BusinessWise March 27: Oil Prices Steady

The price of oil remained above $100 a barrel Thursday as traders held positions after a surge the day before despite a larger-than-expected increase in oil supplies.

Benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery was up 1 cent to $100.27 at 0750 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It jumped $1.07 the day before.

Brent crude, a contract for international varieties of oil, fell 15 cents to $106.89 on the ICE exchange in London.

A report by the U.S. Energy Department showed crude oil supplies rose more than twice the gain expected by analysts, to 6.3 million barrels, according to Platts.

But that increase was offset by declines in gasoline supplies and supplies at the oil hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, where benchmark U.S. oil is priced,

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline was down 0.2 cent at $2.904 a gallon.

— Heating oil was steady at $2.919 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 2.2 cents to $4.38 per 1,000 cubic feet.

BusinessWise March 26: Asian Markets Up, Oil rises 41 Cents

Asian stocks gained today as investors anticipated further stimulus measures from Europe and China while US economic data reinforced recovery hopes in the world’s largest economy.

Japan’s Nikkei 225, the regional heavyweight index, inched out a 0.2 percent gain to end Tokyo’s morning trading session at 14,456.00. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 1.1 percent to 21,964.23 and South Korea’s Kospi rose 1 percent to 1,961.04. Australia’s S&P ASX/200 added 1 percent to 5,387.20.

Stocks in Southeast Asia also advanced. China’s Shanghai Composite was flat at 2,067.48.

Investors welcomed European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s speech on Tuesday in Paris that monetary policy should support the economies of countries that use the euro.

More investors are banking that China’s leaders will introduce pro-growth measures to prop up a slowing economy. A preliminary reading of China’s manufacturing, released Monday, showed activity at an 8- month low in March.

Reports showing strength in the US economy also underpinned investor sentiment. The Conference Board in the US said its measure of consumer confidence rose last month to its highest since January 2008. Another release showed US home prices edged down in January for a third month, but at a high level compared with a year earlier.

In Toronto, the S&P TSX Composite index rose almost 1 and a half percent, up 20.94 points to 14,299.49.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 0.4 percent to 1,865.62. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.6 percent to 16,367.88 while the Nasdaq composite edged up 0.2 percent to 4,234.27.

In energy markets, benchmark US oil for May delivery was up 17 cents at US $99.36 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 41 cents to settle at $99.19 on Tuesday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3815 from $1.3823 late Tuesday. The dollar gained to 102.30 yen from 102.26 yen.


Computer Insider March 21: A look a super-thin tablets

If you’re looking for one of those small, sleek and thin tablets, and money is not a big issue for you, then we have quite a collection for you today.

We back in the beginning of tablets that would be the 1969 movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.”, you would have had to start training with power lifter, former actor and California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, just to have the muscle power to hall the device around with you. However, we’re happy to report that the times have changed and so have tablet designs.

After Apple released the iPad, aesthetics and design became a more prominent selling-point for the emerging portable devices. Overall, tablet girth has declined, ushering in the new era of thin slates, and we’ve gathered the ones so sleek, their predecessors wouldn’t even recognize them if they saw them walking down the street.

Let’s start with the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX. It continues to impress in its approach to tablets with its latest 7-incher. The Kindle Fire HDX rocks a supersharp screen and smooth performance, all in a small and light package. Its angular design is comfy and compact to hold or carry, and it stylishly stands out in the saturated pack of 7-inch tablets. For Amazon Prime members, the Kindle Fire tablets are a no-brainer, but if you’re hesitant about the restricted Android-based OS and lack of Google Play store, have a look at the Google Nexus 7.

Google set a precedent with the original Nexus 7, offering a pure Android tablet with zippy performance at an affordable price, and the second iteration of the Nexus 7 continues in that fashion. It has few bells and whistles, yet its simplicity suits it and matches its minimal comfortable and lightweight design. It’s as light as the Kindle Fire HDX and only beats the Amazon slate in depth by a small margin.

The invention of the iPad, helped steer tablets into the mainstream and the iPad Mini model replicates the successful, sleek aluminum slate but in a more portable form. It’s the smallest iPad available and rocks one of the most high-end designs, and if you’re already wrapped into Apple’s robust ecosystem, choosing an iPad is an easy decision.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 is an 8-inch slate that edges out the competition by packing a bigger, more impressive display in a comparably slim and trim profile. Though not as small as the 7-inchers that we have already mentioned, the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 is worth the extra space — and cash, if you got it. The 8.4-inch tablet stuns with its high-pixel-resolution screen, and it currently holds the title of tablet with the highest pixels-per-inch at 359ppi. It performs smoothly, comes with a ton of preloaded Samsung software, and if you fancy a high-end small tablet that runs Android, this is your best choice.

