Biz Buzz: Oil Tops $130, Cash Back From Microsoft, and Other Business News

Barrel price for petroleum at a new high.

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Oil Tops $130

Oil prices topped $130 a barrel today in London trading, setting a record. A weaker dollar contributed to the price rise, as the euro traded at above $1.57 in Asia. Oil futures are selling for roughly twice their price of a year ago.

Marianne Lavelle wrote about the summer driving season.

Time Warner Spinoff

Media conglomerate Time Warner said it would spin off Time Warner Cable as a separate company later this year. Time Warner Cable's board approved the terms of the deal, which includes paying a special dividend totaling $10.9 billion to the parent company. The spinoff would allow Time Warner to cut its debt by two thirds and focus its business on movies, TV programming, and magazines.

Cash Back From Microsoft?

Microsoft plans to launch a new service that pays cash back to consumers who buy items they find through the company's Internet search, the Wall Street Journal quoted sources as saying. The newspaper said Microsoft's "Live Search cashback" service was an attempt to compete in search with Google and Yahoo.

HP Reports Strong Earnings

Hewlett-Packard reported an 11 percent jump in revenue, to $28.3 billion, for the quarter ending April 30, compared with a year earlier. With 70 percent of the company's sales coming from abroad, revenues in the Americas grew 2 percent, in the Asia-Pacific region by 16 percent, and in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa by 6 percent, the company said. The fastest revenue growth was in the so-called BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India, and China—which showed 26 percent growth over the prior-year period. Operating profit was up 16 percent overall, to $2.6 billion. Last week, HP agreed to purchase the technology giant Electronic Data Systems for about $14 billion.

Rick Newman reports what HP's deal to buy EDS says about the economy.

AIG's Greenberg May Face Civil Charges

The former chief executive of American International Group, Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, was told by the Securities and Exchange Commission that he may face civil charges for his alleged role in inflating the insurer's financials with fake transactions with the insurer General Re. No charges have been filed against Greenberg, but the SEC sent the so-called Wells notice to him Friday. Greenberg left AIG in 2005 when it came under fire for its accounting practices, and in 2006 the company paid $1.6 billion to settle the allegations.

Dutch Company Fends Off Staples

Dutch office supply company Corporate Express said today it would buy its privately held French competitor Lyreco, making it the biggest business-to-business power in Europe, North America, and Asia, with $12 billion in combined sales and 28,000 employees. The deal appears to be a move to fend off Framingham, Mass.-based Staples. Corporate Express has rebuffed takeover bids by Staples.