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Monday, December 28, 2009

Google or Baidu in China or USA ?

Google v. Baidu: Which company will win China?

Posted by S. N. Mehta,

The Chinese company dominates online searches in its home market, but Google's ambitions go well beyond Googling.

At first glance one might readily declare "game over" in the China online search war. Beijing-based Baidu (BIDU) dominates: According to Jennifer Li, Baidu's chief financial officer, Baidu's market share for search in China was about 77% in the third quarter, up from 75.6% in the second quarter.

Google (GOOG), she says, lost share in China, dropping to 17% in the third quarter, from about 19% in the second quarter.

And Baidu is trying to extend its search dominance on mobile phones, an area where Google has done well in China, thanks to a search deal with China Mobile, the nation's largest carrier. In October Baidu announced a deal to provide mobile search to customers of China Unicom's (CHU) 3G services, and it also is testing a mobile app that features Baidu's some most popular online tools, including a message board service.

Surprisingly, Google's struggles in China have little to do with the quality of its search results in Chinese.

Tech analaysts in China have said Google has done a good job understanding the nuances of the Chinese language. (Google hasn't fared as well in Russia, where rival Yandex dominates thanks, in part, to its ability to accommodate the peculiarities of the Russian language.) Some users also say Google delivers a better search experience: Baidu had been criticized for mixing ads and organic search results on the same confusing page.

Baidu benefits from incumbent status (it formed in 2000, while Google China didn't get going until 2006 –after Google sold a modest share in Baidu) and, its executives say, a set of tools that help Chinese users get information – not just search results. A tool called Baidu Post Bar it a bit like a social-networking application that allows users to tap other folks online for advice or comments as they are searching for, say, the best appliance to buy.

But no one, least of all Baidu executives, assumes Google is content with its position in China today. "We don't underestimate their technology or their ability," says Baidu CFO Li.

And while Baidu, for now, seems content to focus on search (CEO Robin Li likes to point out that the company's other services – maps, mail, Baidu Post – all help enhance the search experience) Google's ambitions in China go well beyond traditional online advertising and search. The company is widely believed to be looking for multiple ways to introduce its Android mobile operating platform in China, and recent reports suggest it may look to open an Android application marketplace in China.

For now, though, Google must live with its second-banana status in China. According to various Chinese news outlets (we can't find the original document online in English) Google China issued a news release listing the most popular searches in China in 2008. The most searched term among Google users in mainland China? Baidu.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Predictions 2010: Stocks, Jobs, Inflation & More ! D. Kneale Articale CNBC ( GE,C,GS, )

Stolen Without a Gun: Confessions from Inside History's Biggest Accounting Fraud - The Collapse of MCI WorldCom [STOLEN W/O A GUN]

By: Dennis Kneale

CNBC Media & Technology Editor

A funny thing happened on the way to Armageddon.

One year ago, the world braced for total economic collapse. We writhed in shock and fear in the wake of Bear Stearns-Lehman Brothers-AIG-Merrill Lynch-Wachovia-Countrywide et al.

The experts declared, "Game Over". The Wall Street model was dead and profits would take years to recover; the consumer was exhausted; credit markets were frozen: and the economy would languish for years to come. As for mergers & acquisitions and hedge funds and the private equity business: fuhgeddaboudit.

They were, all of them, just wrong, wrong, wrong. Our economy is healing more quickly than legions of pixel pundits ever believed possible. I’m sorry to gloat, guys, but while many so preached doom a year ago, I was sellin’ the hope.

Last November, I posted nine predictions for the new year, most of them in the searching-for-hope category. One year later, by my reckoning, I was right, more or less, on eight out of nine (see below). Now that I’m feeling a little cocky, here's my big-picture predictions for 2010.

1. Stocks.

The Dow 30 will have another volatile year, dipping below 10,000 a time or two before closing year-end at 11,650.

2. Economy.

We won’t have a second-dip recession; instead GDP will surprise the experts again by growing 3.0 percent or better for the full year.

3. Job Market.

Growth returns by the start of the second half of the year and a robust spring-back in hiring will startle the doubters.

4. Inflation.

Inflation smation. It will run below 2.0 percent for most of the year.

