Daily Briefing


August 13, 2009

Recession pushes debit card spending past credit

NEW YORK - Debit card use was growing rapidly before the economy tanked, but the recession appears to have made them the preferred form of plastic. Both in terms of the number of transactions and the total dollar amount spent, debit cards have overtaken credit cards for U.S. consumers. In dollar terms, debit cards are now used for 50.4 percent of all noncash sales, though they have a lower average dollar amount per transaction, according to research from TowerGroup, a subsidiary of MasterCard Worldwide. Those smaller sales are key: Debit card sales dominate small purchases like those made in convenience stores, coffee shops and gas stations. Big-ticket items like wide-screen TVs are still more often paid for using credit cards, said Brian Riley, a TowerGroup research director and co-author of the study. With credit availability expected to remain tight and new laws restricting the way credit card companies operate soon taking effect, Riley said debit card use will continue to rise.

- Associated Press

Best Buy $9.99 TV offer was too good to be true

NEW YORK - Few if any of the deals retailers have offered online during the recession have been as good as Best Buy Inc.'s sale price of $9.99 on a 52-inch TV Wednesday. But it quickly turned out the offer was too good to be true. The electronics retailer said it will not honor the $9.99 price posted Wednesday morning on its Web site for a 52-inch Samsung flat-screen TV. By early afternoon, the TV was listed at $1,799.99, almost half off the original $3,399.99 price. Bloggers and Twitterers lit up the Internet with posts about the offer, some insisting Best Buy must honor it, others making jokes. Best Buy, based in Richfield, Minn., said it has corrected an online pricing error and will not honor the incorrect price. Orders made Wednesday morning at the incorrect price will be canceled and customers will receive refunds, the company said. Best Buy did not immediately return a call for additional comment.

- Associated Press

Hopkins lab starts work on Space Department building

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel has started constructing a $60 million, five-story Space Department building to consolidate the work of space scientists and engineers who are scattered throughout 20 different buildings, university officials said Wednesday. The 200,000-square-foot complex will open in mid-2011 on Johns Hopkins Road across from APL's 32-building campus. It will house offices and technical facilities and laboratories for about 550 scientists, engineers and support staff. APL's Space Department works on developing space systems for NASA and Defense Department missions.

- Lorraine Mirabella

June trade deficit rises; imports and exports up

WASHINGTON - The U.S. trade deficit edged up in June as imports rose for the first time in 11 months and exports rose for the second straight month, confirming that the global recession is easing its grip. Those were first back-to-back gains for exports in a year. The Commerce Department said the deficit rose 4 percent to $27 billion, from May's $26 billion. The May imbalance was the lowest deficit in nearly a decade.

- Associated Press

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