AP Business NewsBrief at 5:13 p.m. EST
(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Huge gadget show gears up in VegasThink your high-definition TV is hot stuff _ as sharp as it gets At the biggest trade show in the Americas, which kicks off next week in Las Vegas, TV makers will be doing their best to convince you that HDTVs are old hat, and should make room for "Ultra HDTV." It's the latest gambit from an industry struggling with a shift in consumer spending from TVs, PCs and single-purpose devices such as camcorders to small, portable do-it-all gadgets: smartphones and tablets. The Consumer Electronics Association estimates that device shipments to U.S. buyers fell 5 percent in dollar terms last year excluding smartphones and tablets, but rose 6 percent to $207 billion if you include those categories.
Economy, year-end sales help auto industry in 2012DETROIT (AP) _ A steadily improving economy and strong December sales lifted the American auto industry to its best performance in five years in 2012, especially for Volkswagen and Japanese-brand vehicles, and experts say the next year should be even better. Manufacturers on Thursday announced their final figures, which were expected to total 14.5 million _ 13 percent better than 2011.
US job market resilient despite budget fightWASHINGTON (AP) _ The U.S. job market showed resilience in three reports Thursday, suggesting it may able to withstand a federal budget battle that threatens more economic uncertainty in coming months. A survey showed private hiring increased last month, while layoffs declined and applications for unemployment benefits stayed near a four-year low. The data led some economists to raise their forecasts for December job growth one day before the government releases its closely watched employment report.
Stocks fade after Fed discloses split on stimulusNEW YORK (AP) _ A two-day rally in the stock market came to an end Thursday afternoon when an account of the Federal Reserve's last meeting revealed a split between bank officials over how long the Fed should keep buying bonds to support the economy. The Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500 index treaded water for much of the day, then slid into the red around 2 p.m. Eastern, after the Fed released the minutes from its December meeting.
Fiscal-cliff deal no recipe for a robust economyWASHINGTON (AP) _ Housing is rebounding. Families are shrinking debts. Europe has avoided a financial crackup. And the fiscal cliff deal has removed the most urgent threat to the U.S. economy. So why don't economists foresee stronger growth and hiring in 2013
Retailers report higher December salesNEW YORK (AP) _ A last-minute surge in spending saved the holiday shopping season. Major retailers including Costco, Gap and Nordstrom on Thursday reported better-than-expected revenue in December. That comes as a relief for stores, which can make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue in the last two months of the year.
Lunch meat maker Hormel orders up Skippy sandwichNEW YORK (AP) _ Hormel Foods apparently has a hankering for a peanut butter and bacon sandwich. The company primarily known for Spam and other cured, smoked and deli meats said Thursday that it's buying Skippy, the country's No. 2 peanut butter brand, in its biggest-ever acquisition. Skippy, which was introduced in 1932 and is a staple in American pantries, is intended to increase Hormel's presence in the center of the supermarket where nonperishable foods are sold. It also gives the Austin, Minn.-based company a stronger footing in international markets. Skippy is sold in about 30 countries and is the leading peanut butter brand in China, where Hormel has been trying to build up its Spam business for the past several years.
Al-Jazeera pays $500M for Current TVLOS ANGELES (AP) _ With its $500 million purchase of left-leaning Current TV, the Pan-Arab news channel Al-Jazeera will soon be seen in tens of millions of U.S. homes. It's a steep price, but the acquisition helps the network in its aim to quickly spread its message to more Americans. The purchase will create a news channel called Al-Jazeera America, coming to American homes 90 days from now with a distinctly non-American view of the world. The network claims many people in the U.S. have sought its programming online, and that it aims to present an "unbiased" view, "representing as many different viewpoints as possible."
Congress members want Shell barge investigatedANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Calls for federal scrutiny of Royal Dutch Shell PLC drilling operations in Arctic waters swelled Thursday with a request for a formal investigation by members of Congress. The House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition called on the Interior Department and the Coast Guard to jointly investigate the New Year's Eve grounding of the Shell drill vessel Kulluk on a remote Gulf of Alaska Island, and a previous incident connected to Arctic offshore drilling operations in 2012.
Fed minutes show some concerns on bond purchasesWASHINGTON (AP) _ The Federal Reserve will keep buying bonds indefinitely to try to keep long-term borrowing costs low. It's just not clear how long indefinitely will be. Minutes of the Fed's last policy meeting show that officials were divided about when to halt the purchases.
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