FACEBOOK MAKING IT EASIER TO SHARE STUFF: Facebook Inc. is loosening its grip on millions of personal profiles to allow inhabitants of its popular Internet hangout to transplant the information and applications to other Web sites. With the changes announced Friday, Facebook joins a growing movement to make it easier for people to share their favorite pictures, information and applications with family and friends anywhere on the Internet. Facebook, which has about 70 million users worldwide, unveiled its plans the day after its bigger rival, News Corp.'s MySpace, made a similar commitment. Unlike MySpace, which has about 200 million users worldwide, Palo Alto-based Facebook plans to allow users to take their personal profiles to any Web site that wants to host them. For starters, MySpace is opening user profiles only to a select group of sites, including leading destinations owned by Yahoo Inc. and eBay Inc. Facebook and MySpace say several weeks remain before their users' data becomes portable.
FDIC CLOSES 'UNSAFE AND UNSOUND' BANKS: Federal regulators said they've closed ANB Financial National Association banks after discovering "unsafe and unsound" business practices there. David Barr, a spokesman for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., said many customers served by the bank's nine locations had accounts under $100,000, which will be fully insured by the government. Barr said customers can continue to write checks and draw money from ATMs through the weekend. Barr said Pulaski Bank and Trust Co. agreed to assume control over ANB Financial's bank locations, which will be open Monday. As of Jan. 31, federal regulators say ANB Financial had about $2.1 billion in assets and $1.8 billion in total deposits. It was the third closure this year of an FDIC-insured bank. Observers have been watching for signs of bank distress resulting from the mortgage crisis. Profits at federally insured U.S. banks and thrifts plunged to a 16-year low in the fourth quarter as institutions set aside a record-high amount to cover losses from sour mortgages. The FDIC plans to beef up its staff, including hiring as many as 25 retired FDIC employees.
MICROSOFT WANTS TO GROW ADS AND SEARCHES: Microsoft Corp. will focus on growing its own advertising and Internet search business after it withdrew its takeover offer for Yahoo Inc., Chairman Bill Gates said Friday. Microsoft has not presented an alternative strategy to compete with its dominant rival in the Internet business, Google Inc., since withdrawing a $47.5 billion bid for Yahoo Inc. last weekend. Analysts have been left wondering how the world's largest software maker will increase its share of that multibillion-dollar market without a major tie-up. Gates said Microsoft remains open to making acquisitions but declined to comment on possible candidates.
USDA SAYS CORN PRODUCTION DECLINES: Corn production this year could be down as much as 7 percent from the record-breaking heights of 2007, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released Friday. The prediction is a foreboding sign for those hoping for a drop in prices. "What's it mean ultimately? High food prices, for sure," said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities in West Des Moines, Iowa, a commodities trading firm. The USDA report projects farmers will harvest about 12 billion bushels of corn this year. About one-third of the harvest will be directed toward ethanol production, the USDA estimates. The revised projections came as wet weather in the Corn Belt slowed plantings, causing the greatest delay since 1995. The USDA reported that only 27 percent of the nation's corn crop had been planted through May 4. Analysts believe Friday's report could extend high corn prices. Prices for the crop have skyrocketed over the past year, lingering for weeks at more than $6 per bushel amid an ethanol boom and more demand for exports. The report also could exacerbate problems for the ethanol industry, which has come under increased fire as global food prices soar.
Never miss a local story.
78: Percentage of workers in the United States and Europe who report Sunday night sleep loss, according to a Monster.com poll that asked whether the thought of going to work on Monday affects their Sunday night sleep.
1: Rank of work as the most frequent source of stress, according to a poll conducted by the American Psychological Association.
UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE