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JCPenney to sell 84 million shares of stock

JCPenney said it will sell 84 million shares of stock in a secondary offering.

Shares fell 5 percent following the news. (What’s the stock doing now? Click here for the latest after-hours quote.)

The retailer said it would use the proceeds for general corporate purposes.

Penney shares fell 15 percent on Wednesday after Goldman Sachs said it expects the retailer’s sales to improve more slowly than expected. The stock rebounded slightly Thursday.

The cost for insurance against a J.C. Penney default has shot back to near record-high levels over the last week.

The company, which has a “CCC ” credit rating from Standard & Poor’s, reflecting a substantial risk in owning its debt, has about $2.6 billion of outstanding bonds.  The company’s benchmark 5-year credit default swap contract price surged by more than 13 percent on Wednesday, according to Markit data.  Read More

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BlackBerry reports large second quarter loss

Struggling smartphone maker BlackBerry reported a major net second quarter loss Friday and said is is burning cash at a higher rate as it moves to execute a tentative deal that could take the company private.

Revenue for the quarter ended Aug. 31 was $1.6 billion, with a net loss of $965 million, or $1.84 a share. That compares with revenue of $2.9 billion and a loss of $229 million, or 44 cents a share, for the same quarter last year.

Adjusted net loss from continuing operations was $248 million, or 47 cents per share. The per-share loss was on the low side of the 47 cent-to-51-cent range that BlackBerry warned of last week, when it announced preliminary results and plans to lay off 4,500 employees. Wall Street analysts had expected a loss of 49 cents a share.  Read More

Markets Eager for Something – Anything – New from Fed

Federal Reserve, FOMC, Ben Bernanke, Fed chief, monetary policy, beige books

So much anticipation for a Federal Reserve Board statement not likely to be markedly different from any so far released in 2013.

The Federal Open Markets Committee, which sets most Fed monetary policy, is meeting Tuesday and Wednesday and will release a statement on their most recent forecasts and potential policy shifts early tomorrow afternoon, followed by a press conference with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. (Most analysts agree the real news will likely come during Bernanke’s Q&A with reporters.)

This is pretty much the FOMC’s monthly routine.

As has also been their monthly routine for the past six months or so, Bernanke and his colleagues will undoubtedly acknowledge some recent economic stumbling blocks – namely a leveling off of manufacturing activity in the first half of 2013 and the stubbornly high 7.5% unemployment rate.

In the same statement, however, the FOMC is widely expected to reaffirm its commitment to tapering its easy money stimulus programs, possibly as soon as September, depending on the broad trajectory of economic data between now and then.

Three rounds of bond buying programs, or quantitative easing, since the recent financial crisis have expanded the Fed’s balance sheet to more than $3.1 trillion in assets from less than $1 trillion in mid-2008, a concern to those who wonder what the impact will be when the Fed begins to unwind those assets.

The only difference between tomorrow’s message and those of the past six months is that we’re now getting closer to an actual announcement by the Fed that it will start gradually scaling back its $85 billion a month in bond purchases. That proximity seems to heighten investor anxiety.

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Google reveals number of National Security Letters sent in last 4 years

Google has revealed the number of National Security Letters (NSL) that it has received in the last four years alone. The numbers are a general estimate of NSLs sent to Google by the government. The FBI sends NSLs to various entities, including businesses, internet service providers, credit card companies, and more. They demand that those entities deliver confidential information about their customers such as phone numbers, e-mail addresses, purchase history, web history, and more. Anything is fair game as long as it pertains to the FBI’s investigation.

Google received up to 4000 NSLs for over 9000 users accounts

Google has received 0-999 NSLs each year for the past 4 years from the FBI. Google isn’t allowed to release the exact amount legally because the numbers may interfere with the FBI’s investigations, but it is able to provide a range. In 2009, the FBI asked Google to deliver confidential information from over 1000-1999 of its users. In 2010, it was asked to deliver info on 2000-2999 users, and in 2011 and 2012, it was asked to deliver info on 1000-1999 users each year.

National Security Letters can be issued by the FBI even without a court order, which makes them powerful and abusive. The Electronic Frontier Foundation stated, “Of all the dangerous government surveillance powers that were expanded by the USA Patriot Act, the National Security Letter… is one of the most frightening and invasive.” Many people have voiced their concerns over the NSLs and their extensive use.  Read More

Google Has Planted A Secret Surprise In Its High-End Chromebook

chromebook pixel google

An “Easter egg” is a hidden message or joke that software developers sneak into their projects.

Google has hidden one in its new, high-end Chromebook laptop, the Pixel. One of Google’s developer’s spilled the beans about it to reviewers at Wired.

Open the Chromebook and tap out this code using Pixel’s directional keys: up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right, then B, then A. That combination is actually a “famous” Easter Egg key called the called the “Konami Code.” It comes from old-school video games, and was often used to hide extra, secret features in the game. Read More

Social Media Revs To Reach Nearly $17 Billion

Advertising will contribute $9 billion to social media global revenue of nearly $17 billion this year, up from $12 billion in 2011, estimates Gartner. The approximate 43% uptick supports stronger social signals that find their way into search, mobile and premium display ads.

Neha Gupta, senior research analyst at Gartner, estimates more than 1 billion people worldwide will use social networks in 2012, but not just for social streams on sites like Facebook and Google+. Gaming revenue from social media more than doubled between 2010 and 2011 and is expected to reach $6.2 billion in 2012.

Revenue from subscriptions is predicted to reach $278 million this year. The sale of virtual goods will remain the primary source of revenue.

Some social developers, such as Zynga, GREE and DeNA, have moved to an open-platform strategy to support user convenience and choice. Along with the developers move, marketers are allocating a higher percentage of their advertising budget to social networking sites. Not just traditional social sites like Facebook, but video services.

Gupta estimates ecommerce on social media sites will evolve into payment platform for transactions of digital content to pay for applications and social gaming or to make a person-to-person payment to another user in the network site. These new revenue opportunities will augment mobile and TV platforms that integrate with social networks as a core service.  Read More

 

Facebook Users Share and ‘Like’ Too Much, Report Says

Facebook has nearly 1 billion users, but a good chunk of them are clueless when it comes to using the social network safely, a new study conducted by Consumer Reports has found.

Consumer Reports projected its findings after questioning Facebook, security experts, privacy lawyers, app developers, and victims of security and privacy abuse as well as surveying 2,002 online households, including 1,340 that use Facebook.

The findings are pretty telling.

Oversharing is common. A projected 4.8 million Facebook users have publicly indicated where they planned to go on a certain day even though doing so could tip-off thieves, stalkers or others with nefarious intent. Another 4.7 million “liked” a Facebook page about health conditions or treatments, in spite of the fact that insurers could used that data against them.

Millions don’t use privacy controls. Nearly 13 million users have never set or don’t know about the social network’s privacy tools. And more than a quarter of users have shared their wall posts with an audience broader than their friends.

Data is a premium to Facebook. “It is very likely that no government or corporation has ever managed to gather such a huge amount of personal and often highly sensitive data,” said Max Schrems, an Austrian law student who retrieved 1,222 pages worth of his personal information last year from Facebook. Among them he found wall posts, messages, email addresses and friend names that he had previously deleted from his account.

Third parties can see your data. Many Facebook apps garner data about users’ friends. That means even if you don’t use a particular app it could have access to your data just by way of one of your friends who is using it.  Read More

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