Google removes background picture from homepage

About a week ago, Google started allowing users to add a customized background picture on the Google homepage, or to choose a pre-designed background created by partners.

The company made the feature clear via a simple text explanation, but not everyone saw the tip as a result of a programming bug, causing people to think Google had permanently changed its home page background.

The feature also proved unpopular among many people, prompting the company to remove the auto background picture; going back to the original simple and white background for now.

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SEC approves policy to halt trading on S&P 500 stocks during extreme volatility

On May 6, an apparent erroneous trading error caused the Dow Jones index to lose about 1,000 points, or nearly 9-percent of its total value, in about only a half an hours time.

During that time period, $862-billion was lost, with most of the capital being recovered in the next trading day when security values were pushed back up to prices better reflecting fair value.

The free fall was caused by an apparent trading error, that was made by an equities trader who mistakenly entered a “b” (indicating billion) for a futures trade on the Procter and Gamble stock (NYSE:PG), instead of the correct “m” (indicating million) button.

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BMW Group reports strong net sale gains across all brands in May

New 2010 BMW 5-Series

The luxury German carmaker, BMW, today released sales figures for the month of May 2010.

The company reported strong year over year gains in sales for select brands and models, including the super expensive Rolls-Royce Ghost that saw sales grow by more than 330-percent compared to the same period last year, as global economies slowly recover from the credit crisis.

The BMW brand sold 101,775 vehicles in May 2010, marking a significant 12.3-percent increase over May 2009.

The BMW 7-Series and the company’s new 5-Series models helped fuel sales.

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Walmart to offer banking services June 15 in Canada

The world’s largest retailer, Walmart, has announced it would launch a bank in Canada on June 15 after the U.S.-based retail giant received regulatory approval in Canada.

Walmart firstly applied with the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), among other regulatory bodies, to offer financial services including interest-earning deposits in Canada almost two years ago.

Walmart’s business model has always been to offer lower prices compared to its competitors by moving more volume.

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Yahoo promotes chief architect as new company CTO

The Yahoo board has appointed Dr. Raymie Stata as the top technology executive at the company, promoting him to Chief Technology Officer (CTO), from his previous position as Chief Architect at the company.

Prior to joining Yahoo, Dr. Raymie Stata founded Stata Laboratories, a firm that developed a web-based email client along with advanced anti-spam filter technologies, that was acquired by Yahoo in 2004. He has worked at the company since the acquisition.

The new position is effective immediately.

Mr. Ari Balogh was the preceding CTO at Yahoo after he announced he would resign as CTO for personal reasons. His resignation went into effect today. He was with Yahoo since the summer of 2008.

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Nielsen files for $1.75bn IPO to mainly pay down debt

The New York City-based market research firm Nielsen Holdings has filed for an initial public offering to raise up to $1.75-billion, according to a SEC filing published today.

The market research company that provides ratings, including television ratings in the U.S. that media firms and advertisers use to establish ad prices based on the Nielsen program ratings, will mainly use the proceeds from the public offering to pay down more than $8,573-million in outstanding debt as at March 31, 2010.

Various financial intermediaries will underwrite the IPO, including New York City-based Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, among other investment banks.

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Google AdMob acquisition clears FTC antitrust inquiry

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has completed an inquiry into the Google AdMob acquisition; after concerns fearing competition in the mobile advertising realm would decline given AdMob has the highest market share in the mobile advertising market.

The FTC said in a statement, “[it] was concerned about the loss of head-to-head competition,” given Google has about 65-percent of the global online search market, and is also the market leader when it comes to online advertising.

The FTC said its decision to clear the acquisition was based on Apple announcing it would enter the space with iAd, and its acquisition of Quattro Wireless.

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GM to announce $250mn plant investment in St. Catharines, Ontario

A source today confirmed to us General Motors tomorrow is scheduled to announce a massive investment of $500-million in the city of St. Catharines, Ontario, in Canada, as part of a plan to produce a new vehicle transmission system.

The source provided the information on condition of anonymity, as they were not permitted to disclose the information.

The capital will be used to design and manufacture a new efficient transmission that would be used in select new GM models.

The announcement will be made tomorrow by GM at the plant, with a ceremony that will include GM Canada president Kevin Williams, and Industry Minister Tony Clement, among other officials.

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Bombardier signs $241mn train contract in Saudi Arabia

Bombardier monorail Saudi Arabia concept, Courtesy Bombardier

The Canadian aviation and train giant, Bombardier, announced today it has signed an agreement worth $241-million to provide a monorail system in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The contract marks the first project for the Canadian company in the country.

The monorail will stretch up to 3.6km with six stations, and will be operate on a fully automated basis. The entire system will include 12 cars in total and will be situated in the heart of the city’s growing financial district.

Bombardier will be responsible for the implementation of the entire project, including manufacturing the locomotives, installation, and testing, and continued maintenance for up to ten years starting when the system is functional.

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Canadian economy improving as real GDP has record gain

Statistics Canada has released a new report today confirming Canada’s real GDP increased by 1.5-percent in Q1 ’10, beating analyst expectations, and marking the seventh consecutive monthly gain.

The increase marks the biggest year over year gain since at least over ten years ago. The Canadian GDP took a hit over the last couple of years, including negative quarterly GDP change in part of 2008 and 2009, during the global economic down turn that saw consumption spending and home prices fall.

In the first quarter of this year, GDP growth was largely attributable to significant gains in production and inventory levels.

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