Looking for clues in retail

Asian markets ended slightly higher, but U.S. investors were nervous as mixed retail sales numbers started coming in. As markets continue to debate the likelihood of a Fed rate cut, the Bank of England and the European Central Bank both decided to keep interest rates unchanged. (MarketWatch) Earlier this morning, the ECB injected $57 billion into the banking system, adding emergency liquidity for the fifth time in a month. “Everybody is quite nervous and waiting for something to hold onto,” said Walter Harecker at Constantia Privatbank in Vienna. (Bloomberg)

Apple gambles on cheaper iPhone

Apple shares shed more than 5 percent yesterday after it unveiled a new line of iPods and slashed prices on its iPhones. The $200 price cut led some analysts to speculate that iPhone sales were lagging. (The New York Times, free registration required) Apple also announced a music and ringtone download option for customers with iPhones and the new wireless iPod Touch. Investors “are reading this the wrong way,” said Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. “Apple's making a statement that they want to be big in the mobile market.” Earlier, Microsoft cut the price of its rival Zune portable media player by $50. (MarketWatch)

Boeing delays Dreamliner debut flight

Boeing said that its 787 Dreamliner aircraft won’t take its maiden test flight until mid-November or December, three months behind schedule. However, Boeing said it still expected to deliver its first 787 to All Nippon Airlines of Japan in May. The 787 is the fastest-selling commercial airplane in history. (The New York Times, free registration required) Boeing blamed the delay on unexpected shortages of fasteners and other parts from suppliers around the world. “I’m skeptical they will meet their first delivery date,” said consultant Scott Hamilton at Leeham Co. “I have to wonder what else is lurking out there.” (Chicago Tribune)

A secret MySpace

The U.S. intelligence community is making like teenagers and launching a social-networking site for spies. The classified “A-Space” network, set to launch in December, is designed to increase communication and information-sharing among the 16 often-insular intelligence agencies. Another Web 2.0 innovation, the year-old Wikipedia-like Intellipedia site, is already starting to take off. But there are doubters. “Anybody who’s dealt with adapting technology to the intelligence community will tell you that the intelligence community has not been brilliant in catching up,” said former spy Mark Lowenthal. (AP in the Los Angeles Times, free registration required)