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business briefing

These are stories Report on Business is following Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014.

Follow Michael Babad and The Globe's Business Briefing on Twitter.

Separation anxiety
John Chen has some news that will warm Kim Kardashian's heart and, hopefully, ease her anxiety.

BlackBerry Ltd.'s chief executive officer, fresh off the launch of the new Passport, has published an open letter pitching the coming Classic model.

He didn't mention BlackBerry's biggest fan, but, based on her comments this week, we just know she'll be pleased.

"When we lose sight of what you want and you need, we lose you," Mr. Chen said in his letter today.

"It's tempting in a rapidly changing, rapidly growing mobile market to change for the sake of change – to mimic what's trendy and match the industry-standard, kitchen-sink approach of trying to be all things to all people," he added in the letter posted on the company's blog.

"But there's also something to be said for the classic adage, if it ain't broke don't fix it."

(Presumably he's talking about the actual device here, rather than the company, which he is fixing because it was broke.)

Mr. Chen boasted of "quite a few enhancements," including a bigger, sharper screen, with more apps and, of course, the BlackBerry 10 operating system.

It will also come with the top row of nav keys and trackpad.

"It's the device that has always felt right in your hands and always felt right in your busy day," Mr. Chen said.

And it does feel oh, so right in Ms. Kardashian's hands.

"It's my heart and soul," she said of her BlackBerry a few days ago at a tech conference.

"I love it. I'll never get rid of it ... If you have to handle an e-mail and you have to type fast I need to feel that board."

Presumably without knowing it, Mr. Chen did give a nod to Ms. Kardashian by saying that "we also recognize that a lot of you continue to hang on to your Bold devices because they get the job done, day in and day out – just like you."

(Unlike me, who uses the Q10, she's big on the Bold.)

I've never actually known what a Kardashian does in terms of a job.

But that doesn't matter because whatever she does, she needs three BlackBerrys and an iPhone to do it.

The iPhone's for photos – and I'll bet the bulk of them are selfies – and two of the BlackBerrys are back-ups.

"I have anxiety that I will run out and I won't have a BlackBerry," she said.

Please calm down, Kim.

As Mr. Chen put it in his letter, "we get it, and we've got you covered."

Fed ends QE
The Federal Reserve is ending a key, if controversial, stimulus program.

The U.S. central bank today did the expected, saying it would end an asset-purchase program, known as quantitative easing, or QE3 to mark the third round, this month.

The monthly purchases have been gradually declining, to just $15-billion (U.S.) from $85-billion earlier.

Also as expected, the Fed pledged to leave its benchmark rate at rock bottom for a "considerable time" still, The Globe and Mail's David Parkinson reports.

At the same time, the central bank also painted a picture of a better jobs market, which is its focus now.

The broader economy is "expanding at a moderate pace," it added.

"Labour market conditions improved somewhat further, with solid jobs gains and a lower unemployment rate," the Federal Open Market Committee, the central bank's policy-setting panel, said in its statement.

"A few minor tweaks to the Fed's statement suggests that they are becoming slightly more optimistic regarding the labour market outlook, but not enough at this point to drop the promise that rates will remain low for a 'considerable period' after the end of QE," said Andrew Grantham of CIBC World Markets.

What's not to like?
Shares of Facebook Inc. are tumbling today after the social media company's third-quarter report late yesterday.

Facebook actually posted decent third-quarter results after markets closed yesterday, though investors appear to be fretting over projected slower revenue gains and forecast higher spending.

Facebook profit climbed in the third quarter to $806-million (U.S.), or 30 cents a share, diluted, from $425-million or 17 cents a year earlier, while revenue jumped to $3.2-billion from about $2-billion.

"It seems earnings expectations have reached an unsustainable level and the company is now guiding lower and so it can increase costs and invest in the future of its business," said analyst Jasper Lawler of CMC Markets in London.

"There does appear to be a raised bar for what companies have to do to impress this reporting season, valuations are high and QE is ending so more is being expected from earnings," he added.

"Highly valued tech stocks which have missed estimates are being severely punished, Amazon, Twitter and now Facebook being the prime examples."

Fiat spinning off Ferrari
Ferrari is going its own way.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV today unveiled plans to spin off the sports car icon next year.

Some 10 per cent of the shares of Ferrari SpA will be sold to the public, and the rest given to Fiat shareholders.

Ferrari stock would then be listed in the U.S. and, possibly, Europe.

"Coupled with the recent listing of FCA shares on the NYSE, the separation of Ferrari will preserve the cherished Italian heritage and unique position of the Ferrari business and allow FCA shareholders to continue to benefit from the substantial value inherent in this business" chairman John Elkann said in a statement, referring to Fiat Chrysler.

Group seeks China reform
The World Bank is renewing calls for China to abandon the hard targets that have for decades governed its growth, as a slowing economy intensifies the need for the country to pursue reform over numerical goals, our correspondent Nathan VanderKlippe reports from Beijing today.

A fixation on government GDP forecasts has long distorted China's economic structure, prompting officials to bend rules and pour out money to ensure their year-end performance exactly match expectations. But those practices are growing increasingly risky for China as it faces a comedown from the high-flying decades it has just experienced, bank economists said today as they delivered their second China economic update of the year.

The "growth slowdown we are currently experiencing is not temporary but structural in nature," said senior economist Karlis Smits. He warned that "China's next transformation toward a more efficient, equitable and sustainable growth will depend on how successfully these structural reforms" – to labour and capital markets, in particular – "are made."

Earlier this month, the World Bank pared 2014 growth expectations to 7.4 per cent from 7.6 per cent, falling below the 7.5 per cent target China has set.

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