Last-Ditch Effort to Avoid Automatic Spending Cuts: Hot Trends

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Popular searches on the Internet include spending cuts as $85 billion in federal spending cuts will go into effect Friday unless President Obama and Congress can come to a last-minute agreement.

The pending cuts are tied back to a deal to increase the debt ceiling in August 2011. Democrats and Republicans are at an impasse over how to replace the cuts totaling $1.2 trillion over nine years. Of that amount, $85 billion would occur in the remainder of this fiscal year.

Although Obama is set to meet with congressional leaders Friday morning, there is little expectation that a deal will be reached to stave off the automatic cuts. The president is required by law to sign an order that will reduce federal spending by 11:59 p.m. on Friday.

As the cuts likely wouldn't take effect for a few weeks, there is hope that a solution would still be reached. If no resolution is found, the Congressional Budget Office said budget reductions will likely cause about a 0.6 percentage-point drop in economic growth this year. Obama has warned that sequestration could potentially devastate a shaky economy.

Cablevision Systems ( CVC) is trending as the cable company reported a fourth-quarter operating loss, dragged down by Hurricane Sandy.

Cablevision reported a net loss from continuing operations of $83.7 million, or 32 cents a share, compared with a profit of $60.5 million, or 22 cents, a year ago. Sales dropped 1.6% to $1.66 billion, below analysts' expectations of $1.7 billion.

The company also lost more customers than analysts predicted. Cablevision reported a loss of 50,000 video customers, 5,000 high-speed Internet subscribers and 10,000 voice customers.

CEO James Dolan said challenges related to Sandy "had a strong negative impact" on the company's fourth-quarter results. About $111 million in costs were added during the period due to Sandy.

The company's programming costs are expected to rise about 12% this year. Cablevision already announced it was raising prices by $2.98 a month to cover rising costs of sports programming as well as charging its Internet subscribers another $5 a month.

Pandora ( P) is another popular search. The online music streaming service said will it put a cap on the amount of free music mobile users can listen to as it faces rising royalty costs.

Pandora said mobile users will be able to listen to a maximum of 40 hours of free music per month. Listeners who exceed that limit can pay 99 cents for unlimited listening for the remainder of the month. Users can also subscribe to Pandora One for unlimited listening and no advertisements. Pandora One subscribers pay $4 a month, or $36 a year.

Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren said in a blog post on the company's Web site that the company's per-track royalty rates have increased more than 25% in the last three years and are set to rise another 16% over the next two years. Streaming services like Pandora pay different rates to license music than radio stations.

Westergren said the average listener on Pandora uses only about 20 hours a month, and the decision would affect less than 4% of its total monthly active listeners.

The chatter on Main Street (a.k.a. Google, Yahoo! and other search sites) is always of interest to investors on Wall Street. Thus, each day, TheStreet compiles the stories that are trending on the Web, and highlights the news that could make stocks move.

-- Written by Brittany Umar.
Brittany joined TV in November 2006 after completing a degree in Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers College. Previously, Brittany interned at the local ABC affiliate in New York City WABC-TV 7 where she helped research and produce On Your Side, a popular consumer advocacy segment.