Cars continue to roll out of the showroom. Leading auto retailer AutoNation (NYSE: AN) posted a healthy 19% spike in new-car sales for March, adding to the healthy metrics that individual automakers posted earlier.

What's pushing the sales? Is it the move toward more fuel-efficient cars at a time of spiking gas prices? Is it pent-up demand for big-ticket purchases that festered during the economic downturn? Is it all of the new cool dashboard toys that automakers continue to crank out?

Things will get even cooler on the tech front. Microsoft and Toyota (NYSE: TM) are teaming up to develop the next generation of cloud-based telematics that will roll out on Toyota hybrids next year.

If development runs astray, we can only hope there's enough GPS prowess there to get the platform on track.

Briefly in the news
And now let's take a quick look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.

  • Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has stars in its eyes. Variety reports that the YouTube parent is taking out a lease for office space in Beverly Hills. Sources tell The Wall Street Journal that YouTube is about to earmark as much as $100 million to create 20 niche-specific channels with hours of fresh weekly vetted content. Next thing you know, it'll want its own trailer!
  • Diamond Foods (Nasdaq: DMND) is buying Pringles from Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) in a deal originally valued at $2.35 billion. Diamond will get a killer brand to pad its snacks portfolio, while Procter & Gamble will be able to move some debt off its balance sheet. It's a win-win, unlike what would have happened if Diamond had bought Pampers or Old Spice instead.
  • The FDA approved AstraZeneca's (NYSE: AZN) vandetanib this week. It will be the only approved treatment for late-stage medullary thyroid cancer on the market. Now all it needs is a classy name that doesn't sound like a 1980s metal band.

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

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