Japan Video Games Blog


Hey guys and gals! We FIND and PROMOTE people's work, we never take credit for things we haven't written, we just love sharing the things that are interesting, but if you don't want your work or pictures shown, please let me know and I'll take it off, we're not trying to harm any one here or infringe on anyone's copyrights, just late night entertainment for my friends and I after a long days of work.

We're not making money off the site, nor are we publishing anything to other places through feedburner claiming that it's our work, just a hobby of finding cool things around the internet, that's all. Sometimes we copy and paste too quickly and a link giving you credit doesn't appear, if that's the case and you DO want your work promoted, we will add in the backlink, we would love to give credit where credit is due!

Please contact me or drop a comment on any posts you guys don't want up and I'll take it off within 24 hours, thanks!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bloomberg.com: Worldwide

July 31 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. economy shrank at the end of 2007 and grew less than forecast in this year's second quarter, signaling that the country is in worse shape than investors had anticipated.

``We're in a recession,'' Allen Sinai, chief economist at Decision Economics Inc. in New York, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. ``It's going to widen, it's going to deepen.''

The economy may weaken further as the temporary boost from tax rebates, which aided a pick-up in gross domestic product last quarter from the previous three months, fades. Stocks and the dollar dropped, Treasuries rallied, and traders reduced bets that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this year.

``This confirms the general picture of weakness, but it is surprising that GDP declined,'' said Martin Feldstein, who headed the National Bureau of Economic Research until June and serves on the group's recession-dating panel. He added that today's figures underscored his estimate that a downturn began in December or January. The last time the economy contracted was in 2001.

Gross domestic product increased at a 1.9 percent annualized rate, the Commerce Department said in Washington, compared with the median projection of 2.3 percent in a Bloomberg News survey. The Labor Department said separately that more Americans filed claims for unemployment insurance last week than at any time in more than five years.

Financial Markets

Yields on benchmark 10-year Treasuries dropped to 3.97 percent at 10:47 a.m. in New York, from 4.05 percent late yesterday. The Standard & Poor's 500 Stock Index declined 0.1 percent to 1,283.1. The dollar fell 0.4 percent to $1.5632 per euro.

``As we look forward, we realize we have to grow out of a deeper hole than we thought,'' said Jack Ablin, who helps manage $55 billion as chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank in Chicago. ``We're going to operate at a kind of lackluster growth rate for many quarters to come.''

The smallest trade deficit in seven years, helped by the weakening U.S. dollar, prevented the economy from shrinking again last quarter. The trade gap narrowed to a $395.2 billion annual pace, adding 2.4 percentage points to growth, the most since 1980. Excluding trade, the economy would have contracted at a 0.5 percent pace, the second such decline in the last three quarters.

Exports may have also spurred a gain in the National Association of Purchasing Management-Chicago's business activity index. The group said today its measure increased to 50.8 this month from 49.6 in June. Fifty is the dividing line between growth and contraction.

2009 Recovery

``Exports are making the difference between a near recession, or mild recession, and a deep recession,'' Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at Global Insight Inc., a Lexington, Massachusetts, forecasting firm, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. ``We don't really see a recovery until some time in the spring or summer'' of 2009 for the economy, he said.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance jumped by 44,000 to 448,000, the Labor Department said today. The department tomorrow may say payrolls declined by 75,000 in July, bringing total job losses so far this year to over 500,000.

Annual benchmark revisions showed consumer spending slowed more than previously estimated and the housing slump worsened. The economy shrank 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter last year, compared with a previously reported 0.6 percent gain.

First-quarter figures were also revised down to show a 0.9 pace of growth compared with a prior estimate of 1 percent.

Economists' Forecasts

The median forecast of economists for the second quarter GDP figures was based on 79 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Today's report is the first for the period and will be revised in August and September as more information becomes available.

Declines in growth in the revisions are reinforcing the recession signals sent by the loss of jobs so far this year. Still, a downturn is unlikely to be officially declared for months to come.

