Sept. 20 - Summary of business headlines: Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker questions impact of Fed's bond buying program; Stocks end narrowly mixed on tepid economic data; Wal-Mart blows out flame on Kindle; Facebook “Offers” a hint at new revenue stream. Conway G. Gittens reports.
A bit of a struggle on Wall Street amid fresh signs of a stalling economy, the Dow was little changed to the upside but the rest of the market was little changed to the downside. Let's start with the Kindle. Amazon's tablet device new and old won't be on shelves at Wal-Mart or Walmart.com. According to an internal memo, confirmed by Wal-Mart, Kindles will no longer be sold by the retailer beyond the existing inventory. This follows a similar move by rival Target five months ago. Traditional retailers are seeing Amazon and its online retail empire as more of a foe than friend. Facebook will start charging retailers and businesses to participate in Offers. This is its once free program launched earlier this year, which allows retailers and other merchants to send deals and coupons to their Facebook friends. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been under pressure to find new revenue streams for the biggest social network. In economic news: Business activity in the Mid-Atlantic region contracted for a fifth straight month.... Jobless claims remained stuck near two-month highs. And a separate gauge of future economic activity dipped in September. Those numbers pump up the debate on whether the Federal Reserve's new bond buying program is the right thing. Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker: SOUNDBITE: FORMER FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN PAUL VOLCKER (ENGLISH) SAYING: "They are pumping more liquidity into the economy. Obviously they have reached the limits of action that has a dramatic effect. You've got interest rates at zero in the short term, you've got long term bond rates at almost unimaginably low levels, so they haven't got a lot of...the normal leverage, has been to some extent, has been somewhat been exhausted." Bank of America now plans to cut 16,000 jobs by the end of the year, according to the Wall Street Journal. This speeds up the second largest U.S. bank's plan to slash 30,000 jobs all together. Rounding out the day with a look at Europe - stocks were down across the board amid growing signs of global economic weakness. Conway Gittens, Reuters