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Texting and Talking While Driving Happened More Often in U.S. than In Europe Texting and Talking While Driving Happened More Often in U.S. than In Europe

March 15, 2013- U.S. drivers are more apt to take part in risky behaviors such as talking and texting on their mobile devices while driving than people in seven different European countries says a new study just released by the U.S. Center for Disease Control.

The new study was released on Thursday and found that over 69% of drivers in the U.S. have talked on their phone while driving in the last 30 days. That was compared to only 21% of drivers in Britain. In addition, 31% of U.S. drivers have either sent or read a text message while driving over the last month, compared to only 15% of Spain’s drivers.

Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC said that the cell phone is a possible fatal distraction for people who use it while driving. He continued by saying texting or dialing while driving are not a good mix and if you need to talk or text pull off to a safe area and stop prior to using the phone.

A larger percentage of men and women in the U.S. between 22 and 44 years of age reported speaking on their cell phone while behind the wheel, than those people who were between the ages of 55 and 64. More people between 18 and 34 texted or read while driving over that last 30 days than people aged between 45 and 64.

Researchers received their data from online surveys of auto drivers between the ages of 18 and 64 in the U.S., France, Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal and Spain.

As of the end of February of this year, the District of Columbia and 33 states have laws in force that restrict the use of cellular phones while driving.

Volkswagen targets increase of 60% in Vehicle Production in China Volkswagen targets increase of 60% in Vehicle Production in China

March 14, 2013 - The largest automaker in Europe, Volkswagen AG, announced plans to up its production in China by 60% prior to 2018. Last year, the German automaker’s earnings in China increased by nearly half.

The supervisory board approved a new plant for China that will build up to 300,000 new vehicles annually. The plant is scheduled to start operation in 2016, said CEO Martin Winterkorn. China capacity will increase to over 4 million vehicles annually in 2018 as the company adds seven more factories for building vehicles in China.

VW is putting its faith in growth for both the U.S. and China, along with increases in its luxury car Audi brand to help offset lower demand in recession hit Europe. The VW CEO said that the company was experiencing headwinds in the global market from competition, particularly at home.

The CEO said the potential for China was enormous, but even that market slowed to single digit growth from double digit and will remain that way for the near future.

VW was down by close to 4% in Thursday trading, the lowest price for intraday trading since November 23 of last year. This year the stock is off by over 6.7%.

Volkswagen has a goal of overtaking General Motors and Toyota to become the biggest worldwide carmaker before the end of 2018. Last year its two ventures in auto making in China accounted for more than 2.61 million autos, which was over 28% of the total vehicles the company sold across the globe for 2012.

VW also owns Porsche, Seat and Skoda brands and will construct a minimum of 10 plants that will include 7 in China, raising its number of factories in China to 19.

Dow Sets New Record with Help from Financial Stocks Dow Sets New Record with Help from Financial Stocks

March 06, 2013 - On Tuesday, financial stocks moved up, rising along with many other stocks as the Dow Jones passed its previous record to close at an all time high. Good data on the economy from Europe helped stocks on Tuesday along with a pledge by China to meet its growth targets.

J.P. Morgan Chase hit a high of 52 weeks at closing, ending the day at $49.49 per share, a gain of 0.8%. The largest bank in the U.S. is up over 12.5% this year. Shares at Bank of America were also up on Tuesday by more than 1.2% and at one point during the day, were the fourth largest gainer for the Dow. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs ended up 0.62% and 0.51% respectively. Both of those stocks have increased in value by 20% during 2013.

One of the S&P 500s most important sectors is financial stocks said a strategist with J.P. Morgan, as they make huge contributions to the economy in the U.S.

Banks have dragged their feet behind for the past few years due to the negative consumer sentiment following the financial crisis. That has caused the valuations in the bank stocks to drop and their earnings to weaken, said the strategist. However, the housing market recovery has helped bring about more confidence.

Financial stocks make up the stock market’s second biggest component, after technology stocks.

Michael Corbat, CEO at Citigroup Inc. was in Boston speaking at his firm’s conference on financial services, his first major public speech since being handed the reins last October. He talked about short term financial targets, lowering expenses and other moves to increase the company’s profit. On Tuesday, Citigroup’s stock ended up over 1% and is up for the year about 10%.