The NBER, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based arbiter of economic cycles, defines a recession as a ``significant'' decrease in activity over a sustained period of time. The declines would be visible in GDP, payrolls, production, sales and incomes. The NBER usually declares a recession six to 18 months after it begins.

Bush would become the first president since Richard Nixon to have two recessions while in office, after the downturn from March to November of 2001.

The housing slump continued to hurt the economy, even as the decline moderated. Residential construction dropped at a 15.6 percent annual pace after dropping 25.1 percent in the first three months of the year. The decline detracted 0.6 percentage point from growth, the smallest reduction in more than two years.

Consumer Spending

Consumer spending last quarter grew at a 1.5 percent pace, less than anticipated, compared with a 0.9 percent gain in the January-to-March period that was the smallest in 13 years.

Most economists are forecasting the lift from the rebates will fade in the second half of the year. Retail sales rose 0.1 percent in June, less than forecast, indicating consumers may already have started to retrench at the end of the quarter.

Shoppers are hunting for bargains to stretch the buying power of the stimulus checks. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the largest retailer, said same-store sales in June rose 5.8 percent, the biggest increase in four years, as costumers spent the rebate money on discounted gasoline and food.

`Struggling' Americans

``At times like now, when the average American is struggling with the cost of everyday needs, price matters,'' Eduardo Castro- Wright, chief executive officer of Wal-Mart's U.S. stores division, told shareholders last month.

The price index in today's report rose at an annual rate of 1.1 percent, the smallest increase since 1998 and down from 2.6 percent in the first quarter.

Investors are betting the Fed will keep the benchmark rate unchanged at 2 percent at its Aug. 5 meeting, according to federal funds futures contracts. Odds of an increase by year-end fell to about 60 percent today from 69 percent yesterday, futures prices showed.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Bloomberg.com: U.S.

July 31 (Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's biggest oil company, posted a smaller increase in second-quarter profit than analysts estimated after production slid the most in at least a decade, sending its shares lower.

Oil and gas output tumbled 7.8 percent after Venezuela seized assets, Nigerian workers went on strike and governments from Angola to Russia kept more crude under contracts that give them a bigger share when prices rise. Crude climbed above $140 a barrel for the first time, allowing Exxon Mobil to achieve the highest profit ever for a U.S. company without one-time gains.

Net income rose to $11.7 billion, or $2.22 a share, from $10.3 billion, or $1.83, a year earlier, the Irving, Texas-based company said today in a statement. Excluding costs related to the Valdez oil-spill lawsuit, per-share profit was 26 cents below the average of 12 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

``They are not growing,'' said Philip Weiss, an analyst at Argus Research in New York who rates Exxon Mobil shares ``buy'' and owns none. ``Production is becoming more and more of a concern. For these guys, access to reserves is a very big issue.''

Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson, 56, is spending $52 million a day to search for new fields after reserves fell in 2007 by the most in at least a decade. Exxon Mobil plans to start 12 projects this year that will pump the equivalent of 411,000 barrels of crude a day, more than the daily output of Prudhoe Bay, the largest U.S. oil field.

Refining Profit Falls

Record energy prices inflated costs for Exxon Mobil plants that process crude and natural gas into fuels and chemicals. Profits from refining and chemicals fell 54 percent and 32 percent, respectively. U.S. gasoline futures rose at less than half the pace of crude during the quarter.

Exxon Mobil fell $2.68, or 3.2 percent, to $81.70 at 12:02 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shortfall in earnings per share relative to analyst estimates was the company's biggest in at least three years. The stock has dropped 13 percent this year.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe's largest oil producer, today reported a 33 percent gain in second-quarter profit to $11.6 billion. London-based BP Plc said earlier this week that its net income climbed 28 percent to $9.47 billion. Shell's output fell 1.6 percent, and BP's was little changed from a year earlier.

Chevron Corp., the second-biggest U.S. oil company, and France's Total SA are scheduled to report earnings tomorrow. ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. petroleum producer, said last week that its profit jumped to a record $5.44 billion.

