No keyboard on BlackBerry
The first BlackBerry device running Research In Motion Ltd.’s new operating software will not have a physical keyboard, only a touch-screen one.
The BlackBerry 10 software will be offered on devices with physical keyboards in the future, but RIM spokeswomen Rebecca Freiburger declined to say when. RIM is expected to start selling BlackBerry 10 touch-screen devices this year.
Top-selling smart phones these days, including Apple Inc.’s iPhone and several running Google’s Android software, also lack physical keyboards. But RIM’s attempts in the past to offer touch-only phones did not bring strong sales.
Home sales decline in May
Americans bought fewer homes in May than April, suggesting a sluggish job market could threaten a modest recovery in housing.
The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that sales of previously occupied homes dropped 1.5 percent in May from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.55 million.
Sales have risen 9.6 percent from a year ago, evidence that home sales are slowly improving. Still, the pace has fallen since nearly touching a two-year high in April and remains well below the 6 million that economists consider healthy.
Bed Bath & Beyond disappoints
Bed Bath & Beyond issued a financial outlook below Wall Street’s expectations and fueled concern about shoppers’ ability to spend in what appears to be a slowing economy.
The disappointing earnings outlook came as the chain announced better-than-expected results for the first quarter. But Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. told investors that its gross profit margin declined as it used more coupons to lure shoppers.
U.S. indicators trend positive
A measure of future U.S. economic activity rose in May to the highest level in four years, a sign the economy will keep growing but at a modest pace.
The Conference Board said its index of leading economic indicators rose 0.3 percent last month, after a 0.1 percent drop in April. April’s drop was the first in seven months.
The index is now at 95.8. The last time it was higher was June 2008, six months into the Great Recession. Before the recession, the index routinely topped 100.
Seven of the 10 components of the Conference Board’s index rose last month. The biggest drivers of the increase in the index were building permits, the spread between short-term and long-term interest rates, and an increase in new manufacturing orders, according to a survey by the Institute for Supply Management.
Dow Jones falls 250 points
Stocks took a hard knock as economic reports indicating a slowdown in global manufacturing increased investor anxiety. Data illustrating a slowdown in euro-area manufacturing and Chinese output also contracting pummeled commodities, with oil falling below $80 a barrel and gold prices below $1,600 an ounce.
“We are seeing general weakness, not just here, but around the world. It’s going to be very difficult for us to be an island of prosperity while the global economy is slowing,” said Paul Nolte, managing director at Dearborn Partners in Chicago.
The Dow Jones industrial average retreated 250.82 points, or 2 percent, to 12,573.57.
The S&P 500 index fell 30.18 points, or 2.2 percent, to 1,325.51. Goldman Sachs advised clients to short the S&P 500 on Thursday. The Nasdaq composite fell 71.36 points, or 2.4 percent, to 2,859.09.
Oil futures fell $3.25, or 4 percent, to $78.20 a barrel and gold futures fell $50.30 to close at $1,565.50 an ounce.
Compiled from staff and wire reports