Summary of business headlines: Tablets powered by Google Android software gaining ground on iPad; 3M posts higher sales and profits; Caterpillar earnings surge 58 percent thanks to better global demand.
USA-BUSINESS UPDATE - Tablets powered by Google's Android software, like Amazon's Kindle Fire, are quickly closing the gap with the Apple iPad. According to Strategy Analytics - global tablet shipments hit a record high in the fourth quarter with Android's market share growing to 39 percent from 29 percent the year before. Apple saw its lead narrowed down to 58 percent from 68 percent the prior year. For all of 2011, the industry sold about 67 million tablets.
3M, the maker of Post-It notes, Scotch tape, and a wide range of other commercial and industrial products, saw its fourth-quarter profit rise more than expected. Higher sales matched forecasts.
But the big earnings story of the day is Caterpillar. The heavy duty equipment maker far exceeded expectations for the quarter. Earnings surged 58 percent, sales jumped 35 percent and the outlook for this year is ahead of forecasts. Caterpillar is benefitting from a global pick-up in demand for construction machinery.
Conway Gittens, Reuters