Industrial real estate improves

Long Island's industrial real estate market picked up in the first quarter of 2013 as more than twice as much space was leased compared to a year earlier, a report said yesterday. Companies signed new leases totaling 995,000 square feet, a 133-percent increase over the 427,121 leased during the same period last year, the report by real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield said. First-quarter leasing has averaged 705,000 square feet over the past five years. Nearly a third of the activity was due to leases signed by real estate firm Basser-Kaufman and electronic supply and services company Wesco. Long Island's office market was up as well, with 467,000 square feet leased compared to 316,693 during the first quarter of 2012. -- Ted Phillips


Google seen as a bellwether

Google's latest quarterly results provide further proof that the Internet search leader is figuring out how to make more money as Web surfers migrate from personal computers to mobile devices. First-quarter numbers released yesterday show a recent decline in Google's average ad prices is easing; that's an indication marketers are starting to pay more for the ads Google distributes to smartphones and tablet computers. Google Inc. earned $3.3 billion, or $9.94 per share, during the first three months of the year, up 16 percent from $2.9 billion, or $8.75 per share, last year. Google is a good way to monitor the health of digital commerce because it runs the Internet's largest advertising network and is now a major player in the mobile computing market.

March economy index sputters

A measure of the U.S. economy's health over the next six months declined slightly in March from February, a sign that growth may slow this spring. The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators dipped 0.1 percent in March to 94.7. That's the first decline after three months of gains. The gauge is designed to anticipate economic conditions three to six months out. Declines in consumer confidence, housing permits and new orders for manufactured goods pushed down the index. "Data for March reflect an economy that has lost some steam," said Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein.

Microsoft logs strong quarter

Microsoft's revenue and net income surged in the latest quarter, but much of the gains were due to the recognition of sales that occurred before the launch of the latest versions of Windows and Office, the company said yesterday. The company's net income was $6.1 billion, or 72 cents per share, in its fiscal third quarter, which ended in March, up from $5.1 billion, or 60 cents per share, a year ago. Microsoft launched Windows 8 in October, hoping to make PCs work more like tablets. But the reception has been mixed, and research firm IDC said last week that Windows 8 was partly to blame for a record 14 percent drop in global PC shipments in the first quarter, as consumers found the new interface daunting.


Germany says 'nicht' to quota

The German Parliament has rejected an attempt to introduce a quota for women on companies' boards of directors -- defusing for now a divisive issue for Chancellor Angela Merkel's government. Merkel's center-right coalition has long been at odds over whether to introduce a fixed quota, and there are divisions within Merkel's conservative party, too. With elections coming in September, the opposition hoped to exploit that with a vote on a proposal to introduce a 20 percent minimum for women on publicly traded companies' boards in 2018, rising to 40 percent in 2023. Merkel's party scrambled to avoid an embarrassing rebellion, agreeing to pledge in its election manifesto a 30 percent quota from 2020. Yesterday, lawmakers rejected the proposal by a 320-277 margin. -- AP

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