October 25, 2020

Microsoft Releases Report on Law Enforcement Requests

The report, which Microsoft plans to update every six months, showed that law enforcement agencies in five countries — Turkey, the United States, Britain, France and Germany — accounted for 69 percent of the 70,665 requests Microsoft received during 2012.

In 8 of 10 requests, Microsoft provided agencies with elements of so-called non-content information such as an account holder’s name, gender, e-mail address, IP address, country of residence and dates and times of data traffic.

In 2.1 percent of requests Microsoft disclosed the actual content of a communication, such as the subject headline of an e-mail, the contents of an e-mail, or a picture stored on SkyDrive, its cloud computing service.

Microsoft said it disclosed the content of communications in 1,544 cases to U.S. law enforcement agencies, and in 14 cases to agents in Brazil, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand.

“Government requests for online data are like the dark matter of the Internet,” said Eva Galperin, a global policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, which has campaigned for greater disclosure.

She said that even with Microsoft’s disclosures, fewer than 10 companies publish the extent of their cooperation with law enforcement agencies.

“Only a few companies report this, but they are only a very small percent of the online universe,” Ms. Galperin said. “So any one company that joins the disclosure effort is good news. The faster this becomes a standard for all Web businesses, the better.”

The law enforcement requests targeted users of Microsoft services such as Hotmail, Outlook.com, SkyDrive, Skype and Xbox Live, services where consumers are typically asked to enter their personal details in order to obtain service.

Google was the first major Web business in 2010 to begin reporting the level of legal requests it received for information. Since then, Twitter, LinkedIn and some smaller companies have also reported, but big businesses such as Apple and Yahoo still do not.

Microsoft also initially resisted. In January, a group of more than 100 Internet activists and digital rights groups signed a petition asking Microsoft to disclose its data-handling practices for Skype, the Internet voice and video service it bought in 2011.

But Microsoft did provide two new facets of detail in its transparency report that rivals have not addressed in similar fashion — supplying detail on the reason why it rejected some requests, and listing separate categories by country on how it responded to requests for actual content of communications and to requests for non-content data.

In its transparency report, Microsoft also published separate information for Skype, which continues to be based in Luxembourg and therefore is subject to national and E.U. law.

During 2012, Microsoft disclosed in 4,713 cases administrative details of Skype accounts — such as a user’s SkypeID, name, email account, billing information, and call detail records if a user subscribed to the Skype In/Online service, which connects to a telephone number.

But Microsoft said it released no content from any Skype transmissions during 2012. Microsoft has said that the peer-to-peer nature of Skype’s Internet conversations mean the company does not store and has no historic access to Skype conversations.

The top countries that made requests and received information from Microsoft for Skype non-content information last year, in descending order, were Britain, the United States, Germany, France and Taiwan, which accounted for eight in 10 Skype requests.

Microsoft did not disclose the total number of requests it had received for Skype information, but said it aimed to do so starting in its next report later this year.

Brad Smith, a Microsoft executive vice president and the company’s general counsel, estimated that the number of requests Microsoft received during 2012 covered only a tiny fraction of its vast customer base, which the company estimates to be in the hundreds of millions of users.

Mr. Smith, in a blog post, said the 2012 requests affected less than 0.02 percent, or less than two one-hundredths of 1 percent, of Microsoft account holders. He noted that Microsoft, like all global businesses, was obligated to comply with legal requests from law enforcement. But Mr. Smith wrote that Microsoft had set high standards for complying.

Law enforcement agencies must first present a subpoena or its foreign equivalent to obtain non-content data on Microsoft users, Mr. Smith wrote. To obtain the contents of e-mails and other communications, Microsoft requires agencies to submit a warrant, which in the United States are issued by court judges, or in Britain, by the Home Secretary.

Microsoft rejected requests for data in 18 percent of cases during 2012, mostly because the company said it couldn’t find any information on the requested individuals or because law enforcement had not demonstrated proper legal justification for the requests.

Microsoft also said it received a minuscule number of requests for data on businesses.

During 2012, Microsoft said it received only 11 requests for information on business clients, and complied in only four instances — after Microsoft said it had either obtained consent from the business or already had in effect a contract to disclose the information.

