JP Pritchard

Business Watch – Friday March 16,2012

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Photo: Getty Images

Brent Clanton

-United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk-
States Trade Representative Ron Kirk is in Houston Friday to highlight the U.S. Korean trade agreement taking effect today. Ambassador Kirk will tour the Port of Houston aboard the ship Sam Houston.

-It’s Apple iPad Day-
“i-Fans” eagerly awaited the release of the iPad Three at 8:00 A.M. Around midnight, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was outside the company store in Culver City, California waiting to buy his own new iPad. Tweeting about being first in line, Wozniak was asked why he wasn’t getting a freebie: “I would not turn down one for free, but I would never ask for one,” he confided. “It’s just not something I like to do. I don’t like to get that kind of privilege,” said Wozniak. In fact, waiting in line “with the masses” is the kind of thing Wozniak DOES like to do and, he needed a new iPad.
One woman, standing third-in line, was offered $1,000 for her place in-line by tourists from Europe, wanting to buy a new iPad.

A new wave of fraud spreading across the country. Identity thieves are taking a scam that we have seen at ATMs to new places. Thieves are now stealing all your credit card information by installing tiny skimming devices that capture your credit card information at gas stations nationwide. Hugh Dunleavy at the Secret Service explains, “the gas pumps themselves aren’t monitored as closely as point of sale terminals that are normally located in stores. So the skimmers offer a bit of anonymity.”To keep this from happening to you, you can literally tug on the card reader because fake one often fall off or you can pay inside or pay cash,” Dunleavy added.

-Scallop Switch-
Fish inspectors say higher-grade dry scallops from the sea are being switched out for lower grade, “wet scallops”, which are treated with a chemical, to make them take on extra weight, making the product more expensive. U.S. fish inspector Steve Wilson says, “If you’re selling a product that’s ten dollars a pound, but only five pounds of the ten pounds is actual product, and the rest is water.” To get what you pay for, watch out for scallops that carry a bleached out look, fall apart easily or have a mushy texture. “Ten dollars a pound for water is a lot of money,” says Wilson.

-Former Enron Executive Jeff Skilling-
Former Enron executive Jeff Skilling has a new distraction in Colorado’s Englewood Federal Prison. It will be disgraced former-Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich. The former governor begins his second day Friday in prison, as he serves a 14-year sentence. Another former political luminary, Jack Abramoff, offered this perspective: “Blago” will be the celebrity of the prison, and Skilling is probably happy that he is arriving, because, being the celebrity in prison, take it from me, is not fun.”

-The Labor Department-
The Labor Department said first-time jobless claims fell last week to the lowest level in four years while the modest increase in the producer price index (PPI) arrived right in line with expectations. Manufacturing data from the Fed outposts in both New York and Philadelphia also exceeded economists’ expectations.

-Wall Street and the S&P-
Against this backdrop, the S&P 500 broke above the 1,400 level for the first time since 2008 adding six tenths percent to close at 1,402.
The Dow rose four tenths percent to 13,252.
The Nasdaq Composite gained a half-percent at 3,056.
Crude oil slipped 32 cents to $105.11 per barrel.
A fizzling rally for the dollar added $16.60 to the price of gold to close at $1,659.50 an ounce.

And finally, I wil be looking forward to meeting you Saturday at the Fiesta Store at HWY 249 at FM 1960 West from Noon-2pm. News 92 FM will be folks for a pair of handmade alligator boots from Maida Custom Boots! Come out for a great time!

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