Bill Gates should serve as Microsoft Corp.’s chief executive officer for a year as the software company he co-founded seeks a replacement for Steve Ballmer, Charles Schwab said Wednesday at a conference in Chicago. The world’s largest software maker is seeking a new leader while it adopts a new corporate structure focused on devices and services. “I think it would behoove Gates to go back for at least a year,” Schwab said. “He’s the only guy who can really reshape the cultural aspects. Otherwise the organization will spit anybody out, anybody coming in.”
Cheaper gasoline lowered overall U.S. consumer prices slightly in October. But outside the steep drop at the pump, inflation stayed mild. The consumer price index fell 0.1 percent last month, down from a 0.2 percent increase in September, the Labor Department said Wednesday. The October decline was due mainly to a 2.9 percent drop in gasoline costs, the largest since April. Over the past 12 months, overall prices have risen 1 percent, well below the Federal Reserve’s inflation target of 2 percent. Excluding volatile energy and food costs, so-called core prices rose 0.1 percent in October from September and have risen just 1.7 percent over the past 12 months.
Fewer Americans bought existing homes in October, as higher mortgage rates, the 16-day partial government shutdown and a limited supply of houses on the market reduced sales. The National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday that home resales fell 3.2 percent last month from September to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 5.12 million, the slowest since June. In separate reports Wednesday:
>> The Commerce Department said U.S. retail sales rose 0.4 percent in October as consumers spent more on autos, clothing and furniture.
>> The Commerce Department said business inventories rose 0.6 percent in September compared with August, the largest jump in eight months. Sales rose 0.2 percent.