“Like every company we are obligated to comply with legally binding requests from law enforcement, and we respect and appreciate the role that law enforcement personnel play in so many countries to protect the public’s safety,” Mr. Smith wrote on his blog. “As we continue to move forward, Microsoft is committed to respecting human rights, free expression, and individual privacy.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/22/technology/microsoft-releases-report-on-law-enforcement-requests.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Is Skype a Telephone Operator? France Will Investigate

The regulator, known by its French acronym Arcep, said that it had, “on several occasions,” asked Skype Communications, which is based in Luxembourg, “to declare itself an electronic communications operator,” and that the company had not acted.

A company acting as a telecommunications operator incurs certain obligations, the French agency said, notably that “of routing emergency calls and putting in place a means for allowing legal wiretapping.”

Skype and other Internet phone services use a system called voice-over-Internet protocol, or VoIP, to enable conversations and video meetings over the Internet. The service, which Microsoft acquired from eBay in 2011 for $8.5 billion, says it has hundreds of millions of users worldwide.

The French action comes at a tricky time for Microsoft, which has come under pressure from digital rights groups over how data about users collected from Skype are shared with advertisers and law enforcement agencies.

Arcep noted that people could make Skype calls from a computer or smartphone. “In effect,” the regulator said, “this service constitutes furnishing a telephone service to the public.”

French law does not require that a telecommunications operator obtain administrative authorization, Arcep said, but “only a prior declaration.” Failure to follow the law is a criminal offense, however, and Arcep said it was turning the matter over to Paris prosecutors.

Microsoft said that it had shared with the French authorities its view “that Skype is not a provider of electronic communications services under French law” and that it would “continue to work with Arcep in a constructive fashion.” Robin Koch, a Microsoft spokesman in Brussels, declined to comment further. The Paris prosecutor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The regulator’s announcement was the latest in a series of actions aimed at global communications companies. On Jan. 20, a study commissioned by the government of President François Hollande proposed instituting an Internet tax on the collection of personal data. Also that month, a French court ordered Twitter to identify people who posted racist messages.

French media and telecommunications companies have also argued that they are unfairly subsidizing Internet services that use their content and bandwidth without sharing the revenue. French officials reacted sympathetically earlier this year when one Internet provider, Free, sought to put pressure on Google to pay for the bandwidth it uses by blocking ads.

Current European Union law does not consider Skype and similar Internet-based services to be telecommunications companies. The office of Neelie Kroes, the E.U. commissioner for digital issues, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jean-François Hernandez, a spokesman for Arcep, said that the agency started demanding Skype’s compliance in April 2012, but that it had refused to cooperate.

Mr. Hernandez said that there were questions at the European level about the regulation of these companies, especially on data privacy and taxation, but that the agency’s dispute with Skype had nothing to do with that.

“It’s about the fact that when you act as a French operator you have to register as an operator,” he said.

Mr. Hernandez acknowledged that once a company was registered as a French operator, its French earnings would be subject to local taxes. “But you shouldn’t transform this into a tax story,” he said. “This agency has nothing to do with taxes.”

Stéphane Richard, the chief executive of France Télécom, the former state monopoly, has been critical of what he describes as an unfair advantage enjoyed by Skype and similar companies over the established companies that are required to transport rivals’ data without sharing in the revenue.

France Télécom said Tuesday: “We believe that this represents a positive first step toward a more balanced regulatory environment that encompasses the activity of over-the-top players.”

Kevin J. O’Brien contributed from Berlin.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/13/technology/france-refers-skype-to-prosecutors.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

France Refers Skype to Prosecutors

The French regulator, known as Arcep, said in a statement that it had “on several occasions” asked Skype Communications, based in Luxembourg, “to declare itself an electronic communications operator,” and that the company had not acted.

A company acting as a telecommunications operator incurs certain obligations, the agency said, notably that “of routing emergency calls and putting in place a means for allowing legal wiretapping.”

Skype and other Internet phone services use a system called voice-over-Internet protocol to enable conversations and video meetings over the Net. The service, which Microsoft acquired from eBay in 2011 for $8.5 billion, claims hundreds of millions of users worldwide.

The French action comes at a tricky time for Microsoft, which has come under pressure recently from digital rights groups over how data about users collected from Skype is shared with advertisers and law enforcement agencies.

Arcep noted that users could make Skype calls from a computer or smartphone. “In effect,” the regulator said, “this service constitutes furnishing a telephone service to the public.”

