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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Apple reports rare fall in profits

Category : World News

Computer and smartphone maker Apple reports its first quarterly drop in profits in a decade, despite strong sales in the three months to March.

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FTSE 100 falls despite mining shares recovery, with Arm down on sell note

Category : Business

Commodity companies lead risers but chip designer hit by downbeat comments ahead of quarterly results

Despite a recovery in the mining sector, leading shares are heading lower again.

With gold stablising after its recent declines – which were based on worries about countries such as Cyprus selling some of their reserves along with signs of slowdown in China – and base metals such as copper recovering, mining shares regained some lost ground.

Fresnillo is up 45p at £11.25, Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation has climbed 9.1p to 247.2p and Xstrata has added 37.2p to 1003.5p.

All ten of the top ten risers in the leading index are commodity companies, as are the top ten in the FTSE 250.

But investors are still cautious, not least following Wall Street’s fall overnight in the wake of the Boston marathon explosions. So the FTSE 100 is down 41.20 points at 6302.40, with little impact from UK inflation figures in line with forecasts.

Ahead of results next week, Arm is among the biggest fallers in the leading index. The chip designer is down 27p at 869.5p as Liberum Capital issued a sell note. Analyst Janardan Menon said:

We expect Arm’s US dollar revenues to be broadly in line with guidance ($250m) and consensus estimates, while sterling revenues are expected to benefit from weakness in the currency. Arm had sequentially guided down its first quarter 2013 revenues, following strength in the fourth quarter of 2012. Going forward we expect year on year revenue growth rates to gradually decelerate as smartphone growth moderates. We also remain concerned about potential gains in smartphone and tablet share by Intel and maintain our sell recommendation on the stock.

In more detail, Menon added:

Our sell recommendation on Arm is based on three factors. 1) an expectation of Intel gaining share in Arm’s key royalty markets – smartphones and tablets. 2) slowing growth rates in the smartphone and tablet markets which are expected to depress Arm’s royalty growth 3) The high multiples the stock is trading at relative to its longer term growth outlook. While we do not expect these concerns to be specifically flagged in the first quarter results, we do expect newsflow in coming quarters to do so.

Elsewhere Associated British Foods has fallen 40p to £18.24 after Credit Suisse cut its recommendation from outperform to neutral.

Burberry is down 33p at £12.51 following disappointing results from luxury goods giant LVMH.

HTC profit slump confirms Samsung and Apple as smartphone leaders – The Guardian

Category : Stocks

The Guardian
HTC profit slump confirms Samsung and Apple as smartphone leaders
The Guardian
The divergent fortunes within the $200bn (£130bn) global smartphone market were laid bare this week when Taiwan's HTC reported a 98% slump in profits, confirming Samsung and Apple's seemingly unassailable lead over their rivals. In 2010, HTC was the
Smartphone innovation: Where we're going next (Smartphones Unlocked)CNET
Taiwan's HTC: not so brilliant, but management is resilientFinancial Times (blog)
New HTC smartphone already getting good

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OFT to look into smartphone games with costly in-app add-ons

Category : Business

Reports of children running up bills for hundreds of pounds by clicking through to paid-for content sparks investigation

Free iPad and smartphone games which can result in children running up hefty bills for their parents through expensive in-game features are to come under scrutiny from the Office of Fair Trading.

More than a quarter of children aged between five and 15 now own smartphones according to Ofcom, and many more have access to their parents’ devices. A whole industry has grown up around apps for them. Many are based on popular characters including the Smurfs and Playmobil and while the initial game can be downloaded for free, players are offered a range of costly upgrades.

Reports of children running up bills for hundreds of pounds by clicking through to this paid-for content are increasingly common, and in one case a parent reported being hit with charges of more than £3,000.

“We are concerned that children and their parents could be subject to unfair pressure to purchase when they are playing games they thought were free, but which can actually run up substantial costs,” said Cavendish Elithorn, the OFT’s senior director for goods and consumer.

The regulator will look into the marketing of these “in-app purchases” – additional content such as virtual currency, extra levels and upgraded features which can cost anything up to £70 a time. On the Smurfs Village game, for example, a wagon of Smurfberries costs £69.99. It has written to games developers and hosting services, and is asking parents and consumer groups to contact it with information about any potentially misleading or commercially aggressive practices they are aware of.

The OFT has not estimated the size of the market, but it said that of the 100 top grossing apps in the Android store, 80 were offered for free and made their money through sales of additional content. In a further indication of how much the market could be worth, in February Apple agreed to pay around $100m compensation to parents in the US whose children ran up huge bills using free apps downloaded from its iTunes store.

Justine Roberts, founder and CEO of the parenting website Mumsnet, said she had seen regular complaints about children unwittingly running up gigantic phone bills. “It’s all too easy for children to get sucked into games and before you know it they’ve racked up huge costs buying coins, berries and doughnuts,” she said.

Many of the parents reporting unexpected bills have talked about the ease of making a purchase, with children only having to click on a link to buy content if the device is already logged in to the Apple or Android store. However, the OFT’s initial investigation will not focus on the mechanisms of making a purchase, but on whether the way the add-ons are marketed breaches consumer law.

It said it would look in particular at “whether these games include ‘direct exhortations’ to children – a strong encouragement to make a purchase, or to do something that will necessitate making a purchase, or to persuade their parents or other adults to make a purchase for them”.

It will also consider whether the full cost of some of these games is made clear when they are downloaded or accessed.

