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tv   Nightly Business Report  PBS  August 21, 2012 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT

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>> this is nbr. >> susie: good evening. i'm susie gharib. oil prices are creeping back up, hitting a three-month high, and that's bad news for american consumers and businesses. >> tom: i'm tom hudson. apple's stock gets a downgrade, and best buy shares hit their lowest point in almost a decade. tonight, as we continue our look at the fiscal cliff, the spending cuts it triggers could mean big setbacks for modern medicine. >> tom: that and more tonight on nbr! captioning sponsored by wpbt >> susie: pain at the gas pump is back, and that means a late
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summer getaway is going to cost you more. oil prices moved closer today to the $100-a-barrel level, closing today at $96.68. and gasoline prices have soared almost 30 cents a gallon in the past month. regular unleaded now averages $3.72 a gallon nationwide. but some drivers, like those in california, already are paying all-time highs. that hurts consumers and businesses. erika miller reports. >> reporter: yes, it's costing you more to fill up your car's gas tank. but imagine if you drove this bus, which holds 250 gallons of fuel. >> this one is for $350, and >> reporter: that's only a partial fill-up. a full tank costs well over $1,000. in addition to charter bus trips, kismet offers standard black limousine service. gasoline is the company's
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biggest expense. >> fuel is approximately 47% of our total overall business model. fuel is what really eats up our profit. so when that goes up, it's hitting right in our pocket. >> reporter: even though rising fuel prices are taking a big bite out of profits, kismet has not raised prices or tacked on a fuel surcharge. instead, it would rather eat the higher costs than risk alienating customers. >> we keep the rates where they are. we have a lot of loyal customers. they appreciate that we keep the rates where they are. we are happy when the price of gas comes down. this way, we kind of make up for the loss. >> reporter: but the firm is trying to offset the higher gasoline costs by adding more fuel-efficient vehicles to its fleet. unfortunately, prices at the pump are expected to trek higher in the next few weeks. >> we've had a refinery outage in california. we had one in oklahoma. we have some pipeline issues in north america. all of these things are
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contributing to higher gasoline prices, and as we look out to the labor day weekend, we're starting to see stronger demand. >> reporter: that's bad news for the overall economy, because the more money that's spent to fill tanks, the less that can be spent at restaurants, stores, and other places. the oil price information service estimates consumers are paying $149 million more for fuel now, compared to the start of july. and some economists worry rising prices will drag down spending in the second half of the year. but the hope is prices at the pump will fall by a nickel or more after labor day as demand drops. so firms like kismet are just trying to ride out higher fuel expense until then. erika miller, nbr, teaneck, new jersey. >> tom: beyond rising gasoline prices, what about a pair of sneakers? nike is raising shoe and clothing prices by as much as 10%, according to "the wall street journal." the company said rising labor and commodity costs, such as
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cotton, are squeezing profit margins. and then there's this sign of consumer confidence from nike. it's most expensive sneaker due to go on sale this fall, the lebron 10, will be priced at $315. that's more than twice the price tag on the last pair of lebron james sneakers. analysts point out consumers have been willing to shell out higher prices for the nike brand. >> susie: while branding can carry a retailer a long way when it comes to making a sale, shoppers have strong opinions about how and what they spend money on in the face of a slow economy and tough job market. diane eastabrook found that out today at an electronics store near chicago. >> reporter: abt electronics just outside of chicago has something for everyone. looking for a tv? they have dozens of them. >> how much are you looking to spend? $500, maybe $600? >> reporter: there's every kind of camera, designer sunglasses, and microwaves. >> i spent $335.62 for a
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microwave. >> reporter: was price important when you were shopping today? >> oh, sure, yes. >> reporter: president michael abt says, in recent months, his customers have been more price conscious about some products. >> maybe they're not buying the most expensive samsung, they're buying the middle model. or on a watch, they're not buying raymond weil, they're buying swiss army. >> reporter: but they're not price conscious about every product. a couple of weeks ago, the store began selling mattresses priced anywhere from $300 to $30,000. abt says, apparently, when it comes to sleep, people like to splurge. >> we thought our average price of a mattress would be $800, $600. we noticed that people like to buy expensive mattresses. so, our average price has been in the $1,600 to $1,800 range. that was a complete surprise. >> reporter: abt says consumers are shopping around a lot more, and when they do pull the trigger on a purchase, they know exactly what they're willing to spend. >> i bought a dishwasher. w al, itl together, around $2,000. diane eastabrook, nbr, glenview, illinois. >> tom: still ahead, temporary
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workers. they've come a long way from filing paperwork and answering the phone. today's super temps have multiple college degrees and years of experience. >> susie: on wall street, the bulls ran out of breath as stocks reversed early gains to losses. spurring the move to take money off the table, a downgrade of tech darling apple. we'll talk with the analyst behind that call in just a moment. the dow fell 68 points, the nasdaq lost nine, and the s&p off almost five points. just shy of $675 in the middle of trading session. started selling off though as word circulated that washington stated's based oracle investment research had down graded apple stock from buy to hold. apple shares closed down about one and-a-half [%. the firm's chief investment at any rate gist said some high surrounding the stocks concerns him. he joins us now by phone. the cut price target as well on apple less than $650.