French law does not require that a telecommunications operator obtain administrative authorization, Arcep said, but “only a prior declaration.” Failure to follow the law is a criminal offense, however, and Arcep said it was turning the matter over to Paris prosecutors.

A Microsoft spokesman in Brussels did not immediately have a comment.

The regulator’s announcement appeared to be the latest effort by French authorities to rein in the companies that have revolutionized global communications. On Jan. 20, a study commissioned by President François Hollande’s government proposed instituting an Internet tax on the collection of personal data. And a French court that month ordered Twitter to identify people behind racist tweets.

But current European Union law does not consider Skype and similar “over the top” Internet-based services to be telecommunications companies.

The office of Neelie Kroes, the the European Union’s commissioner for the digital agenda, did not immediately respond for a request for comment.

Stéphane Richard, the chief executive of France Télécom, the former state monopoly, has been critical of what he describes as an unfair advantage enjoyed by Skype and similar companies over the established companies that are required to transport rivals’ data without sharing in the revenue.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/13/technology/france-refers-skype-to-prosecutors.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: For Many Digital Music Services, Free Is Not a Choice

The competition among streaming music services is going global. It is also increasingly going free.

Digital Notes

Daily updates on the business of digital music.

As CD and download sales cool, the music industry is looking to subscription services like Spotify, Rhapsody and Deezer to provide an attractive alternative to pirated content. But the growth of these companies has been relatively slow, and to compete against one another, more of them are opening free tiers — a move that gets attention, but has always caused worries that it could undermine the value of music.

Rdio, a subscription service created by the founders of Skype, is the latest to offer music gratis. On Monday, the service, whose regular prices are $5 and $10 a month, said that it would offer a free level in most of the countries in which it operates, after doing so in the United States in late 2011. The plan includes a limited amount of free music for six months — the company is secretive about exactly how much free music you get — and, unlike most other services that have a free tier, it has no advertising.

“I don’t want to devalue the content,” said Drew Larner, the chief executive of Rdio. “But we certainly have come around to the fact that in order to get the largest amount of people into the top of the funnel, the state of play is now that a free offering is critical.”

For almost every service, the goal of free is to get listeners hooked so that they will eventually pay for access. Pandora is one notable exception: although it has a premium plan, the company’s effort to compete with radio has made free access — and ads — a central part of its plan.

Mr. Larner said that in the United States, the introduction of new music over a year ago, and a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign — with radio spots and banners in Times Square — had helped raise Rdio’s profile and draw new users, although he declined to offer specific numbers. Rdio has never disclosed its user numbers, but they are believed to be far lower than those of Spotify, with five million paying users around the world, or Rhapsody, with one million.

Rdio is available in 17 countries, including Britain, Australia and France. The free version will be available in all countries except Germany and Brazil, because of licensing issues in those countries, Mr. Larner said. For Rdio, the decision not to include advertising means not only that it will forgo ads a source or revenue, but also that the company will be paying royalties for the free music out of its own pocket.

The move to free has largely been sparked by Spotify, but it has proved hard for others to resist. Shortly before Rdio added its free tier in the United States, Mog, another small competitor, came up with its own version. (It was no coincidence that Facebook was introducing its social graph around that time, which integrated entertainment apps.)

Deezer, a French service that has announced plans to open in more than 100 countries, recently announced that it was adding an ad-supported free tier. Rhapsody, online since 2011, has no free level.

Mog, which was bought last year by Beats Electronics, the headphone company, and is expected to return later this year in revamped form under the name Daisy, has not announced its future pricing plans.

Ben Sisario writes about the music industry. Follow @sisario on Twitter.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/28/for-many-digital-music-services-free-is-not-a-choice/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bucks Blog: Wednesday Reading: Tips on Earning and Spending Points

November 30

Wednesday Reading: Tips on Earning and Spending Points

Tips for earning and spending points for travel, Skype can expose your location, how exercise benefits the brain and other consumer focused news from The New York Times.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=90e7d2dc89c43688f31dee6b1aaef393

Bucks Blog: Friday Reading: Getting Doctors to Wash Their Hands

September 02

Friday Reading: Getting Doctors to Wash Their Hands

Getting doctors to wash their hands, data holds hints of optimism on the economy, Skype wants your landline and other consumer-focused news from The New York Times.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=e183df06fcde6afbc97006988c82e440

Sharp Rift in a Strike at Verizon

The walkout is unusual at a time when unemployment is steep and organized labor has lost several big battles. But union leaders are angry that Verizon has budged little from its long list of demands during six weeks of negotiations. The unions have resisted Verizon’s requests for concessions on scores of issues because the company has been very profitable overall, with net income of $6.9 billion in the first six months of this year.

