Verizon joins in wireless price-cutting

Verizon Wireless executives say they are confident that network quality, not price tags, will attract customers. But that hasn't stopped the company from cutting prices. Verizon said Wednesday that it was trimming the costs of most of its mobile shared data plans by $10. For example, a plan that includes 1 gigabyte of data now starts at $30, down from $40; a plan that includes 6 gigabytes now starts at $70, down from $80. (Verizon's shared data plans separate the costs of data from the costs for each phone line, so these rates refer only to the data portion of a phone bill.) Verizon, however, is still resisting calling these price cuts. Instead, the company says customers can pay the same amount as they used to, but now they will get more mobile data for what they pay.

CME Group plans to phase out trading pits

Chalk up another victory of the machines over humans. The parent company of the Chicago Board of Trade and other exchanges is ending most trading involving people on the floor who establish prices by flashing hand signals and shouting at each other. CME Group said it will close most of its futures trading pits in Chicago and New York by July 2. The move comes as "open outcry" futures trading has fallen to 1 percent of CME Group's futures volume. Most of the trading is now done electronically. Scenes of traders crowded on exchange floors using shouts and hand signals to convey bids haves long been associated in the public's mind with the frenzied world of financial markets. But the practice is largely dying out as investors prefer the speed and efficiency of computerized trading.

Financial costs of hack negligible, Sony says

Sony Corp. trimmed its forecast of losses and estimates the Sony Pictures hack cost it about $15 million, but expects no significant harm from the cyberattack in the long run. Sony also issued new earnings forecasts for the fiscal year ending in March and said it was benefiting from strong sales of the PlayStation 4, other devices and network services. The hack became public in December when the Hollywood studio's computers were crippled and sensitive documents were posted online. The company had delayed the announcement of its earnings for the October-December quarter because the hack affected its ability to compile its complete results in time.

CEO of Harley-Davidson to ride into sunset

Motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson Inc. says Matt Levatich will become the company's president and CEO on May 1. Levatich has been the Milwaukee company's president and chief operating officer since 2009. He succeeds Chairman and CEO Keith Wandell, who is retiring. Levatich, 50, joined Harley-Davidson in 1994. Before his current role, he managed Harley's former European division, MV Agusta, as well as the company's parts and accessories business. He was also vice president of materials management.

ECB tightens the reins on Greece's banks

The European Central Bank has added pressure on the Greek government by withdrawing a key borrowing option for the country's banks as it struggles to avoid defaulting on its debts and crashing out of the euro currency union. The move underlines the key role the ECB, the monetary authority for the 19 countries that use the shared currency, is playing in the Greek drama. The ECB on Wednesday said Greek banks could no longer access ECB credit by using Greek government bonds or bonds guaranteed by the government.

Dockworkers warn of possible lockout

Employers could lock out West Coast dockworkers in as few as five days if the two sides do not reach a new contract. That warning came from the head of a maritime association who is negotiating a new deal with a union representing longshoremen at 29 ports that handle about $1 trillion in trade annually. Pacific Maritime Association CEO James McKenna said he wanted to avoid a coast-wide port shutdown, but employers wouldn't keep paying workers who aren't moving cargo at their normal rate if the ports become much more gridlocked. He said that could come between five and 10 days from now.

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