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Economy Briefs: Google plans small tablet to challenge Kindle Fire


Hugo Barra, director of Google product management, shows off the new Google Nexus 7 tablet Wednesday. (Associated Press)

SAN FRANCISCO — Google will sell a small tablet computer bearing its brand in a challenge to Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

The Nexus 7 is designed specifically for Google Play, the online store that sells movies, music, books, apps and other content - the things Inc. also sells for its tablet computer.

Both tablets have screens that measure 7 inches diagonally, smaller than the nearly 10 inches on Apple Inc.’s popular iPad. The Nexus 7 will ship in mid-July starting at $199 - the same price as the Kindle Fire. By contrast, iPads start at $499.


Facebook slides amid mixed underwriter reviews

NEW YORK — The Wall Street analysts who know Facebook best are giving the company’s stock a mixed review. Think: like, not love.

A flood of analyst reports from 33 banks gave Facebook’s stock a mix of “neutral” and “buy” ratings Wednesday. And there was at least one review that equated to a “sell” rating.

It marked the end of the 40-day quiet period following Facebook’s initial public offering.

Facebook’s much-ballyhooed IPO landed with a thud on May 18, with the stock closing just 23 cents above its $38 IPO price. It hasn’t fared much better since. On Wednesday, the stock fell 87 cents to close at $32.23.


Italy’s borrowing costs higher at bond auction

ROME — Italy’s borrowing costs on its six-month bonds jumped Wednesday to the highest level since December in the face of German opposition to Premier Mario Monti’s call for joint action to ease Europe’s debt crisis.

The Italian treasury sold off $11.23 billion in short-term bonds but the interest rate it had to pay rose to 2.96 percent from 2.10 percent a month ago. The rate was also the highest since the end of 2011, when Italy was at the forefront of Europe’s debt concerns.

The auction came a day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly told German lawmakers there won’t be a fully shared debt liability in Europe “as long as I live.”


Exxon CEO says climate, energy fears overblown

NEW YORK — ExxonMobil Corp. CEO Rex Tillerson says fears about climate change, drilling and energy dependence are overblown and society’s ability to adapt is underestimated.

Mr. Tillerson blamed a public that is “illiterate” in science and math, a “lazy” press, and advocacy groups that “manufacture fear” for energy misconceptions in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations.

He noted that huge discoveries of oil and gas in North America have reversed a 20-year decline in U.S. oil production in recent years.

In a break with predecessor Lee Raymond, Mr. Tillerson has acknowledged that global temperatures are rising. “Clearly there is going to be an impact,” he said Wednesday.

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