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TWM Today: Wall Street

|Includes: AAPL, HMC, AT&T Inc. (T), TM
AT&T Moves Away From Unlimited-Data Pricing ~ AT&T Inc (NYSE:T) is abandoning unlimited-pricing plans for new wireless subscribers to email and Internet services on smartphones, kicking off an important and long-awaited shift in how carriers bill their customers. The change, which takes effect next week for new AT&T customers, could mean lower rates for typical customers but higher costs for heavy data consumers. Current AT&T smartphone customers, however, can opt to keep their existing plans indefinitely, even if they switch phones, AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said. With the move, AT&T's second price cut for wireless plans in six months, the company appears to be trading a hit to short-term revenue for greater control of its network and more power to price accordingly as wireless-data usage grows. "The new plans appear well designed to reduce undue network stresses," said Craig Moffett, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein. AT&T said Wednesday it will eliminate its $30 unlimited data plan for new smartphone subscribers starting June 7, when Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) is expected to announce its latest iPhone. The plan will be replaced by new offerings costing $15 an month for 200 megabytes of data traffic or $25 a month for 2 gigabytes. Users who exceed 2 gigabytes of usage will pay $10 a month for each additional gigabyte. (WSJ)

Nissan, Hyundai Lead Asian Carmakers’ U.S. Sales Gains in May ~  Nissan Motor Co (OTCPK:NSANY) and Hyundai Motor Co (HYUA) led U.S. sales gains in May for the biggest Asia-based automakers as improving consumer confidence helped sustain a recovery in demand. Nissan, Japan’s third-largest automaker, yesterday reported a 24 percent increase from a year earlier, while Seoul-based Hyundai said its sales rose 33 percent. Toyota Motor Corp (NYSE:TM), the world’s biggest automaker, posted a 6.7 percent gain and Honda Motor Co’s (NYSE:HMC) were up 19 percent. “Nissan and Hyundai have been judicious with their use of incentives,” with the South Korean automaker’s sales increase led by the Sonata sedan, said James Bell, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book in Irvine, California. “These great percentage gains are also in light of the depths of despair we were at a year ago.”  (Bloomberg)

Visa To Block China UnionPay's Intl Transactions ~ Visa International (V.N) has asked its global financial institutional members to stop international transactions through China's UnionPay system from Aug 1, the official China Securities Journal reported on Thursday. China UnionPay is the nation's sole bank card processer. No visa card transactions outside the mainland, including ATM cash services or card payments, should go through the UnionPay system. If they do, member institutions will be fined, the report said, without providing more details. (Reuters)

U.S. Proposes Rules on Airline Tickets and Fees ~ The Department of Transportation proposed a wide range of air passenger protections on Wednesday, signaling that it will be more aggressive in forcing airlines to address common traveler frustrations. The proposed new rules would raise compensation for passengers denied boarding on oversold flights, allow customers to get a full refund within 24 hours of purchasing an airline ticket and require reimbursement of baggage fees and expenses when luggage is not delivered on time. The proposed rules also require the airlines to be more prompt in notifying travelers about flight delays and cancellations — at boarding gate areas as well as through airline Web sites and phone updates. Other proposed provisions would prohibit price increases after a ticket is purchased and ban airlines and ticket agents from advertising prices that are not the full fare — specifically mandating clearer disclosure in advertisements for “one-way” fares that can only be purchased as part of a round-trip ticket. “All of these rules come about as a result of complaints that we’ve heard from the flying public,” Ray LaHood, the transportation secretary, said at a news briefing about the proposed regulations. “These are the things that people get irritated about.” Wednesday’s announcement follows a previous set of passenger protections that took effect in late April requiring airlines to give passengers stuck on the tarmac the option to get off the plane after three hours, with exceptions for safety and security reasons. Carriers were also required to develop plans to deal with lengthy tarmac delays and provide passengers with snacks, water and working bathrooms. (NYSE:NYT)

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