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what concerns you about apple shares most to stop recommending purchase of them? >> sure. well there are three minute topics which is interest her share growth rate has been in significant decline over the last several quarters. that concern us because the average selling price of the ipad and iphones have come down. and to me that could be a po potential signal that there's some saturation. second is the market capitalization not the valuation but the capitalization we heard this story blf whe before when s at the seat there was a big frenzy and everything was piling on that concerns us. lastly is the flutterratio flire interest into the tv market and the -- market which we think that that might be a margin, putting some market pressure on the stocks.
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it's not like we're saying it's a shell we're just saying it's a hold and we want to see what the product's going to look like. >> lawrence do you have a position on apple yourself. >> no. >> none at all. but you're suggesting clients no longer add to their position. lawrence along with us chief investment strategist at oracle investment research. >> susie: best buy was also not a good buy today-- the stock tumbled after the struggling retailer reported dismal quarterly earnings. second quarter profits plunged 91%. sales fell over 3%, and the company is suspending its stock buyback program. best buy also said it will no longer offer earnings guidance. best buy shares came near a nine-year low, $17.91 a share on the news. the sell-off comes just a day after the company named a new c.e.o., hubert joly. joining us now, bradley thomas, equity research analyst at keybanc capital markets. so brad, what's the problem with best buy. what's behind those laosly earnings.
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>> we have pressure right now. the big us one we think is the threat of the internet and amazon, customers are willing to go into best buy stores, browse for products and then they start buying on-line. frankly we think on-line is a lot stic stickier than given crt for. so amazon sales over the last ten years have averaged 27% growth and over the last two years they've gone over 40%. that's a big head wind for best buy. >> so is this business model that best buy's been going with is the big store and multiple products, is that business model broken? >> we think it is. we think it needs a great deal of fixing. ultimately best buy is stuck in the middle right now. they don't offer enough service. they want people to come in their stores and pay a premium. frankly we don't think the consumer wants to pay a premium for electronics. it's going to come down to
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price. and today best buy is not the lowest prices. and the question is, are they willing to go out and match internet prices if they don't, this could end up being a broken business model in ten years. >> tell us about the new ceo. what do you think he can do? do you think he can turn things around? >> the thing is you disburse the ceo -- were all home grown while mr. jole has been credit sized for not having formal experience he has experience as a turn around expert, someone working in the entertainment hotel and restaurant industries. frankly i think even if we had pulled geriatric wels jack welsf retirement i don't think he could turn around best buy. >> the situation is -- >> -- u optimistic in costs and
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the consumer. but there are no silver bullets here. we'll believe it when we see it. >> well you know that the founder of best buy has been saying the last couple of weeks that he wants to buy the company and he's offering a price of 24 to $26 a share. do you think best buy would be better off even though he's the founder than the way the situation is right now if he were running it? >> you know, we think that could be an opportunity for the company. ultimately what we're proposing is that the end game for best buy is a bad one if they aren't willing to become a low priced leader. and you know, frankly that strategy may be a painful one, it's a public company that the public company's board and management team may not want to
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put it in place and a private company may be what this company needs. >> any disclosure -- the company do any business with best buy? >> we do not own the stock. i believe we see revenues of many clients at keybanc but at this point there is none. >> bradley thomas, equity research analyst at keybanc capital markets. >> susie: as we continue our special coverage of the "fiscal cliff," the defense budget isn't
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the only one at risk of getting slashed. the package of defense and entitlement cuts includes non- defense discretionary spending that funds hundreds of programs across the country. as sylvia hall reports, there's a lot more on the line than you may think. >> reporter: in this research lab in baltimore, dr. curt civin and his team of researchers are trying to answer some of our toughest health questions. they study stem cells in test tubes and in mice to understand leukemia and, hopefully, to find a cure. >> it's a long, long enterprise that we have to learn how to do, and find the right drugs and optimize that drug further, make new and different drugs. we have to test them in test tubes, test them in mice. test them in clinical trials in people. only then does the pharmaceutical industry really want to license that drug. >> reporter: he counts on grants from the national institutes of health to pay for the process.
