Microsoft will buy Skype for $8.5 billion in cash. ¶Reaction among analysts — including some via Skype — ranged from calling the deal “a game changer” to dismissing it as “not a game changer.” ¶ Naysayers say Microsoft paid too much for Skype. ¶ Other analysts say the free-calling service, with 170 million users, will grow as Microsoft weaves the online communications tool through its Office applications, Xbox games and Windows-based smartphones. ¶ Microsoft’s payoff? Skype will give the slow-footed giant a big turbo-boost in the race for Internet consumers and businesses that it’s been losing to Google, Apple and Facebook.

Microsoft will buy Skype for $8.5 billion in cash.

Reaction among analysts — including some via Skype — ranged from calling the deal “a game changer” to dismissing it as “not a game changer.”

Naysayers say Microsoft paid too much for Skype.

Other analysts say the free-calling service, with 170 million users, will grow as Microsoft weaves the online communications tool through its Office applications, Xbox games and Windows-based smartphones.

Microsoft’s payoff? Skype will give the slow-footed giant a big turbo-boost in the race for Internet consumers and businesses that it’s been losing to Google, Apple and Facebook.

Business

LinkedIn will sell its stock for $32 to $35 per share in an upcoming initial public offering that may encourage other growing Internet services to make their stock market debuts during the next year.

More than 2.7 million Ford F-150 pickup trucks could have a fuel tank problem. Steel straps holding up the truck’s gas tank can rust and break, possibly causing a spill and catching fire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it’s investigating.

Sprint Nextel chief executive Dan Hesse told lawmakers that permitting the merger of telecom companies AT&T and T-Mobile would be the end of his company in its current form.

RLJ Lodging Trust, a Bethesda-based hotel company started by Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson, made its debut as a public company, with its stock closing at $17.68 per share, slightly down from the initial public offering price of $18.

Playdom, operator of Internet games My Diva Dolls and Pony Stars, agreed to pay $3 million to settle a complaint brought by the Federal Trade Commission for violating online privacy laws for children. The FTC said Playdom, which operates 20 “virtual world” games, collected personal information about 403,000 children under age 13 without asking for their parents’ consent.

Facebook admitted it is behind a public relations campaign to highlight what it said were privacy concerns in Google’s “Social Circle” feature. PR giant Burson-Marsteller pitched a story to media outlets saying the feature violates Federal Trade Commission rules and does not grant users enough control over their personal data.

Economy

After listening to 66 taped conversations over 12 days, jurors convicted hedge fund billionaire Raj Rajaratnam on all 14 counts of fraud and conspiracy in the biggest insider-trading case in a generation.

The Treasury Department will begin unloading its 92.1 percent ownership stake in global insurance giant American International Group. AIG said in a statement that it plans to sell 300 million shares. At least 200 million of those will come from the Treasury’s stockpile of 1.66 billion shares.

Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) introduced a “do not track” privacy bill that would allow consumers to block online companies from following their activity on the Internet. In the House, Reps. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Tex.) issued the draft of a bill aimed at stopping the tracking of children through their Internet use.

Vanguard is making its target-date retirement mutual funds more accessible to small investors by cutting the required minimum initial investment to $1,000 from $3,000.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke cautioned lawmakers against using the federal debt limit as a “bargaining chip” during budget talks.

Retail sales rose 0.5 percent in April, the smallest gain since July.

Applications for jobless benefits decreased 44,000 in the week ended May 7 to 434,000.

The consumer price index increased 0.4 percent in April and prices have risen 3.2 percent in the past year. The producer price index rose 0.8 percent.

State attorneys general and federal regulators, meeting in Washington, continued to hammer out the details of a settlement with representatives of the nation’s largest mortgage servicers, who remain under fire for flawed paperwork and other shoddy foreclosure practices.

The Treasury Department has decided to hold off on further sales of the stock it owns in General Motors until August at the earliest, according to two people familiar with the GM situation.

The Republican-controlled House passed a measure that would open up areas off the West and East coasts, Alaska and the eastern Gulf of Mexico to drilling.

Government investigators are conducting a criminal probe into whether Google profited by running ads from illegal online pharmacies, federal officials said. The company said in an earnings filing that it had set aside $500 million related to a Justice Department investigation into its advertising practices.

Standard & Poor’s Financial Services and Moody’s won a federal appeals court ruling upholding their dismissals from lawsuits seeking to hold them liable in the marketing of mortgage-backed securities.

Earnings

Nissan, allied with Renault of France, reported a $380 million profit for January-March, a turnaround from a $143 million loss a year earlier.

Toyota, battered by Japan’s natural disaster and strong yen, reported that its quarterly profit plunged to $314 million, dropping 77 percent from a year earlier.

Macy’s reported a quarterly profit of $131 million and revenue of $5.88 billion.

Nordstrom said it earned $145 million in the quarter, a 25 percent increase.

Temporary theme park closures in Japan and poor box-office performance of animated movies hurt Walt Disney’s quarterly profit, which fell 3.3 percent.

Deals

Hertz offered to buy Dollar Thrifty for $2.24 billion in cash and stock, countering a bid by Avis.

Groupon and LiveNation, the parent company of Ticketmaster, have teamed up to offer deals on concerts, sports events and other live attractions.

Wal-Mart is buying a minority stake in online marketer Yihaodian as it looks to tap into growing online sales in China. Terms of the deal and the size of the stake were not disclosed.

Yum Brands — owner of Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC chains — said it is formally offering to buy most of the remaining shares of Chinese hot pot chain Little Sheep. Restaurant growth overseas, particularly in China, has been a key driver for Yum’s profit growth.

Transitions

Sheila C. Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., plans to leave her post July 8, after her first term expires.

Meredith Attwell Baker will leave the Federal Communications Commission to join NBC Universal as a lobbyist, months after the FCC — including Baker, one of two Republicans on the five-member panel — voted to approve Comcast’s takeover of the company.

$11.4 billion
China’s April trade surplus

The U.S. reported a trade deficit: $48.2 billion. China’s unexpectedly large surplus was released as high-level talks with China concluded in Washington. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said there was a “healthy recognition” among Chinese officials that they need to open more aspects of their economy to outside investment.

$11.4 billion
China’s April trade surplus

The U.S. reported a trade deficit: $48.2 billion. China’s unexpectedly large surplus was released as high-level talks with China concluded in Washington. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said there was a “healthy recognition” among Chinese officials that they need to open more aspects of their economy to outside investment.