MICROSOFT WEIGHS UPPING BID FOR YAHOO: Microsoft Corp.'s directors were meeting Wednesday to consider raising the software maker's $41.9 billion bid for Yahoo Inc. instead of pursuing a threatened hostile takeover attempt, according to a published report. A decision could emerge after the meeting, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter. Microsoft also is weighing withdrawing its bid -- a move likely to cause a precipitous drop in Yahoo's stock, which has been bolstered by the 3-month-old takeover bid. Yahoo shares gained 5 cents Wednesday to finish at $27.41. Before Microsoft announced its unsolicited bid in February, Yahoo's stock price stood at $19.18, near its four-year low. If Yahoo's stock deteriorated during the next few months, Microsoft could return with another bid that would be more difficult to turn down. Investors have been eagerly awaiting word of Microsoft's next move since Yahoo let pass an April 26 deadline for accepting the offer.
AT&T LAUNCHES NEW VIDEO SERVICE ON SUNDAY: AT&T Inc. is launching its new video service for cell phones Sunday on two phones, and will charge $15 per month for 10 channels. AT&T Mobile TV is almost identical to Verizon Wireless' V Cast Mobile TV, and is operated by the same company, Qualcomm Inc. AT&T will have two exclusive channels on the service, it said Thursday. AT&T already has a mobile video service called CV, which is based on different technology. It works like Internet video, providing short clips on demand. Qualcomm's MediaFLO service is more like regular TV broadcasts, constantly streaming shows on airwaves that run alongside regular cell phone spectrum. The service will be available in 58 markets, including Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. The only AT&T handsets that initially will work with the service are the ones that are going on sale Sunday: the LG Vu, a touch-screen phone for $299.99, and the Samsung Access, a more traditional phone for $199.99. The prices apply with two-year contracts and are after $100 mail-in rebates. Other TV-capable phones will become available later.
ONE-YEAR TREASURY BILL TO MAKE A RETURN: The Bush administration, moving to cope with soaring budget deficits, says it is bringing back the one-year Treasury bill that it stopped issuing seven years ago when the budget was in surplus. The administration said Wednesday that it would begin selling the one-year bill, also referred to as a 52-week bill, at an initial auction in June. New one-year securities will be auctioned every four weeks. The government is looking for various ways to borrow the billions of dollars in extra cash it will need to cover a budget deficit that is expected to jump to an all-time high this year, surpassing the old mark of $413 billion set in 2004. Private economists are projecting that the deficit for this year could surge as high as $500 billion. A big part of the increased borrowing reflects the need to pay for economic-stimulus rebates to 130 million households. The government began disbursing the payments Monday in an effort to give the economy a jump start.
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Homebuilder Centex Corp. reported a loss of $911 million in its fiscal fourth quarter, as sales tumbled 37 percent. To revive sales, Centex cut its average selling price 15 percent. Still, home closings declined in every region of the country. The company said Wednesday that it lost $7.34 per share in the three months ended March 31, compared with a profit of $198.9 million, or $1.65, a year earlier.
Starbucks Corp. said Wednesday that its fiscal second-quarter profit fell 28 percent as U.S. consumers responded to rising food and gas prices by making fewer latte runs. For the quarter ended March 30, Starbucks' net income sank to $108.7 million, or 15 cents per share, from $150.8 million, or 19 cents a share in the same period last year. Revenue rose 12 percent to $2.53 billion from $2.26 billion in the year-ago quarter, the company said Wednesday.
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86: Percentage of U.S. consumers who say they are more likely to do business with a company that offers the flexibility to interact using self-service -- whether via the Internet, on a mobile device or at a kiosk or ATM, according to a survey by NCR and BuzzBack Market Research
56: Percentage of respondents who say their likelihood to use self-service has increased over the past year
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