funds and bonds, according to the Investment Company Institute. Equity mutual funds have recorded weekly gains for most of 2013, after investors had avoided them in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Meanwhile, bond funds have recorded outflows in recent weeks amid a recent run-up in interest rates. For the week ended Aug. 14, equity funds had inflows of $1.49 billion, down from prior-week inflows of $3.41 billion. Domestic equity funds declined by $764 million, while foreign equity funds gained $2.26 billion. Read more of this post

Junk bonds and the rate cycle

August 21, 2013 10:16 pm

Junk bonds and the rate cycle

By James Mackintosh

Betting now offers much smaller margin of safety

So much for risk-free. Not only have US 10-year Treasury bonds lost almost 10 per cent since taper talk started in May, they have also been beaten by US investment grade corporate bonds (down 6 per cent) and by junk bonds (down 2.5). Look in more detail, and the inversion is even clearer: the higher the credit rating of a bond, the bigger the loss – with the lowest-rated junk only just losing money, according to Barclays’ indices. Read more of this post

Investors have yanked $30.3 billion from U.S.-listed bond mutual funds and exchange-traded funds this month, marking the third-largest monthly outflow in records going back to 1984

August 21, 2013, 5:24 p.m. ET

Investors Yank Money From Bond Funds

August Outflows Are Third-Largest Monthly Figures on Record

KATY BURNE

Investors have yanked $30.3 billion from U.S.-listed bond mutual funds and exchange-traded funds this month, marking the third-largest monthly outflow in records going back to 1984, according to estimates by TrimTabs Investment Research. The redemptions, which are through Aug. 19, come amid fears the Federal Reserve will begin winding down its bond-buying stimulus program as soon as September, the data company said, causing interest rates to rise following a postcrisis boom for bonds. When yields rise, the price of existing bonds falls, exposing investors to losses. Read more of this post

Hedge Funds Severely Underperforming This Year

Aug 21, 2013

Hedge Funds Severely Underperforming This Year

By Steven Russolillo, Reuters

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It’s been a great year for the stock market. It’s been a tough year for a hedge-fund manager. A typical hedge fund has risen 4%, on average, this year through Aug. 9, according to an analysis conducted by Goldman SachsGS -1.54%. That performance compares to a 20% total return (including dividends) for the S&P 500 over the same time frame, meaning the market has outperformed an average hedge fund by five times this year. Read more of this post

Financial Crisis-Era Derivatives Are Making A Comeback

Financial Crisis-Era Derivatives Are Making A Comeback

VERONIQUE DUPONT, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE AUG. 21, 2013, 8:16 AM 2,066 11

Collateralized debt obligations, the complex financial instruments that cratered disastrously in the financial crisis, are back.

The market for the instruments, which were based on subprime mortgages, shrank from $520 billion in 2006 to just $4.3 billion in 2009 after the housing bust. Warren Buffett once called CDOs “financial weapons of mass destruction” because of their riskiness. Read more of this post

Bad Trades’ Ripple Effect; Most of Goldman’s Erroneous Orders to Be Canceled; Counterparties Face a Hit

Updated August 21, 2013, 7:56 p.m. ET

Bad Trades’ Ripple Effect

Most of Goldman’s Erroneous Orders to Be Canceled; Counterparties Face a Hit

JACOB BUNGE, KAITLYN KIERNAN  and JUSTIN BAER

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Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS -1.54% won a preliminary victory to limit losses from a wave of erroneous trades that roiled U.S. options markets on Tuesday. After hours spent reviewing thousands of transactions, U.S. options-exchange officials on Wednesday decided to cancel most of the trades caused by a technical glitch in a Goldman trading system, people close to the matter said.

Read more of this post

National Geographic’s Michael Yamashita on the search for serendipitous moments

National Geographic’s Michael Yamashita on the search for serendipitous moments

SINGAPORE — Renowned National Geographic photographer Michael Yamashita was in Singapore over the weekend for the CapitaLand- National Geographic Channel ‘Building People’ Photography Exhibition, for which he was one of the judges. He presented a photography seminar on Friday (Aug 16) to a full-house at the Capital Tower auditorium, followed by a workshop with the winners of the competition.

BY ALEXANDRA DAWN WESTCOTT –

19 AUGUST

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SINGAPORE — Renowned National Geographic photographer Michael Yamashita was in Singapore over the weekend for the CapitaLand- National Geographic Channel ‘Building People’ Photography Exhibition, for which he was one of the judges. He presented a photography seminar on Friday (Aug 16) to a full-house at the Capital Tower auditorium, followed by a workshop with the winners of the competition. In an interview with TODAY, he shares about his career, his visual philosophy and his impressions of Singapore. Read more of this post

An important reason for Bangladesh’s remarkable progress in recent years has been investment in education of health and education, especially for women

Women and property rights

Who owns Bangladesh?

Aug 20th 2013, 17:11 by The Economist | DHAKA and DELHI

AN IMPORTANT reason for Bangladesh’s remarkable progress in recent years has been investment in education of health and education, especially for women. Pick any of the standard measures of development—maternal health, female literacy and life expectancy—and you find that Bangladesh is beating India.

It is young women who stitch garments worth $20 billion in exports, women who own Grameen Bank, an embattled but Nobel-winning micro-lender, and women who have ruled the country as prime ministers since 1991—longer than men have managed, which might make Bangladesh unique in the history of the world’s republics. Read more of this post

These drugs are the cash cows of big pharma

These drugs are the cash cows of big pharma

By David Yanofsky @YAN0 August 20, 2013

It is not uncommon for single drugs to account for a large share of a drug company’s business. Of the world’s 11 largest pharmaceutical companies in 2012, six had single drugs bring in more than 10% of total sales. Bayer was the only drug maker without a single treatment grossing more than 5% of total sales. Bayer’s business is also the most diverse of the lot. Where other top drug companies stick to pharmaceuticals and personal care, Bayer’s products encompass crop and materials science units. Ely Lilly was in US Federal Court yesterday (Aug. 19) to defend a patent on administering its lung-cancer therapy Alimta with certain vitamins to temper the prescription’s side effects. A victory for Lilly in the lawsuit could put off competition from generic drug makers until 2022, who would need to imitate the vitamin regimen to gain approval from regulators. (The chemistry of Alimta itself is covered by a different Ely Lilly patent which expires in 2017.) Patenting the way a drug is taken is taken is an unusual move, and a sign of how far drug companies will go to prolong their patents, though most analysts doubt it will succeed. Alimta purchases made up 11.5% of Ely Lilly’s net sales last year, making it the most important drug to the company after Cymbalta, an antidepressant, which accounts for 22.1%. Cymbalta’s patent expires in December. Cymbalta has the second largest portion of sales from any of the top 11 companies. The largest is Abbott Laboratories’ Humira, a rheumatoid arthritis treatment, which makes up 23.2% of Abbott’s sales. Humira’s $9.3 billion in sales last year exceeded those of any other drug on the market.

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Bond Trading Hampered as Buyers Retreat to Crowded Exits

Bond Trading Hampered as Buyers Retreat to Crowded Exits

The lowest volumes for U.S. corporate-bond trading since 2008 are underscoring the potential for market disruptions as regulations prompt dealers to retreat.

August trading volumes have plummeted to a daily average of $14.1 billion, down 9 percent from the corresponding period last year, even as the amount of company debt outstanding has soared by 12 percent. Bonds have lost 5 percent since the end of April on the Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. Corporate Index, the worst stretch since the credit crisis as the Federal Reserve considers curtailing its record stimulus. Read more of this post

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