BusinessWise March 21: Asian stock markets recover, Conference Board index up

Asian stock markets bounced back Friday as upbeat U.S. economic data helped shake off worries about future increases in U.S. interest rates.

Trading was subdued as Japanese markets were closed for a public holiday.

The Conference Board index of leading indicators, a measure of U.S. economic health, rose in February by the largest amount in three months, suggesting growth should bounce back following a harsh winter. Separately, U.S. jobless benefits rose to near pre-recession levels, suggesting stable job market in the world’s largest economy.

The numbers helped to perk up stocks after Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen unsettled investors by suggesting earlier this week that U.S. interest rates could rise sooner than markets were anticipating.

South Korea’s Kospi dropped, then climbed to 1,931.22 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.6 percent to 21,313.32. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.8 percent to 5,338.10.

In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index advanced 1.8 percent to 2,029.76 even as China’s currency remained weak. The you-ann was trading at 6.2238, the lowest in about 13 months.

A recent loosening of exchange rate controls has helped speed the currency’s decline. Analysts believe authorities are trying to clamp down on unrealistic credit growth and discourage speculators, as for the past several years the Yuan has slowly appreciated in value.

In Toronto, the TSX closed up 27.29 points at 14,361; on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.7 percent to 16,331.05 on Thursday and the Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 0.6 percent to 1,872.01. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.3 percent to 4,319.29.

In currencies, the euro rose slightly to $1.3785 from $1.3779 in late trading Thursday. The dollar dipped to 102.36 Japanese yen from 102.39.

Oil prices fell. Benchmark crude oil for May delivery was down 59 cents to $98.31 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 27 cents to settle at $98.90 on Thursday.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was down 31 cents to $106.14 a barrel.

In other energy futures trading in New York:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.7 cent to $2.882 a gallon.

— Heating oil shed 0.7 cent to $2.906 a gallon.

— Natural gas dropped 3.6 cents to $4.333 per 1,000 cubic feet.


Computer Insider for March 20, 2014: Online Shopping vs Bedroom FUn

A survey suggests that many of us are beginning to use online shopping as an expression of not being, you know, side stepping our matrimonial responsibilities in the bedroom, and the surprise here… men use the excuse more than women.

Despite the best efforts of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who insisted that the government had not place in the bedroom, it seems that your smartphone may.

New research suggests that the latest “Not tonight honey, I have a headache”, is to say they’re busy online shopping.

The new study sponsored by EBates looked at 1,000 adults with some fascinating conclusions.

Some 10 percent of women say they use their mobile devices — and the excuse of shopping on them — to deter their lovers from getting amorous.

But here’s the nugget that might astound even more: 13 percent of men admitted to doing the same thing.

Personally, I’m not sure how I would feel telling a partner that I wasn’t feeling “frisky” because I was trying to decide which pair of wireless headphone to buy.

The original purpose of this survey was merely to examine mobile shopping habits. It seems that 45 percent of Americans use their mobile devices to shop — and 10 percent claim they do it daily.

49 percent of the respondents confessed that shopping on their mobile device cures boredom while they’re waiting in line. And 24 percent somehow couple mobile shopping with watching reality TV.

The conclusions? Clearly the difference between sex and online shopping is that it’s much harder to haggle while online shopping.


BusinessWise March 20, 2014

Asian stocks fell this morning after comments from the new head of the Federal Reserve suggested U.S. interest rates could rise sooner than financial markets were anticipating.

Janet Yellen’s comments after the Fed’s first policy meeting since she replaced Ben Bernanke sent Wall Street lower and the American dollar higher on Wednesday.

The Nikkei 225, the benchmark for the Tokyo stock market, fell 1.7 percent to 14,224.23 and South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.9 percent to 1,919.52.

Local analysts speculated that higher U.S. interest rates were expected to come eventually, but there was “a surprise element” when Yellen implied that the Fed’s time frame for raising interest rates was closer to the first half of 2015, sooner than many had expected. The Fed also voted to cut its monthly bond purchases from $65 billion to $55 billion as part of its ongoing winding down of the extraordinary monetary stimulus.

The US dollar had its biggest one-day gain yesterday since August because of the higher interest rate talk.

The next market-moving factor players are watching in Japan is a consumption tax hike effective April 1. Opinion is divided on whether some stocks will drop as a result of the tax, while others may rise. Many believe the effects will be small.

The TSX closed down almost 35 points at 14,334; The Dow Jones industrial average lost 114.02 points, to close at 16,222. The Dow fell as much as 209 points before erasing some of its loss. The Standard & Poor’s 500 dropped 11 points, to 1,860 and the Nasdaq composite lost 25.71 points, to 4,307.60.

