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 Hoax-Slayer.com 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.

 

Computer Insider March 17, 2014: Want to buy a Boeing 777?

One thing you can always count on in this technology based era, is that some nut ball is going to step forward and try and turn a buck out of anything, and so it is today as someone has taken the bold step of posting an ad on Craigslist for an airplane, and not just any airplane, but the still missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370, a Boeing 777 airliner which has been missing for some time now.

The ad, which was posted on the Vietnam Craigslist for $15 million, says that the plane is for sale “as is, where is”, apparently is low on fuel, but does include all the snacks and nibbles still on board. There are a few anomalies with the ad: First of all, it posts a second price in the local currency of 1.5 million Dong, which converts to about $70, so either there’s not much call for a personal 777 in rural Vietnam, or the poster didn’t do too well at math.

The really sad part about this that there is probably somebody somewhere who is seriously considering buying the plane, although there is no contact information listed, so actually making a deal could prove to be somewhat awkward.

Anyway, got to run now, I just have to reply to a message I received from an ex Crimean official who wants me to hole 2-hundred million dollars for him as soon as I pay the wire setup costs to $30,000.

 

 

Business Report March 17, 2014

Oil prices were slightly lower Monday after Crimea’s vote to split from Ukraine and join Russia.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was down 9 cents to $98.80 a barrel in overnight electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 69 cents to close at $98.89 on Friday.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was down 21 cents to $108 on the ICE exchange in London.

Residents in Crimea voted Sunday overwhelmingly in favor of the split in a referendum that the United States, European Union and others say violates the Ukrainian constitution and international law.

The U.S. and its allies in Europe are expected to announce sanctions against Russia, including visa bans and potential asset freezes, on Monday. Russia is a major oil and gas producer.

The tensions that are helping boost prices are being countered in recent weeks by worries about slowing demand from China, one of the world’s top energy consumers.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.5 cent to $2.945 a gallon.

— Heating oil dropped 1.1 cent to $2.918 a gallon.

— Natural gas added 8.6 cents to $4.515 per 1,000 cubic feet.

 

Computer Insider March 14/14: New App Targets Israeli Business

It this day and age of an app for everything, you have to really wonder where some people are coming from.

A fringe group, known as the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, also known as BDS, is coming out with a “boycott Israel” smartphone app.

This is the same group that went after actress Scarlett Johansson for being a spokesperson for the Israeli company SodaStream, and is now expanding it’s horizons.

The BDS app is reportedly designed to let people carry out boycotts against Israel, and is just entering the beta testing phase.

It will ship with a barcode scanner, allowing users to scan products with their smartphones to see if the manufacturer has ties to Israel. The idea is to give potential boycotters all of the information they need on specific companies before buying a product. The data about the companies has been compiled by BDS, whose mission is to further Palestine rights.

The group recently made news when it pressured Johansson to step down from her post as Oxfam global ambassador after she became SodaStream’s official spokesperson. SodaStream was targeted by pro-Palestinian activists for opening a factory in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank

While several prominent people and organizations — such as Stephen Hawking and the American Studies Association — have recently spoke in favor of Israel boycotts, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the boycotts anti-Semitic.

I personally have an issue with any organization steps forward with anything that promotes hatred and un rest, but I have to admit that I find the app concept quite titillating because it offers ordinary people chance to voice their opinion on a variety of topics. Just think of how popular it would be if you could protest political issues like legalizing marijuana, the price of gas, where Mayor Rod Ford picks up his party supplies, and have the app co-ordinate the key players on the topic and send each of them a personal comment note.

Who knows, maybe if we had a tool like this in the 70’s, we could have convinced Trick Dick to get out of Nam that much sooner.

Business Report March 14: Oil prices edged slightly higher

Oil prices edged slightly higher this morning but remained under $100 a barrel as traders weighed whether an apparent pickup in the U.S. economy could spur enough demand to offset a slowdown in China and tension in the Ukraine.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was up 2 cents to $98.22 a barrel in overnight electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 21 cents to close at $98.20 on Thursday.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was up 5 cents to $106.97 on the ICE exchange in London.

Global markets from stocks to commodities have been roiled this week by signs of weakness in the Chinese economy and tensions in Ukraine.

China is one of the top consumers of energy, so an economic slowdown there could dial back demand for oil. At the same time, Russia is one of the top producers of oil worldwide, meaning that any Western sanctions against Moscow for its military incursion into the Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula could affect global supplies.

Still, recent good news about the U.S. economy helped underpin prices on Friday. American retail sales bounced back in February after suffering a steep decline during a bitterly cold January. Shoppers spent more on autos, clothing and furniture. And the number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest level in three months.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline shed 0.2 cent to $2.906 a gallon.

— Heating oil was up 0.7 cent to $2.911 a gallon.

— Natural gas lost 3.1 cents to $4.352 per 1,000 cubic feet

Computer Insider: Too Much Disk Space?

I thought with spring just around the corner, this would be the ideal time to sit back and do a little bit of basic computer maintenance. One of the major down strokes we have with all of cheap hard disk space we have available to us, is that we never really have to worry about being too careful about what were storing because, for the sake of just running down the local store and spending about $100, you can pick up a terabyte or two of additional storage and suddenly you have huge amounts of onboard space available. The sad tale of my story is that I went to install a new application on my computer, and found out that I had no more space available on my boot drive. I never really worried about how much space I had on the drive, because I never store any data on my primary drive, and always store it on secondary or external drives. The reason I do this is because of anything should happen to my boot drive all of my data will be safe and secure. At any rate, what I found in checking my drive was that I had installed multiple versions of various audio and video editing packages and never bothered to delete them. After about five hours of diligent, uninstalling, I found myself back in business with about half my drive available for whatever apps I wanted to install.

Radio Business Report March 14, 2014

The price of oil rose above $98 per barrel today after plunging Wedensday on concern China’s economic slowdown is deepening.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was up 11 cents to $98.19 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. A day earlier, the contract fell $2.04 to close at $97.99, its first close below $100 in a month.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was down 2 cents to $107.33 on the ICE exchange in London.

A decline in Chinese exports in February has fueled worries the world’s second-largest economy is weakening further. Growth in factory output, investment and retail sales, reported Thursday, was unusually weak.

Oil prices had been falling after spiking last week on fears Russia’s military incursion into the Crimean Peninsula might lead to U.S. and European sanctions on one of the world’s largest energy suppliers.

Providing some support to prices, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which accounts for around a third of the world’s oil production, raised slightly its forecast for global crude demand in 2014.

In its monthly oil market report released Wednesday, OPEC estimated the world will consume 91.1 million barrels a day this year, 1.14 million barrels more than in 2013 and 50,000 barrels above the group’s previous forecast released in February.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline shed 0.3 cent to $2.952 a gallon.

— Heating oil declined 0.5 cent to $2.921 a gallon.

— Natural gas lost 2.7 cents to $4.463 per 1,000 cubic feet.