After years of rumors, Amazon.com might finally be getting into the smartphone business.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Seattle e-commerce giant will release a smartphone in the second half of the year, citing people briefed on the company’s plans. Those people said Amazon plans to announce the phone by the end of June and begin shipping units by the end of September.
A smartphone would be the latest hardware addition for Amazon, which already competes against Apple and Samsung in the tablet space with its Kindle Fire. Its newly announced Kindle Fire TV is an Internet video-streaming set-top box that is going up against the likes of Apple TV, Roku and Google Chromecast. If Amazon follows its tablet and e-reader pricing model, consumers can expect a mid-priced smartphone.
The Journal said Amazon has been demonstrating versions of the phone to developers in recent weeks. The phone reportedly features a screen capable of displaying 3-D images without special glasses.
Amazon didn’t immediately return a call or e-mail for comment. Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.
— Los Angeles Times
U.S. stocks slid in a volatile session Friday, with the Nasdaq closing below the 4000 mark for the first time since early February.
For the week, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell 2.6 percent and the Nasdaq lost 3.1 percent, the biggest weekly decline for both indexes since June 2012.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 143.47 points or 0.9 percent, to end at 16,026.75. The S&P lost 17.39 points or 0.9 percent, to finish at 1815.69. The Nasdaq composite dropped 54.38 points or 1.3 percent, to close at 3999.73.
JPMorgan Chase shares fell 3.7 percent to close at $55.30. The stock was the biggest drag on the S&P after the bank reported a far weaker-than-expected quarterly profit as revenue from securities trading fell.
The Nasdaq biotech index fell 2.8 percent after rising as much as 1 percent earlier. The Global X social media index, which includes Facebook and LinkedIn , slid 2.3 percent. Facebook shares fell 1.1 percent to $58.53. LinkedIn shares lost 2.5 percent to end at $165.78.
In contrast to the day’s sharp downturn, shares of Wells Fargo rose 0.8 percent to $48.08 after the biggest U.S. mortgage lender reported a 14 percent increase in first-quarter net profit.
Shares of Herbalife sold off late in the day after the Financial Times reported that the Justice Department and the FBI had launched a probe into the company. The stock tumbled 14 percent to close at $51.48. Herbalife denied the report.
● Passengers sailing from the Port of Baltimore on the Grandeur of the Seas have been sickened on two consecutive trips, federal health officials said. The most recent outbreak occurred on the Royal Caribbean International vessel, which left Baltimore last Saturday for a seven-day cruise to the Bahamas, Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said Friday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on its Web site that about 100 passengers and crew members fell ill with vomiting and diarrhea. Martinez said a norovirus was believed to be the cause. More than 100 passengers and crew members got sick on the Grandeur’s previous cruise from Baltimore from March 28 to April 5, the CDC said, blaming norovirus.
● Southwest Airlines said one of the pilots of a plane that landed at the wrong Missouri airport in January has retired and the other has returned to duty. While confirming that the captain of the flight was back at work and the first officer had elected to retire, spokeswoman Brandy King declined to say which pilot was in control when the flight landed.
● Exxon Mobil’s CEO received compensation worth $28.1 million last year, a 3 percent increase over the previous year, according to an Associated Press analysis of a company regulatory filing. Most of Rex W. Tillerson’s compensation was in the form of stock awards, which the oil company valued at $21.3 million when they were granted. His overall compensation for 2013 was up from $27.2 million in 2012, the AP had calculated.
● The producer price index, which measures price changes before they reach the consumer, rose 0.5 percent in March, the Labor Department said. Overall inflation remains relatively tame. Producer prices increased 1.4 percent during the past 12 months. Excluding the volatile categories of food, energy, and retailer and wholesaler profit margins, core prices ticked up 0.3 percent.
● Consumer confidence rose this month to the highest level since July, boosted by further improvement in the labor market that will provide some traction for the economy after a weather-related slowdown early this year. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of sentiment climbed to 82.6 this month from a four-month low of 80 in March.
● Geologists in Ohio have for the first time linked earthquakes in a geologic formation deep under the Appalachians to hydraulic fracturing, leading the state to issue new permit conditions Friday in certain areas. A state investigation of five small tremors last month in the Youngstown area, in the Appalachian foothills, found the injection of sand and water that accompanies hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Utica Shale may have increased pressure on a small, unknown fault, said State Oil & Gas Chief Rick Simmers. He called the link “probable.”
● Subway will phase out an ingredient, dubbed the “yoga mat chemical,” from its bread by next week. The disclosure comes as Subway has suffered from an onslaught of bad publicity since a food blogger petitioned the chain to remove the ingredient, azodicarbonamide. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in food as a bleaching agent and dough conditioner. The petition became a flash point by noting that the chemical is also used to make yoga mats.
— From news services
● Monday: Retail sales for March released at 8:30 a.m.; Citigroup earnings.