MasterCard Starts Mobile Payment System MasterCard Starts Mobile Payment System

February 25, 2013 - On Monday, in Barcelona, Spain at the Mobile World Congress, MasterCard unveiled its foray into the market of mobile payments. The unveiling has been long awaited and the world was able to see MasterPass on Monday for the first time. The system will incorporate both a mobile friendly checkout for the merchant as well as a digital wallet for the consumer both in-store and online. This signals a break for the credit card firm based in the U.S. from its traditional branding.

Although MasterCard for years has offered payment services online, they have revolved around its own credit cards, with card numbers being filled in by consumers to use on their phones.

A MasterCard Worldwide spokesperson said the new service would be in Canada and Australia by the start of April to consumer through different financial institutions. The UK and U.S. will receive the new system for use during the spring and summer.

Launch partners include Argos and Boots in the UK and the U.S. based American Airlines. Banco Santander, BNP Paribas, Swedbank, Citi, Westpac and Unicredit are all signed up to support the new service.

This year, at the Barcelona Mobile World Congress, mobile payments are at the top of the list for hot topics. The number of retail apps has skyrocketed, but revenues have not yet matched all the hype. The majority of retailers have built their own systems for payment, forcing the consumer to register and enter details for their payment separately.

MasterPass has a digital wallet or app that gives consumers the opportunity to maintain all their loyalty card and payment details as well as addresses for shipping on their mobile phone.

The second and more crucial part of MasterPass is the service of digital checkout for merchants. This will show up online as MasterCard payment option, similar to what MasterCard, Visa and PayPal do now. It will also be a QR code similar to a barcode in stores on items, which can be scanned by customers to be paid for instantly.

Twitter, Facebook and Apple Hacks All From Eastern Europe Twitter, Facebook and Apple Hacks All From Eastern Europe

February 20, 2013 - While much of the blame for recent security hacks on U.S. company websites have been pointed at China, some security experts believe the cyber attacks are coming from Eastern Europe.

Investigators familiar with cyber attacks believe a group of cybercriminals based in Russia or Eastern Europe is making the high level cyber attacks in order to steal secrets from the companies, research and any intellectual property they can find, which than could be sold anywhere on the black market.

Evidence that Eastern Europe is the location of the attacks is the type of malware the hackers are using, which hackers use more commonly than government supported spying. In addition, investigators were able to track one server that the hackers are using, to a hosting company in Ukraine.

Close to 40 companies were attacked over the past several months. Included in those companies are tech businesses like Apple, Twitter and Facebook along with newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the AP.

Apple announced that hackers had targeted computers its employees used, but no evidence was found that data had been taken from Apple. The company statement said it had discovered malware that took advantage of a vulnerability and a plug-in from Java and was sourced from a software developer’s site. Last month Java was blocked from some of Apple’s Macs by using its Xprotect antimalware and citing vulnerabilities in security.

A New York Times report on Monday claimed the overwhelming majority of cyber attacks on corporations, government agencies and other organizations in the U.S. came from a Shanghai office building with ties to the PLA or People’s Liberation Arm. Chinese authorities have denied those allegations.

This is not the first time cybercriminals have been accused of operating in Eastern Europe. McAfee Labs, the security firm, published a December report warning that hackers in Eastern Europe were making more attacks on financial institutions in the U.S.

Euro moves off Two Week Low Euro moves off Two Week Low

February 11, 2013 - On Monday, the euro was able to edge away from lows of two weeks, while crude and equities in Europe remained at monthly highs. Worries over developments politically in Europe could be offset by new signs of world trade increasing.

However, no major drivers in the economy were present and trading was light due to the holiday for the Lunar New Year shutting down most of the financial centers throughout Asia. The current focus is on the upcoming meeting between finance ministers in the euro zone.

Most analysts do not expect the meeting to create much, but following comments last week from Mario Draghi the European Central Bank president about the rise in the euro, there will be interest in any talk over the recent strength of the currency.

Italy and Spain political scandals, tension between France and Germany and worry over a bailout for Cyprus are all weighing on the recent positive sentiments toward assets in Europe since the start of the New Year.

Sentiments towards the common currency shifted since February 1 when it hit a high of 15 months at $1.3711. The shift was given additional momentum after Draghi said if the strength of the euro continued it could lead to finance leaders making a cut in interest rates.

Those comments from Draghi came amidst increasing concern in world markets over the possibility of currency wars as the major trading nations attempt to increase their competitiveness in exporting.

Fears over the devaluations of currencies were heightened even further when Haruhiko Kuroda the president of the Asian Development Bank and a leading candidate to be the next governor of the Bank of Japan, gave his support for the yen to be weaker. Venezuela weakened its currency last Friday by 32%.


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