Money Minute: Target Wants Smarter Cards; Banks Nix Payday-Like Loans

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Target wants to lead the effort to improve consumers' financial safety.

Target (TGT) wants the retail industry to switch to a credit card technology that's widely used in Europe. Cards there are imbedded with a computer chip instead of the line of black tape we're used to seeing on the back of our cards. The problem is, the smart chip requires costly upgrades that most retailers and card issuers have rejected in the past. But after the massive hack attacks we've seen recently, the time for this may have arrived.

Also on the consumer front: several large banks say they will stop issuing high-interest, payday-like loans. Federal regulators say they might violate consumer protection laws.

A growing number of economists expect the pace of growth this year to reach 3 percent or more.
That would be the best annual U.S. growth rate in nine years. One reason is the budget agreement in Washington that removes some of the uncertainty that has held back growth in recent years.

Paramount Pictures has become the first major Hollywood studio to end more than a century of making movies on film. According the Los Angeles Times, the Viacom (VIA) unit will only distribute films in digital form. Other studios are likely to follow suit, because it's much cheaper to distribute digital movies. But some movie theaters will have to make costly upgrades, or only offer movies put out on film by smaller studios.

Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) edged higher last week, but the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) edged lower.

The focus on Wall Street this week will be corporate earnings, with IBM (IBM), Microsoft (MSFT), Procter & Gamble (PG) and Starbucks (SBUX) leading the earnings parade.

And Freedom Industries has filed for bankruptcy protection. This is the company responsible for the chemical leak that poisoned the water supply two weeks ago for hundreds of thousands of West Virginia residents. It's now facing at least 20 lawsuits.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.


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