Eithorn said the OFT was not looking to ban in-app purchases, but that the games industry needed to ensure it was complying with the relevant regulations. “We are speaking to the industry and will take enforcement action if necessary,” he said.

The OFT expects to publish its next steps by October 2013.

Samsung expects 53% jump in profit

Category : Business, World News

Samsung Electronics forecasts a 53% jump in profit for the first three months of the year, boosted mainly by growing smartphone sales.

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Facebook set to make small-screen debut on Android smartphone

Category : Business

Social network’s collaboration with HTC expected to customise functions ranging from camera to home screen

Facebook will take its biggest leap into mobile this evening when it is expected to unveil a collaboration with handset maker HTC and software that can take over any Android phone.

At an event in its San Francisco headquarters, the world’s largest social network will reveal how it intends to keep up with the computing habits of its 1 billion monthly users, 680 million of whom now access Facebook from a phone.

The centrepiece will be Facebook Home, an application which can be downloaded to Android phones to customise an array of functions from the camera to the home screen, according to a leak of the software seen by the Android Police website.

The software is likely to be illustrated on a device called Myst, specially made by Taiwanese firm HTC. The long-rumoured Facebook phone is the fruit of a two year development project whose early incarnation bore the codename ‘Buffy’ – presumably a reference to the vampire killer television series.

Other than an invitation to “Come see our new home on Android”, Facebook has given no clue as to the content of this evening’s presentation, but the Guardian’s west coast correspondent Rory Carroll will be reporting live from 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, when proceedings begin at 6pm GMT.

Facebook’s head of mobile Eric Tseng and other staff have been busy filing patents which hint at some of the big features that could appear. Chief among them is the ‘uberfeed’, according to technology news site Unwiredview, which will be visible from the locked home screen. It will gather information relevant to the owner not just from Facebook, but from emails, texts, news sources, location specific updates, and contain targeted advertising.

Enhanced caller identification pages could also show details of the person on the other end of the line including their location, and prompts such as the names of their children, their last holiday or a recent cinema outing.

The patent application, called “Caller identification using social networking information”, would essentially allow Facebook to take over the owner’s phone book and dialler. Tseng has even proposed ranking the hundreds of entries in the average smartphone contacts book according to ‘social proximity’, in otherword’s how close they are to the user.

Should all this feel too invasive, Facebook has patented a button or setting to switch sharing on and off. Leave it on, and everything you do from taking a train ride to photographing a friend’s birthday is broadcast over the internet.

The Myst handset will be more unique for its software, and the depth to which Facebook features such as its Instagram and instant messaging applications are integrated. The camera and memory are reportedly run of the mill, according to the anonymous Twitter user @LlabTooFeR, a source relied on by developers for unofficial updates on HTC’s plans.

The rear lens will have a modest 5 megapixel resolution rear lens for photos, the front facing camera 1.6 megapixels for video calls, and storage will be a basic 16GB. The screen is larger than the iPhone at 4.3 inches, and the handset will work on certain 4G networks.

Whatever Facebook is planning, founder Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear that the smarpthone will be his focus in 2013.

“You have a good version of all the Facebook features you know and want on your phone. So now the next thing we’re going to do is get really good at building new mobile-first experiences,” he told investors in January. “That’s going to be a big theme for us this year.”

Many of his customers now access Facebook only or mainly from a smartphone rather than a personal computer. In the last year, Facebook’s monthly active users over mobile have rocketed 57%, and if the network is to keep their attention it must ensure rival services such as Google+ do not outpace it on the small screen.

Samsung Galaxy S4 launch marks latest skirmish in firm’s battle with Apple

Category : Business

South Korean firm brings hostilities to iPhone maker’s home shores by debuting its latest smartphone in New York

The launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 on Thursday marks the latest skirmish in the longrunning and often bitter battle between the South Korean firm and Apple for supremacy in the smartphone market.

The launch event is seen as Samsung bringing the fight to Apple’s home market, with a rumoured production run of 100m S4 handsets. Apple and Samsung account for one in two mobile phones sold.

Worldwide, Samsung dominates the smartphone market, with analysts estimating that it shipped 63.7m smartphones in the fourth quarter of last year. But Apple remains the market leader in the US with ComScore, which tracks phone ownership, calculating that there were 48.9m iPhones in use in the US by January 2013, compared with 27.7m Samsung smartphones.

The number of iPhone users grew more than Android – including Samsung – users in the US last year – by 19m to 48.9m, compared with a rise of 18.5m to 67.7m respectively, with consumers buying almost half a million more Apple handsets in December compared with Android. The higher growth in Apple sales is attributed to the launch of the highly-anticipated iPhone 5 last October.

But industry analysts believe the Galaxy S4 could change the situation, with some suggesting Android users have been waiting for the phone’s launch to buy a new handset.

Apple is still bristling from a setback in its mobile patents battle with Samsung.

Earlier this month, a US judge slashed a $1.05bn (£698m) award by more than 40% ($450m) and ordered a new trial to decide how much – if any – damages Samsung should pay for infringements by 14 handsets and tablets. Both companies rely on each other for components and business.

Eye-tracking Samsung Galaxy unveiled

Category : Business

Samsung has launched its latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S4, which allows users to control the device with their eyes.

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Samsung set to launch S4 smartphone

Category : Business, World News

The latest in Samsung’s Galaxy smartphone range is expected to be unveiled at an event in New York on Thursday evening.

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Samsung set to launch S4 smartphone

Category : World News

The latest in Samsung’s Galaxy smartphone range is expected to be unveiled at an event in New York on Thursday evening.

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