Verizon notes that most of its lines of business that deliver services over wires — the part of the company where the striking workers are employed — are in decline. The bulk of the company’s profits come from Verizon Wireless, a thriving, nonunion joint venture that is majority-owned by Verizon.

The strike is the largest in the nation since 74,000 General Motors workers walked out for two days in 2007, although some union leaders warned that the Verizon strike could last much longer because the two sides remain far apart.

Union leaders and workers said the walkout would inevitably cause significant delays in phone repairs and in installations of its fast-growing FiOS television and Internet services in customers’ homes. But Verizon officials said the company had tens of thousands of managers ready to step in to do the work normally done by the striking workers.

Verizon’s chief executive, Lowell C. McAdam, took a hard line on Sunday, arguing that workers in Verizon’s heavily unionized wireline businesses must agree to cost reductions. The wireline businesses, which include home and business telephone landlines as well as the FiOS services, have had declines in their customer base and profitability in the last decade, amid growing competition from mobile phones, cable companies and services like Skype and Vonage.

“It is clear that some of the existing contract provisions, negotiated initially when Verizon was under far less competitive pressure, are not in line with the economic realities of business today,” Mr. McAdam wrote in a letter on Sunday to the company’s management to discuss the strike. “As the U.S. automobile industry found out a few years ago, failure to make needed adjustments — when the need for change is obvious — can be catastrophic.”

The strike involves Verizon repair technicians, FiOS installers and call center workers from Massachusetts to Virginia. The walkout was called by the Communications Workers of America, which represents 35,000 of the strikers, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents 10,000.

Verizon wants the unionized workers to start contributing to their health care premiums, including $1,300 to $3,000 a year toward family coverage. The company has also called for freezing pension contributions for current employees, eliminating traditional pensions for future workers, limiting sick days to five a year, and eliminating all job security provisions.

“What they’re asking is hard for us to swallow because the company had profits of $22 billion over the last four years,” said Joe Iorio, a field technician based in Brooklyn, who has worked for Verizon for 15 years. “They’re crying poverty, they say they can’t afford to pay us. We’re just not going to stand for it anymore.”

Several union members said they were insulted that they were being asked to make deep concessions when Verizon’s top five executives received a total of $258 million in compensation, including stock options, over the last four years.

Verizon says its unionized employees are well paid, with many field technicians earning more than $90,000 a year, including overtime, with an additional $50,000 in benefits. Union officials say the field technicians and call center workers generally earn $60,000 to $77,000 a year before overtime and that benefits come to far less than $50,000 a year.

Michael Parker, executive vice president for a communications workers’ local in Annapolis, Md., said it was not easy to go on strike. “It’s a scary thing — we have 45,000 families that don’t have income coming in,” he said. “But we have to draw a line in the sand and defend what we believe in. We bargained for 50 years to gain these things, and we don’t want to give that back.”

Jeff Kagan, founder of a telecommunications research firm in Georgia, said the strike would undoubtedly slow construction of Verizon’s FiOS network and installation of FiOS in homes, but the short-term hit was worth it to Verizon.

“Their traditional local phone business is shrinking, while the other parts of the business are still growing,” he said. “It’s just a matter of restructuring so they can remain competitive. If they’re not competitive, Verizon will lose business and everyone loses — investors, customers and workers.”

Richard Hurd, a professor of labor relations at Cornell, said the two unions felt Verizon was trying to humble them by pushing them to adopt some of the same, less generous benefits that many of the company’s 135,000 nonunion workers have. “When you challenge unions like that, in a sense the company is pushing them into a strike,” he said.

In 2000, Verizon had another big strike, when 86,000 workers walked out for two weeks, causing widespread delays in repairs.

As recently as Wednesday, union and Verizon officials said they thought a strike was highly unlikely. But several union officials said on Sunday that they were stunned that Verizon still had 100 proposals for concessions on the negotiating table on Saturday, including ones to eliminate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and Veterans Day as holidays.

“No one expected six weeks of bargaining would produce absolutely no movement or compromise by the company,” said Robert Master, a communications workers spokesman. “This was an unprecedented situation.”

