BlackRock and Fidelity Partnership
A new strategic alliance announced on Wednesday between BlackRock Inc (BLK) and
Fidelity Investments will give Fidelity’s 10 million customers increased and
improved access to iShares ETFs. “This exclusive long-term partnership really is
an extension but a broadening and depending of the partnership over the last
three years,” said Kathleen Murphy, president of personal investing at Fidelity
Investments. “We plan to leverage our combined strengths to provide leading ETF
products to our customers.” Fidelity's current commission-free ETF offerings
will more than double - from 30 to 65, with the additions including all 10
iShares Core ETFs - and will create new portfolio strategies using iShares as
the basis for tactically managed investment accounts. The iShares line currently
includes 280 funds. “With current technologies, ETFs don’t really have a place
in the retirement plans, except for through self-directed brokerage accounts,”
explained Mark Wiedman, global head of iShares at BlackRock. “But investors who
want ETFs in their retirement plans want access to those kind of accounts, and
to the extent that iShares will be more readily available without transaction
fees in those accounts through Fidelity, we think [self-directed brokerage
accounts] will become a more attractive option for retirement investors.” The
ETF landscape could be dramatically altered, with this deal.
Street View vehicles from Google Inc. (GOOG) equipped with antennas and
open-source software, collected network ID information, data frames and payload
data transmitted over unsecured business and personal wireless networks as the
cars were driving by. Connecticut led an eight-state executive committee that
worked for two years to investigate the matter. Google has agreed to pay $7
million to settle with 38 U.S. states. “We work hard to get privacy right at
Google. But in this case we didn’t, which is why we quickly tightened up our
systems to address the issue,” a Google spokesperson said in an emailed
statement. “The project leaders never wanted this data, and didn’t use it or
even look at it. We’re pleased to have worked with Connecticut Attorney General
George Jepsen and the other state attorneys general to reach this agreement.” In
addition to the financial settlement, Google is required to offer a
comprehensive employee-education program about the privacy and confidentiality
of user data; sponsor a nationwide public-service campaign to help educate
consumers about securing their wireless networks and protecting personal
information; and, to continue to secure and eventually destroy, data collected
and stored by its Street View vehicles nationwide between 2008 and March 2010.
A consumer advocacy group called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate
allegations that Herbalife (HLF) is a multi-level marketing company.
“Herbalife’s business practices have recently come under intense investor
scrutiny, and NCL is now calling on federal regulators to examine both the
claims lodged against Herbalife and Herbalife’s responses,” the National
Consumers League (NCL) said in a statement on Tuesday.
U.S. Commerce Department reported on Wednesday that U.S. retail sales posted the
largest increase in five months, during February with half the increase taking
place at gas stations, reflecting higher prices at the pump. Excluding gas
stations, sales rose 0.6% and 0.4% minus autos and gas. Gas-station sales were
higher by 5% for the biggest increase since oil prices spiked in August 2012.
During February, sales rose a seasonally adjusted 1.1% or 1.0% excluding the
auto sector. Retail sales are up 4.6% in the past 12 months, slightly more than
double the rate of consumer inflation.
U.S. Labor Department reported on Wednesday that prices paid for goods imported
into the U.S., led by higher fuel prices, rose 1.1% in February, for the second
straight month. Since August, this is the largest increase in overall import
price index and fuel imports. Adding to the picture of subdued inflation, import
prices have declined 0.3% over the past 12 months. During February, imported
fuel prices rose 4.9% and were higher by 13.4% on a year-on-year basis. Over the
past year, nonfuel import prices were up 2.4%. U.S. made exported goods prices
rose 0.8% in February after a 0.3% gain in January.
U.S. Commerce Department reported on Wednesday that business inventories climbed
higher 1.0% in January to a seasonally adjusted $1.64 trillion. For December,
ratio of inventories to sales rose to 1.29 from 1.26.
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