Production Falls

Exxon Mobil pumped the equivalent of 3.8 million barrels of oil a day, its lowest average since the third quarter of 2005. Crude production declined in every region where the company has wells, and gas output fell everywhere except Russia, Europe and Africa. Production-sharing contracts with price triggers took away 160,000 barrels of daily oil equivalent, company spokesman Henry Hubble told investors on a conference call.

Profit from oil and gas sales climbed 68 percent to $10 billion.

``If oil prices are going up $20 and $30 a barrel a quarter like they have been, it hides a lot of flaws,'' said Brian Gibbons, an analyst at New York-based CreditSights Inc. ``The question on everyone's mind is, how do these guys expect to grow production given the restrictions on access to reserves?''

Tillerson, who succeeded Lee Raymond as CEO in January 2006, is facing increasing barriers to oil and gas exploration in Russia, Alaska and the South China Sea as governments limit access or raise the costs of tapping natural resources.

Price Impact

New York oil futures, which had never traded as high as $112 before the second quarter, surged to a record $143.67 in June. Each $1 gain in the price of oil boosts Exxon Mobil's net income by 11 cents a share, according to William Featherston, an analyst at UBS Securities LLC.

Natural gas rose even faster than oil in this year's first half, and the average second-quarter price jumped 50 percent to $11.47 per million British thermal units. Exxon Mobil's output is about 60 percent crude and 40 percent gas. Oil and gas sales account for more than 80 percent of profit.

Exxon said its second-quarter revenue jumped 40 percent to $138.1 billion. The company said it had $290 million in after- tax costs related to the June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that reduced a punitive damage award for the 1989 Valdez spill from $2.5 billion.

Exxon Mobil generates about $27 of cash flow from each barrel of production, 21 percent higher than the industry average, Gibbons said. The company was the most efficient oil and gas producer among its peers, yielding almost $3 of cash flow for every $1 spent, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Carroll in Houston at jcarroll8@bloomberg.net.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Mortgage rates drop as commodities ease - Jul. 31, 2008

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Mortgage rates fell slightly this week according to a weekly report released Wednesday, as lower oil prices briefly ease fears of price inflation.

The Primary Mortgage Market Survey from mortgage finance company Freddie Mac said that rates of 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) averaged 6.52% for the week ended July 31 with an average 0.7 point discount, down from an average 6.63% last week, and down from an average of 6.68% recorded during the same week last year.

The 15-year FRM averaged 6.07% this week with an average of 0.6 point, down from 6.18% last week, and down from 6.32% last year.

A point, or "discount point," can be purchased at the time of closing to decrease the mortgage rate. Each point costs 1% of the loan amount and each point that a borrower purchases lowers the the loan interest rate.

Five-year adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) averaged 6.07% this week, with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 6.16%. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 6.29%.

One-year ARMs averaged 5.27% this week with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it was 5.49%. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 5.59%.

"Mortgage rates moved lower this week as a drop in commodity prices eased market concerns over inflation pressures," said Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft in a statement.

The price of gasoline at the pump continued to fall below $4 a gallon as crude oil prices have fallen nearly $23 a barrel over the past several weeks from its peak of $147.27 on July 11.

"Yes, there is some influence in hope for less inflation pressure, but we'd need a more extended period of these softening prices" to see a significant decline, said Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSHAssociates.com, an online publisher of consumer loan information. To top of page

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Jobless claims surge to 5-year high - Jul. 31, 2008

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Jobless claims rose to their highest level in five years last week, the latest evidence that Americans are still having a hard time finding a job.

The Department of Labor reported Thursday initial filings for state jobless benefits increased by a seasonally adjusted 44,000 to 448,000 in the week ended July 26.

Unemployment claims rose much more than had been expected. The consensus estimate of economists surveyed by Briefing.com was for claims to come in at 395,000.