5. General Electric.

GE [GE 15.44 0.03 (+0.19%) ] will spin out or sell off a few huge businesses to focus mainly on heavy-metal infrastructure for the developing world. Goodbye light bulbs and, maybe, medical-imaging; hello, partial-stake spin or IPO for GE Capital. (GE, of course, is the parent company of CNBC and ... for now)

6. Citigroup.

Citigroup [C 3.35 0.06 (+1.82%) ] will cease to exist. Breakup artists will descend to chop it and sell off the pieces.

7. Goldman Sachs.

Wall Street powerhouse Goldman [GS 163.97 0.34 (+0.21%) ] will pump out even higher net income in 2010 than it did in 2009, and move early to buy out the preferred stake it sold to Warren Buffett at the height of the Great Meltdown of late ’08.

Current DateTime: 11:25:50 25 Dec 2009

LinksList Documentid: 34134938

Autos: Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad

Consumers: Forever Frugal

Markets: Uncertain For Sure

Media: Content (And Consumers) King

Real Estate: Still On The Mend

Sports: Less Luxury, More 3-D

Tech: Go Microsoft, Goodbye Twitter

The Big Picture: Big (Positive) Surprises

8. Health Care.

Obamacare will stall on a revolt by middle-class taxpayers, once they realize this trillion-dollar entitlement would also cover 15 million illegal aliens.

9. Obama.

The president will suffer a setback in the mid-term elections. The Democrats will lose seats in both the House and Senate. The good news—this will force Bam back to the middle, and that would help the markets.

10. Taxes.

The Dems’ mid-term spanking and a still-mending economy will force Obama to leave in place a couple of the Bush tax cuts that otherwise expire at the end of 2010. My bet—the lower rates on capital gains and dividends

8 Great Stocks for 2010 -

8 Great Stocks for 2010 -

Posted using ShareThis

8 Great Stocks for 2010 -

8 Great Stocks for 2010 -

Posted using ShareThis

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

sales in homes go higher in 2010 & Nov. 2009 ??

Bloomberg) -- Sales of existing U.S. homes in November rose to the highest level in almost three years as first-time buyers rushed to take advantage of a government tax credit and lower prices.

Purchases increased 7.4 percent to a 6.54 million annual rate, exceeding the highest estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed today in Washington. Another report showed the economy grew a less-than-forecast 2.2 percent in the third quarter as companies cut stockpiles, pointing to manufacturing gains at the start of 2010.

The housing market is getting a boost from efforts by the government and Federal Reserve to stabilize the industry at the center of the worst recession since the 1930s. Improved consumer spending combined with record decreases in inventories will promote production, which may keep the world’s largest economy growing into 2010.

The economy is “rebounding again pretty much across the board,” said Steven Wieting, managing director of economic and market analysis at Citigroup Global Markets Inc. in New York. “We will see somewhat stronger growth,” he said, adding “it’s not going to be one of these dramatic recoveries.”

Stocks rose and Treasury securities fell after the reports. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.4 percent to 1,118.79 at 1:28 p.m. in New York, and the S&P Homebuilder Supercomposite Index was up 3.8 percent. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.74 percent from 3.68 percent late yesterday.

Slower Expansion

The economy grew at a 2.2 percent annual rate in the third quarter, down from a prior estimate of 2.8 percent, revised figures from the Commerce Department showed today. Companies curbed spending and cut inventories at an even faster pace, leading to a slower pace of expansion.

Existing home sales were projected to rise to a 6.25 million annual rate, according to the median forecast of 69 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. Estimates ranged from 5.2 million to 6.5 million. The NAR revised October’s reading down to a 6.09 million pace from an initially reported 6.1 million rate.

First-time buyers accounted for 51 percent of sales last month, and 71 percent of the houses sold cost less than $250,000, the report from the real-estate agents’ group showed. The figures indicate the government’s tax credit helped boost demand.

Mortgage Rates

Fed debt purchases are helping keep mortgage rates close to record lows, while President Barack Obama’s Nov. 7 extension and expansion of the tax credit through April may provide short-term impetus to sales and construction.

The central bank last week signaled it would keep lending rates low for “an extended period” to foster growth. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.94 percent last week and has averaged 4.85 percent since the end of October, according to Freddie Mac.