Verizon officials have repeatedly said that the two unions broke off talks on Sunday, but union officials said they have asked for new meetings, and Verizon has refused.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=461eb6a171cc9d700977d1274e9f70fb

Facebook Offers Video Chat in Arrangement With Skype

The new feature allows users a way to connect with friends other than just posting messages, said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, said at a news conference here at the company’s headquarters. “It’s so easy, so minimal to use,” he said.

Last week, Google introduced Google+, its latest and most serious challenge yet in social networking, which includes video chatting for up to 10 people in an area of the site called Hangouts. So far, Google has limited the number of people who can sign up for the networking service.

To a certain extent, Facebook is playing catch-up — an unfamiliar position for a company that has grown to 750 million users worldwide, a figure Mr. Zuckerberg disclosed at the news conference. He has spent the last few years lifting Facebook past its rivals — it had 500 million users a year ago — but now faces questions about why he is following their lead.

The new Facebook service does not allow for group video chats, for example. It is also not available on mobile phones, unlike Skype’s smartphone apps.

Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Land, an industry blog, said Facebook’s new service at least lets the company counter Google’s move with its video chat. But in the end, he said, video chatting has been widely available for years in a variety of ways, like through instant messaging services, Skype and Apple’s FaceTime.

“I didn’t get the impression that people were finding it difficult to find one-to-one video chatting if they wanted to,” Mr. Sullivan said. “This potentially makes it easier for more people to get going, but I don’t see it as that hard to begin with.”

To start a video chat on Facebook, users click a button on their Facebook chat list or on a friend’s profile page. A box will then appear on the computer screen of that friend to either accept or decline the call.

Conversations take place inside a window that pops up within the browser. Downloading a plug-in is required to make and receive calls.

Video chatting will be available to all Facebook’s users in the coming weeks. For now, however, users can access it at facebook.com/videocalling.

For Skype, the partnership with Facebook provides a chance to have more visibility beyond its 170 million users. The service is free on Facebook, but Tony Bates, Skype’s chief executive, raised the possibility of eventually making paid calls available to Facebook users.

Making calls from computer to computer through Skype is free. But people who use Skype to call a landline or a mobile phone must pay. Facebook’s alliance with Skype expands an existing partnership between the two companies. Their cooperation started last year when Skype let its users connect with their Facebook friends from Skype and to get news feeds.

Last month, the Skype added a Facebook contacts tab and let Skype users send instant messages to their Facebook friends and comment on their friends’ status — all without leaving the Skype window.

But making Skype available on Facebook is risky and may, in the short term, undermine its business, said Greg Sterling, an analyst at Opus Research.

Facebook’s users will most likely flock to the new video chatting service, he said, while avoiding visiting Skype’s branded service directly.

“Obviously this is a great feature for Facebook — it’s really simple and a lot of people will use it,” Mr. Sterling said. But he added, “I think it’s going to have an adverse impact on Skype.”

Mr. Bates said: “We’ve always wanted to be as ubiquitous as possible. The long-term partnership far outweighs users moving from Skype, or visa versa.”

Microsoft is closing in on its acquisition of Skype for $8.5 billion. The purchase, announced two months ago, would give Microsoft a bigger footprint in online communications for consumers and corporate customers.

Microsoft, through its Skype acquisition, would also strengthen its ties to Facebook. Microsoft bought a small stake in Facebook in 2007, and it continues to provide search results within Facebook.

During the news conference on Wednesday, Mr. Zuckerberg signaled that the Skype integration was the first of several deals that would add services to Facebook with the help of other companies.

“Independent entrepreneurs, or entrepreneurs that focus on one thing, will always do better than a company that tries to focus on a million things,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in a comment that could be interpreted either as an acknowledgment of Facebook’s limits, or as a dig at Google for its broad ambitions.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=a31be69a51a7e6693a0d52725f6047fe

Shortcuts: Adapting to the Reality of Everyday Video Chatting

WHEN I was young, people marveled at the idea of making a phone call and actually seeing the person you were talking to.

But like individual jet packs, it seemed a futuristic concept that was always just around the corner, but would never actually arrive.

Well, the future may be now. Videoconferencing, Skype and similar technology are not new, but neither have they been widely used by the average consumer or business. That’s changing, though.

