Google in EU antitrust inquiry and Stocks set to edge up at open

Google is being scrutinized by European antitrust officials, who have notified the Internet search giant that three companies have complained about its practices.

The European Commission is investigating complaints made by Ciao! from Bing, which is a unit of Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500); UK price comparison site Foundem; and French legal search engine ejustice.fr, Google said.

The three are arguing that the search firm suppresses the ranking of its competitors in search results.

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The Commission has not opened a formal investigation for the time being," according to a statement released by the executive arm of the European Union. [Read the full article]

U.S. stocks were set to open slightly higher Wednesday as investors awaited Congressional testimony from Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke.

Dow Jones industrial average, S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq 100 futures were narrowly higher, recovering from earlier lows.

Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance and offer an indication of how markets may open when trading begins in New York.

U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday after a key gauge of consumer confidence tumbled, reflecting investors’ growing pessimism about the strength of the recovery. The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite all lost about 1%.

Erick Maronak, chief investment officer for Victory Capital Management, said that investors are focused on Bernanke’s appearance before Congress, particularly "the pace at which he sits back and withdraws monetary stimulus from the market."

The Fed chief is expected to discuss economic and monetary policy. [Read the full article]

A judge in Milan found three Google executives guilty Wednesday of violating Italy’s privacy code over a video that was uploaded on the search giant’s video platform, the company said.

After being notified about the video — which showed students bullying an autistic classmate — by Italian police in 2006, Google took the video down within hours, said Matt Sucherman, the company’s vice president and deputy general counsel for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in a blog post.

He added that the company continued to work with authorities to help identify the student who uploaded the video, and she and other students involved were sentenced to 10 months of community service by a court in Turin, Italy. The video was uploaded to Google Video, prior to the company’s purchase of YouTube. [Read the full article]

U.S. airline passenger revenue rose in January for the first time in more than a year as ticket prices increased, according to a trade group.

Revenue based on a sample of U.S. carriers was up 1.4% in January compared to the same month in 2009, following 14 consecutive months of declines, the Air Transport Association (ATA) said Tuesday.

The boost in sales came as the average ticket price to fly one mile jumped 0.6%, the first rise since November 2008, offsetting the 0.4% drop in passengers.

Revenue was also boosted by a 3.4% increase in passenger sales on trans-Atlantic routes in January, the ATA said.

In December, cargo traffic surged 17% year-over-year amid growth in international trade. That compares to an 11% decline for the full year of 2009. January 2010 cargo data were not yet available. 

The Fed chief tells Congress the economy is recovering, but employment is slow to rebound. He also softens stance on Fed regulation. [Read the full article]

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