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but the institute stands to lose nearly $2.4 billion as part of the sequester's cuts to discretionary spending. it's unclear how that will affect civin's team, but for researchers across the country, it could mean fewer and smaller grants. >> if we cut that much from the n.i.h. budget, we're going to have fewer jobs and fewer cures. >> reporter: dr. civin thinks with fewer funds, more researchers will have to fight for the same grants. and he says that means revolutionary ideas won't always make the cut, because they're unusual and untested. >> this is crazy, and this is really against our national interest in any good sense. >> reporter: the 8% cut in discretionary spending would shave the budgets of a huge range of programs, from law enforcement to job training to social services and education. head start, a program that helps low-income children prepare for kindergarten, stands to lose almost $600 million. another program that subsidizes energy costs for families who can't afford to heat and cool their homes also faces cuts.
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phoenix mayor greg stanton says these services are critical to his city, and they're part of the reason he's speaking up against the sequester. >> it was never meant to be implemented. it causes unnecessary job loss, unnecessary impact on the lives of people most in need. and all we need to resolve it is statesmanship by members of congress, and we are not seeing it right now. >> reporter: congress has until january 1 to reverse the spending cuts set in motion by the seqeuster. but nobody expects a real solution before the november election. until then, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over programs on the cut list and the jobs that support them. >> this is not just an inside- the-beltway issue; this will affect your life. it will affect either your job or the job of someone you know. it will affect families in our community. it could send our country back into recession. >> reporter: sylvia hall, nbr, washington >> susie: tomorrow, we'll continue our fiscal cliff coverage with a look at the tax increases that are set to take
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effect when the deadline hits at the beginning of next year. the latest numbers on campaign spending are out. so far, republican frontrunner mitt romney raised about $100 million last month for his campaign and the party, outpacing president obama's $75 million. romney and the republican national committee reported having $186 million of cash on hand. that's about $60 million more than obama and the democratic national committee reported. but analysts say how much money you raise isn't the only factor that determines a political win- - what you do with that cash is important too.
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>> tom: another relatively quiet late-summer tone to the stock market today as the major indices were unable to hold on to early gains. the s&p 500 looked to move up this morning after yesterday's flat session, but it couldn't hold the bid and had dropped into negative territory by early afternoon. the index finished lower by five points. trading volume climbed a little from yesterday-- 638 million on the big board; just under 1.6 billion shares on the nasdaq. the telecommunications sector again saw the biggest percentage loss, falling 1%, utilities dropped seven-tenths of a percent, and technology was down six-tenths of a percent. after the closing bell, the second biggest maker of computers, dell, was in focus after reporting another slump in sales. while dell's quarterly earnings were better than anticipated, reporting 50 cents per share, a
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nickel ahead of estimates, revenues were below expectations. sales in dell's consumer business were down 22%. that's the second quarter in a row of a double-digit decline. the stock came into tonight's results down 1.8% today. this was the biggest losermong the tech sector. after cutting its financial forecast as part of its earnings release, the stock fell another 3% below this closing price to trade less than $1 away from a new low. facebook is close to a new low after one of the company's earlier investors sold most of his position. peter thiel, the co-founder of paypal, invested in facebook years before it went public. but his stock selling added to the pressure on the stock. facebook stock was off 4.3% on heavy trading volume. the stock has now lost almost half its value since going public in may. we have a closer look of facebook's stock chart on our web site, click on the blogs section for technical analysis by michael kahn. as we mentioned, the telecommunications sector has led the sector losers over the past two sessions. verizon is among those falling to multi-week lows.
