Trade deficit widens, imports and exports decline

WASHINGTON, Tue Dec 11, 2012 — The U.S. trade deficit widened in October as exports suffered the biggest drop in nearly four years, indicating slowing global demand is likely to weigh on U.S. economic growth in the fourth quarter.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday the trade gap increased 4.9 percent to $42.2 billion even as imports declined to the lowest level in 1½ years. September’s trade gap was revised to $40.3 billion from the previously reported $41.6 billion.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected the trade deficit to rise to $42.6 billion in October. The wider trade gap in October reflected a 3.6 percent fall in exports of goods and services to $180.5 billion. That was the biggest percent drop in exports since January 2009.

Exports have been one of the pillars supporting the economy since the 2007-09 recession ended. The pull back was telegraphed by weak manufacturing surveys and reflects slowing global demand, especially in China and debt-ridden Europe.

Imports of goods and services fell 2.1 percent to $222.8 billion in October, the lowest since April 2011.

U.S. charges South Korea’s Kolon with trade secrets theft

WASHINGTON, Thu Oct 18, 2012 – A U.S. grand jury charged South Korea-based Kolon Industries Inc. with criminal trade theft in a long-running dispute over how the company produced high-strength fiber, according to an indictment unsealed on Thursday.

Kolon and five individuals face charges that they stole trade secrets belonging to DuPont Co, maker of Kevlar fabric used in body armor and other products, and Teijin Ltd, maker of Twaron, the rival fabric.

The United States threatens to take at least $226 million in assets from Kolon, which represents the gross proceeds of the company’s sales of its fabric, Heracron, according to the indictment.

The indictment is dated Aug. 21 and was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. DuPont developed Kevlar in Virginia, according to the indictment.

The company and the individuals also face a charge that they obstructed the U.S. government’s investigation.

In a 2011 civil lawsuit, a federal jury ordered Kolon to pay DuPont $920 million in damages based on similar accusations. In August, a judge barred Kolon from making its version of the synthetic fiber for 20 years.

Kolon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

A court hearing in the case has been scheduled for Dec. 11.

Facebook to stop honoring trades in shares for three days: source

SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook, the social networking company poised to go public this year, will not honor trades of its shares in the secondary markets for a three-day period beginning on Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Lawyers representing Facebook sent a letter last week to at least one of the special markets where private company shares are traded informing them of the move, the source said. The letter, from the law firm Fenwick & West, did not provide a reason for temporarily halting private transactions of Facebook shares.

The suspension, which runs from Wednesday to Friday, comes as anticipation is building for Facebook to sell shares to the public later this year.

The fact that Facebook will not honor secondary market trades in its shares for three days does not necessarily mean the company is getting closer to filing a prospectus for an offering.

Facebook officials declined to comment. News of the suspension in honoring Facebook trades was first reported by Bloomberg News on Tuesday.

Shares of Facebook, the world’s largest Internet social networking company with more than 800 million users, recently traded at $34 a share on SharesPost, according to information posted on the website. That gives Facebook an implied valuation of $80 billion, according to SharesPost.