Benchmark crude for April delivery was up 13 cents at $100.50 a barrel at in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 67 cents to $100.37 on Wednesday. Most trading has shifted to the May contract as the April contract expired today. Oil for May delivery was up 20 cents to $99.37 a barrel.

The euro rose to $1.3841 from $1.3825 late Wednesday. The dollar fell to 102.30 yen from 102.46 yen.

Computer Insider March 19: New USB Wireless Technology

Just when you thought that technology was stabilizing of the desktop front, along comes an idea whose time may be just right. There are two factors pushing this concept, the first being the wide use of smartphones, and the second is the increasing use of computers as the primary device in your home theater, rapidly displacing cable TV boxes and DVD players.

The new technology is in fact a shift in the USB sector, as the standards body behind that sector is launching media Agnostic USB (MA-USB). It uses the USB protocol, which governs how devices connect and transfer data, but runs it atop a range of wireless communication technologies and radio frequencies.

This is an upgraded approach from a 2007 wireless version that used ultra wideband only — and that technology never caught on widely. In contrast, this broader wireless approach should help the new version.


It’s designed to connect things like external hard drives, phones, tablets, cameras, and PCs. As long as a device supports Wi-Fi, MA-USB should work as long as the operating system is updated with a driver. That means that although your phone doesn’t support it today, it could in the future with a software update, since no new hardware is required.

Don’t expect to throw away all your Universal Serial Bus cables, though. The standards group is working on a USB power delivery technology that could let people charge their phones and tablets faster and possibly even get rid of laptop power cables, too.

And the USB-IF is working to sweep away USB cable confusion with a single cable that will work for mobile and larger devices. You’ll be able to plug it into the jack either side up, unlike current USB cables, and will be reversible end-to-end, too, so you don’t need to worry about matching ports at both sides.


BusinessWise March 19: Price of Oil Down Slightly

The price of oil was down slightly Wednesday as energy markets waited for the latest figures on U.S. crude and fuel stockpiles.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was down 20 cents at $99.50 a barrel in overnight electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.62 to $99.70 on Tuesday after strong U.S. factory data and an apparent easing in tensions over Ukraine.

Thursday is the last day of trading for the April contract.

Investors are awaiting fresh information on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined products, which give a weekly indication about the strength of demand in the world’s biggest economy.

Statistics for the week ended March 14 are expected to show a rise of 2.6 million barrels in crude oil stocks and a decline of 1.6 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, fell 2 cents to $106.77 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.5 cent to $2.89 a gallon.

— Heating oil gained 0.4 cent to $2.901 a gallon.

— Natural gas shed 0.7 cent to $4.449 per 1,000 cubic feet.



Business Report for March 18, 2014

The price of oil edged up today as strong U.S. factory output boosted the outlook for the world’s biggest economy.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was up 15 cents to $98.23 a barrel in overnight electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 81 cents to $98.08 on Monday. Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, gained 46 cents to $106.70 on the ICE exchange in London.

Data from the US Federal Reserve showed that U.S. factory output in February rose at its fastest clip in six months after disruptions from severe winter weather.

Oil prices were also impacted by the narrow scope of U.S and European Union sanctions against Russia for its intervention in Crimea.

The initial penalties, freezing the assets of Russian and Ukrainian officials linked to the unrest in Crimea or who support the region’s vote to secede from Ukraine, were accompanied by the warnings from President Barack Obama that more will follow if Russia does not stop interfering in Ukraine.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline inched up 0.8 cent to $2.881 a gallon.

— Heating oil gained 1.2 cents to $2.891 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 3.1 cents to $4.505 per 1,000 cubic feet.



Computer Insider March 18, 2014: Hackers Capitalize on Missing Boeing 777

The ongoing saga of the missing Malaysian Flight MH370 is proving to be quite the boom to the hacker community as those who strive to pollute the computers of the innocent have started building malware into various messages that claim to be offering videos, information and other tidbits of information on  the still missing Boeing 777 and its hundreds of passengers.

The big message here is don’t click on any link that says it has shocking video of plane.

Videos with titles like “Malaysian Airlines missing flight MH370 found in Sea — 50 people alive saved” have spread through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Malware intelligence reports that that links being spread through Twitter originally appeared on Facebook.

The blog warned of a fake news link claiming that the Malaysian plane has been found in the Bermuda Triangle. The photos used to promote the video are from an April 2013 Lion Air plane crash near Bali.

Facebook users lured by shocking videos typically find that they must complete a survey before continuing. Christensen says the links are designed to look like a Facebook survey, requesting permission to gain access to your profile.

Giving permission to your profile could give hackers personal information, like phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Scam artists seek a payday from affiliate marketing schemes that pay money when a user participates in a survey.