Last week marked the highest total for weekly jobless claims since the week ending April 19, 2003. It was the highest week-to-week increase in jobless claims since the week ending September 10, 2005.

That rise sent the four-week moving average of new jobless claims up 11,000 to 393,000.

The weekly jobless claims report also showed continued unemployment insurance claims from those already receiving benefits rose in the week ended July 19 to 3.28 million, up 185,000 from the previous week.

The four-week moving average for continued claims rose by 42,750 to 3.17 million.

Not quite as bad as it seems

The rise in new unemployment claims was sharp, but this tends to be a choppy time for claims. On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, initial claims actually fell for the second straight week.

"It's summer, when initial claims are traditionally very volatile," said Adam York, an economist with Wachovia.

Furthermore, President Bush signed a bill last month that extends unemployment benefits to as much as 13 weeks for some. In an effort to notify hundreds of thousands of Americans about the extension, the Labor Department discovered many were eligible for initial unemployment claims - not just an extension of benefits.

The Labor Department said some of these people had intervening wages such as a temporary summer job that qualified them to reapply for jobless insurance benefits. As a result, the government said many valid claimants who did not previously know they were eligible applied for new benefits.

That makes the number a bit difficult to compare to previous weeks.

"Nevertheless, these numbers are clearly very weak," York added. "We're not in a situation that we can't dig ourselves out of, but we're not going to rebound very quickly either."

The latest claims reading comes on the heels of a report out Wednesday that showed the private sector unexpectedly added 9,000 jobs in July. The ADP employment report had been forecast to show a large decline.

Both the weekly jobless claims report and the ADP payrolls survey come ahead of the more closely watched employment report from the Labor Department, which is due out Friday. The report is expected to show that employers cut jobs for a seventh straight month. The unemployment rate is expected to rise to 5.6%. To top of page

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Altria profit edges estimates, cigarette volume down - Forbes.com

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Altria Group (nyse: MO - news - people ) Inc posted a second-quarter profit Thursday that slightly beat Wall Street estimates, helped by higher prices, but the number of cigarettes shipped by its Philip Morris USA unit fell more than some analysts expected.

The pace of the shipment decline also accelerated from the first quarter, the opposite of what rival Reynolds American (nyse: RAI - news - people ) Inc reported on Wednesday, and Altria's stock lost more than 5 percent.

"Price increases accelerated the volume decline seen in the first quarter," Gregg Warren, an analyst at Morningstar said.

Altria shares also may have been pressured because the House passed a bill that would give the Food and Drug Administration broad authority to regulate cigarettes and other forms of tobacco, Warren said.

But the White House said advisers would recommend the president veto the bill, and Philip Morris USA has actually supported the legislation.

The parent of Marlboro cigarette maker Philip Morris USA said profit from continuing operations was 45 cents a share in the second quarter, compared with 34 cents a share a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, earnings were 46 cents a share, compared with the 45-cent average analyst estimate compiled by Reuters Estimates.

Altria spun off the Philip Morris International tobacco business at the end of March, so net income fell to $930 million, or 45 cents a share, from $2.22 billion, or $1.05 a share, a year earlier.

The company also stood by its full-year profit forecast, with price increases and lower expenses helping to boost earnings from continuing operations.

That forecast calls for earnings from continuing operations of $1.63 to $1.67 a share, while the average analyst estimate is $1.67 a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue rose 4 percent to $5.05 billion.

Revenue, excluding excise taxes, was $4.18 billion, compared with the average analyst estimate of $4.03 billion compiled by Reuters Estimates.

Philip Morris USA's cigarette market share rose to 51 percent from 50.5 percent a year earlier, with the top-selling Marlboro brand commanding 41.8 percent of the U.S. market, up from 41 percent a year earlier.

The company shipped 43.6 billion cigarettes in the quarter, down 4.5 percent from a year earlier. Shipment volume fell only 1.2 percent in the first quarter.

That decline was steeper than some analysts had expected.

Blogged with the Flock Browser