“I think we’ve hit a critical mass,” said Rick Osterloh, head of Skype’s consumer product management. This month, Microsoft announced that it planned to buy Skype, the leader in Internet and voice communication, for a staggering $8.5 billion.

So why is the technology taking off now? What exactly are the options out there?

And, perhaps more important, what impact will this have besides requiring more people who work at home to change out of their pajamas?

First, a primer on what we’re talking about. There are all sorts of choices out there for those who want to talk face-to-face without being in the same room. Philipp Karcher, a researcher at Forrester Research, helped me sort them out.

First, there are desktop platforms that allow face-to-face video chats and Web conferencing, among them Skype, MSN Messenger, Google and Yahoo Messenger.

Skype is by far the largest, claiming 170 million users. Calls are free unless they involve more than one person or are from a Skype user to a non-Skype user.

Companies like Fring, Tango and Qik (which has been acquired by Skype), also allow video calling between smartphones and from mobile devices to desktops. Apple, through Facetime, offers video calling between Apple devices.

Just to give you an idea of the popularity of such a concept: the first day Skype began offering video calls on iPhones, on Jan. 1, users placed one million video calls from their mobile phones.

Next is the idea of room-based videoconferencing. “A lot of people invested in it over the last 20 years,” Mr. Karcher said. That consists of a camera on a screen allowing groups of people to talk to and see each other. Companies are now replacing or upgrading these systems with high-definition systems.

And the “corporate jet of videoconferencing” is Telepresence, which as much as possible immerses people in a lifelike situation, using multiple cameras and screens and specially designed rooms.

Such technology will probably be slower to catch on, Mr. Karcher said, since the cost is high. Telepresence can cost up to $400,000 a room.

Finally, there is virtual life, which is used most frequently to allow people to virtually attend conventions and conferences. It creates worlds where people — sometimes in the guise of avatars — can “visit” these places and wander around just as they would at a real conference.

The reason we’re finally seeing video calls and conferencing grow so rapidly, Mr. Osterloh said, was “the pervasive adoption of broadband and PCs and really powerful smartphones.”

“Whenever technology is first introduced, you see a strong inertia toward using what you’re comfortable with,” he said. “And, of course, there are times you don’t want to see people face-to-face and times you don’t want to do video calls, but generally we’ve seen a huge demand for more and better.”

And as more and more people are telecommuting and not working in the same office — or state or country — there’s more of a need to find other ways to communicate.

My first reaction is to be wary of yet another tool that stops us from getting together in person.

“The more communications channels to the world in our living room, the less likely we are to leave the living room,” said Thomas Lewis, an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and a practicing psychiatrist.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=8f77c08d9c9ca03629f931038a82cae0

Deal for Skype Lifts Wall Street

Companies have built up a record amount of cash since the recession, and they have begun to use it for acquisitions, dividends and stock buybacks. Technology companies have particularly big cash hoards; Microsoft had $50 billion in cash and short-term investments at the end of March.. The purchase of Skype is Microsoft’s largest deal in its history.

Large companies also want to put their cash stockpiles to work because they’re getting minimal returns on them, said Oliver Pursche, president of Gary Goldberg Financial Services. Interest rates for short-term savings pay less than 1 percent. “The crisis is behind us,” he said. Companies “don’t need this much cash anymore.”

Stronger-than-expected earnings reports are also lifting stocks. ’Dean Foods, ’Activision Blizzard and others reported earnings that beat analysts’ expectations.

Shares in Dean Foods, a dairy producer, jumped 11.5 percent. Dean had a stronger start to the year than it expected and raised its forecast for full-year earnings.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 75.68 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 12,760.36. The Standard Poor’s 500-stock index rose 10.87 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,357.16. The Nasdaq composite index climbed 28.64 points, or 1 percent, to 2,871.89.

Nearly five shares rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume was 3.5 billion shares.

European stock markets and the euro rose on hopes that Greece would get another financial bailout to help it avoid a restructuring of its debts.

A restructuring — a renegotiation of existing debt deals — could have repercussions for Europe’s financial system, causing losses at banks holding Greek bonds. Germany’s DAX rose 1.2 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 1.3 percent.

Earlier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed up 0.3 percent to 9,818.76, with shares of Chubu Electric Power rising 1.9 percent after the Japanese utility agreed to a government request to shutter three nuclear reactors at the Hamaoka coastal power plant.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/11/business/11markets.html?partner=rss&emc=rss