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Controversy, heavy losses in wake of Facebook IPO

These are stories Report on Business is following Tuesday, May 22, 2012. Get the top business stories through the day on BlackBerry or iPhone by bookmarking our mobile-friendly webpage.

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Facebook controversy deepens The controversy surrounding the initial public offering of Facebook Inc. deepened today as the stock continued to sink and officials called for a deeper look into how the IPO went awry.

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The chiefs of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in the United States want a review, Reuters reported.

Among other things, Nasdaq has apologized for the troubles with the launch of trading Friday.

For Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg personally, the last several days have been hectic, to say the least.

He took the social network public on Friday, amid the Nasdaq glitches, and a day later wed his college sweetheart Priscilla Chan in their backyard in Palo Alto, Calif.

Then yesterday, the stock sank on its first full day of trading, falling well below the issue price of $38 a share, in a rout that continued today.

That sent the value of Mr. Zuckerberg's stock down to below $16-billion, from the more than $19-billion on Friday.

OECD warns Europe The OECD is warning the euro zone today about the possibility of a severe slump, and joining the call from other quarters for a eurobond to help shore things up amid the two-year-old debt crisis.

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The 17-member monetary union is running dangerously close to a contraction this year of 2 per cent, which is the grimmest of the scenarios that the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development has already put forward. That's the worst case scenario, however. The OECD projects the euro zone economy will shrink by 0.1 per cent this year.

The group is not alone. As our European correspondent Eric Reguly writes in today's Report on Business, France's new president François Hollande plans to urge German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week to jump on the eurobond bandwagon.

The OECD may fear developments in Europe, but it's not overly concerned about Canada, projecting economic growth of about 2 per cent this year and 2.5 per cent in 2013.

Indeed, The Globe and Mail's Kevin Carmichael reports from Washington, the organization is urging the Bank of Canada to begin hiking interest rates again as early as the fall.

Up next: Japan The Fitch ratings agency has turned its eye from the troubled euro zone to Japan, cutting its debt rating by one notch today, to A-plus from double-A.

Fitch cited political troubles that could leave fiscal measures on the backburner, particularly compared to other countries.

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"The world would like to see the [Bank of Japan]step up and target inflation more aggressively, and by default adding additional monetary stimulus to a slowing global economy," noted Lauren Rosborough of Société Générale.

The Bank of Japan began a two-day meeting today, and its policy statement is expected tomorrow.

What to watch for this week We'll see how consumers are keeping up when Statistics Canada reports tomorrow on how retailers fared in March.

Economists expect to see that retail sales bounced back to the tune of 0.3 per cent after a dip in February. And if you strip out autos, they're betting on a bounce of 0.5 per cent to 0.6 per cent.

"March's warm temperatures were probably a boon to retailers, namely sellers of building materials, hobby items, and discretionary goods," said Emanuella Enenajor of CIBC World Markets.

"Although gasoline prices fell on a seasonally adjusted basis, the dent to receipts may have been limited by the robust weather that supported incentives to gas-up and head outdoors."

For investors, Canada's major banks begin another quarterly earnings season, with results this week from Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank.

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About the Author
Report on Business News Editor

Michael Babad is a Report on Business editor and co-author of three business books. He has been with Report on Business for several years, and has also been a reporter and editor at The Toronto Star, The Financial Post and United Press International. His articles have appeared in major newspapers around the world. More

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