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Financial 411: The White House Hosts Hu Jintao

Monday, January 17, 2011

Goldman Restricts U.S. Clients from Investing in Facebook

Monday brought bad news for some investors who want to be more than just friends with Facebook. Goldman Sachs will not allow its U.S. clients to invest in the social media company. Only international clients will be given the chance. In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, Goldman cited "intense media attention" that it said "might not be consistent with the proper completion of a U.S. private placement under U.S. law."

It's unclear exactly why Goldman is taking this step. But one possibility could be increased scrutiny of the deal by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The news that Goldman and Facebook had partnered up was seen by some as an end-run around rules that require private companies with more than 500 shareholders to disclose more financial information. Facebook is a privately-held company valued at an estimated $50 billion.

Apple CEO Jobs Taking a Leave of Absence

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is taking a medical leave of absence from the company. It's his second in two years. Jobs said he'll still be involved in major decisions, but he is turning over day-to-day operations to Tim Cook. Cook took over for Jobs during his last medical leave. Neither Apple nor Jobs provided details about Jobs' health or how long he will be away. Jobs had pancreatic cancer and a liver transplant in 2009.

Shelly Palmer, a media and technology analyst, doesn't think Apple will have any trouble: "Tim Cook is an excellent executive. Apple is particularly in good shape right now. They've got a lot of products that are positioned perfectly in the marketplace," he said. "The vision for Apple is clear. I don't think anybody's going to be concerned about the vision for Apple. What we are concerned about is Steve Jobs' health."

There was no market reaction to this news, as the announcement came on a day when stock markets in the U.S. were closed in observance of the holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr.

Apple, the world's most valuable technology company, will report quarterly earnings Tuesday.

Starbucks Unveils the 'Trenta'

Starbucks, the nation's biggest coffee chain, unveiled an even bigger cup of coffee: The Trenta. The 31-ounce cup is the Escalade of coffee cups, the big gulp of iced coffee โ€” and it will be available nationwide in May for about 50 cents more than its nearest cousin, the Venti. The Trenta will only be available for iced drinks. But will it fit in the cupholder?

U.S., China Meet at the White House

Chinese leader Hu Jintao is visiting the U.S. this week. His trip culminates with a state dinner at the White House on Wednesday. It's an honor usually given to close allies and longtime friends.

But with the increasing importance of China to the U.S. and vice versa, this meeting will be an attempt to rebuild trust between the two powers over issues from North Korea to currency policies.

Rana Foroohar, the assistant managing editor for Time, oversees business and economic coverage. She's also traveled in China and written about the country. She talks about one of the biggest topics of this week's talks โ€” currency โ€” and what could come out of the meeting.

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