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today's 1.9% drop takes verizon shares back to prices last seen in mid-june. bloomberg reported verizon wireless' effort to buyos additional wireless spectrum from cable companies likely will be approved by regulators. speaking of regulators, coal mining stocks were higher after a federal appeals court ruled against the environmental protection agency's effort to limit emissions across state lines. alpha natural resources rallied 6.2%, peabody was up 3.7%. urban outfitters has the hot clothes according to consumers. the company's latest quarter was much better than expected, pushing shares to a new high, up more than 18%. volume was ten times average. in-store and internet sales were both up by double digits. the euro currency sits at its highest level against the dollar tonight in seven weeks. there continues to be speculation the european central bank may announce new efforts to
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keep down borrowing costs. the bank meets in two weeks. the euro has popped up lately; it now takes $1.24 to buy one euro, up from the two-year low against the dollar hit in mid- july. four of the five most actively traded e.t.f.s were lower. the lone gainer was the financial sector exchange traded fund. it gained three-tenthsf ant percent. and that's tonight's "market focus."f
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>> susie: being a temporary worker isn't what it used to be. between flexible schedules, comfortable salaries, and greater work-life balance, economic uncertainty and technology are breathing life into a market of highly skilled temporary employees. ruben ramirez reports. >> reporter: this neighborhood is more typically associated with high-end shopping and gre dining. as a matter of fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in a business suit around here. it feels like it's miles away from midtown manhattan, which is home to the world's best known investment banks. that's one reason nick leopard decided to make soho his staffing firm's home. >> you could always tap into project-based accounting staff, but nobody had ever institutionalized the ability to tap into former investment banking and private equity professionals. >> reporter: accordian isn't your average temporary staffing firm. his staff of 24 consultants work on high-profile deals alongside high-profile clients like toyota and the u.s. navy. a report for consulting firm mckinsey late last year found
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that the shift toward "contingency workers" will continue as businesses look to bring in highly specialized workers for set time periods. the report says 58% of firms plan to hire more contingent workers in the years ahead. earlier this year, the "harvard business review" called it "the rise of the supertemp." but unlike the big investment banks, where the standard work- week can run 80 to 90 hours, accordian expects just 60. oh, and did i mention you get to choose which projects you'd like to work on? >> what we wanted to do was build a culture that took the best of banking, but also play more towards this generational mentality where there is a work- life balance requirement across this generation. >> reporter: work-life balance is one thing that drew mow wong to accordian. he'd already put in 15 years at big banks, including bear stearns. >> it's a very addicting thing to be able to sort of set your own schedule sometimes when you want to, sort of pick and choose
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when you want to work on deals, and when you don't want to work on deals. >> reporter: but the big question, how is the pay? accordian says if consultants choose to take on a steady stream of projects, it's comparable to big bank salaries. but before you quit your job, it looks like there are plenty of people who'd like a better work- life balance. accordian says they've got about 3,000 resumes. how many will they hire this year? at most, about 20 people. >> i think there's something very inviting i think about coming into a space that's in soho, not in midtown, where people aren't always in suits and ties, but are working just as hard. there's an ease of it that makes it comfortable. >> reporter: maybe it does come down to a different neighborhood and a different tune that's got the flexibility of an accordian. ruben ramirez, nbr, new york >> tom: tomorrow on nbr, was the federal reserve thinking about doing more to boost the economy in its last meeting? we'll find out tomorrow when the central bank releases its notes
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from that meeting. we will talk about it with first trust advisors' brian wesbury. also on the calendar, housing-- the latest report on existing home sales, and earnings from major home builder, toll brothers. >> susie: the recent recession was hardest for those with the least amount of education. that's why tonight's commentator believes the key to a lasting recovery is focusing on those who need help the most. here's jamie merisotis, c.e.o. of the lumina foundation. the recession that bank in late 2007 exposed how important post high school education has become, to individual success and our national economy. nearly four out of every five jobs destroyed by the recent recession were held by workers with a high school diploma or less. and throughout our so-called recovery, this group has lost another 230,000 jobs. by comparison workers with a bachelor's degree have led the way with an increase of 2.2 million jobs since the recession began. the need for more educated workers has been growing for decades and rising student debt isn't making things easier.
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we've reached a critical crossroads when it comes to funding higher education in this country. what we've always done isn't working anymore. it's time for a thoughtful redesign of the post-secondary system. the fast forward must be focused on better serving the growing number of low income. first generation, minority and adult students across america. the great recession exposed our needs for a more education work force and a new system that can deliver it. if we intend to compete in the global economy, we have to find a way to train a lot more workers for skilled jobs. it could be the most serious challenge that we face as a nation and it's time for policy makers and business leaders to take action. i'm jamie merisotis. >> some of us parents, of course i'm 20 years away from second de, still packing lunches for the second grader. >> make sure they do their
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homework and get good grades. >> tom: that's "nightly business report" for tuesday, august 21. good night, susie, and everyone. >> susie: good night, tom. thanks for watching, everyone. we'll see you online at and back here tomorrow night. captioning sponsored by wpbt captioned by media access group at wgbh
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