“Housing is on a solid footing through to the spring markets,” said Derek Holt, an economist at Scotia Capital Inc. in Toronto, who forecast a rise to 6.5 million units. “But once foreclosed, unlisted homes go back on the market and homebuyers’ incentives come off, we’re looking at a weaker back half of next year.”

Purchases of existing homes rose 44 percent in November compared with a year earlier, the biggest increase on record. The median price was $172,600, down 4.3 percent from November 2008. The figure is influenced by the mix of sales and the drop reflects the growing proportion of lower-priced houses.

Home Prices

A report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency in Washington showed home prices fell 1.9 percent in October from a year earlier. The group’s U.S. housing index is down 10.8 percent from the April 2007 peak.

The number of previously owned unsold homes on the market fell 1.3 percent to 3.52 million. At the current sales pace, it would take 6.5 months to sell those houses compared with 7 months at the end of October. The ratio is the lowest since December 2006.

The share of homes sold as foreclosures or otherwise distressed properties was 33 percent, said Lawrence Yun, the agents group’s chief economist.

“The tax credit had the intended impact of drawing buyers in and lowering inventory,” Yun said in a news conference. “An estimated 2 million buyers have taken advantage of the credit.”

Single-Family Sales

The report showed sales of existing single-family homes rose 8.5 percent to an annual rate of 5.77 million. Sales of condos and co-ops were unchanged at a 770,000 rate.

Toll Brothers Inc., the largest U.S. luxury-home builder, projected deliveries may fall by as much as 33 percent in the 12 months through October 2010, and the average selling price may drop as low as $540,000.

“We believe it may take some time for Americans to regain confidence in our economy, their job status and the benefits of home ownership,” Robert Toll, chief executive officer at Toll Brothers, said in a Dec. 3 statement. “We anticipate a gradual recovery in housing, similar to the one that occurred in the early 1990s.”

B. Wilis

Monday, December 7, 2009

Is The Fed Raising Interest Rates in 2010 ?

Ideas that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates next year sent U.S. stock index futures lower Monday ahead of a speech from the Fed's chairman.

S&P 500 futures fell 4.3 points to 1,103.80 and Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 7.25 points to 1,787.75. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 38 points.

U.S. stocks closed higher Friday after news that just 11,000 nonfarm payroll jobs were lost in November--the smallest rate of job destruction in nearly two years. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 22 points, the Nasdaq Composite added 21 points and the S&P 500 climbed 6 points.

Gains were tempered by the dollar's rally on growing expectations of rate hikes from the U.S. Federal Reserve, which at the moment has interest rates at near-zero levels.

"The very strong inverse relationship over the past 18 months between the dollar and risk assets will be the most interesting thing to watch in 2010 if the greenback finally bottoms," said Jim Reid, a strategist at Deutsche Bank. "It's still a big 'if' but Friday was fascinating in that the market ended higher after the dollar rally but only via some extreme intra-day moves across different assets."

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will have a chance to address that issue in a speech due for delivery at noon Eastern.

Ahead of Bernanke, the dollar rose against the euro but fell vs. the Japanese yen, which some analysts say is the currency that may become the target of the new carry trade. A carry trade is when traders borrow in a low-yielding currency to reinvest elsewhere.

Gold futures continued their slide, losing $28 an ounce. Oil futures also dropped and traded below the $75 a barrel level.

Citi (C) will be in the spotlight as Kuwait sold a $4.1 billion stake in the New York lender, while the Financial Times reported that Citi is hoping to convince U.S. authorities to allow it to repay $20 billion of bailout funds.

Akamai Technologies (AKAM) on Monday lifted its fourth-quarter revenue and earnings guidance, saying trading in the first two months of the quarter have exceeded its expectations. The Internet services company lifted its guidance for fourth-quarter adjusted earnings to a range of 42 cents to 43 cents a share, from a range of 39 cents to 41 cents a share.

Analysts had been expecting adjusted earnings of 40 cents a share on revenue of $221.9 million

Bank pay also will be in the spotlight as Britain is reportedly weighing new measures to tax bonuses, while five senior executives told American International Group (AIG) that they'll quit if compensation was cut significantly by a U.S. pay czar, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In Asia, resource stocks struggled but the Nikkei 225 advanced 1.5% in Tokyo after the biggest weekly drop in the yen in ten years.

The pan-European Dow Jones Stoxx 600 fell 0.7%.

By W. Watts,

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