Business briefs: Microsoft announces OneNote upgrades
LOS ANGELES – Microsoft Corp. on Monday released a version of its OneNote note-taking software for Macs and added new features and a free tier for all of the software’s users in moves clearly targeted at up-and-coming productivity software rival Evernote.
The moves offer more consumers a taste of its Office 365 suite of software, which normally costs $99 a year. The free version of OneNote keeps some functions that give it an edge over the free tier of Evernote, including offline access to notes and the ability for multiple people to work on the same note simultaneously.
New Microsoft users also get 7 gigabytes of free online storage through its OneDrive cloud storage service. Free Evernote users are limited to uploading 60 megabytes of data per month. Evernote’s premium users, who pay $45 a year, can upload 1 GB of data per month.
Alibaba stake lifting Yahoo
SAN FRANCISCO – Yahoo is getting another lift from its stake in China’s Alibaba Group, a thriving Internet company that has helped mask Yahoo’s own financial funk.
Investors latched on to Yahoo on Monday in anticipation of a huge windfall from Alibaba’s initial public offering of stock later this year. Alibaba triggered the latest wave of excitement about its forthcoming IPO with a Sunday announcement of its intention to list its stock on a U.S. exchange instead of in Hong Kong. The precise timing of the IPO is still unclear, although the documents for the filing are expected to be filed within the next six months.
Yahoo’s stock gained $1.51, or 4 percent, to close Monday at $39.11. The shares have nearly doubled in the past year, primarily because Yahoo’s 24 percent stake in Alibaba has been the only way for most investors to buy a slice of a company that is likened to China’s version of eBay and Amazon.com. Yahoo now boasts a market value of $39 billion – most of which analysts estimate is tied to Alibaba’s success.
Eurozone deflation fears grow
LONDON – Pressure on the European Central Bank to do more to prevent prices from falling in the 18-country eurozone ratcheted up Monday after figures showed inflation across the region unexpectedly fell in February to its lowest level since October.
Figures released Monday by the Eurostat statistics agency showed consumer prices were 0.7 percent higher in February than the year before. That was lower than the 0.8 percent initial estimate and took the annual rate down to the level it was in October, which was the lowest level since late 2009.
The figures are likely to reinforce concerns in the markets that the eurozone risks suffering a bout of deflation, or falling prices. Deflation can hurt an economy by encouraging consumers and businesses to delay spending in the hope of cheaper bargains further down the line.
The inflation rate, which is way below the level the ECB’s target of just below 2 percent, also comes at a time when the euro has been buoyant in currency markets.
Airline halts Venezuela flights
CARACAS, Venezuela – Air Canada suspended its flights to and from Venezuela due to civil unrest.
The airline said Monday it can no longer ensure the safety of its operation in Venezuela, which has been roiled by daily street protests over crime and a deteriorating economy for more than a month.
The airline’s last flight left Caracas on Sunday. It is refunding those who purchased tickets for flights after that.