AP Business NewsBrief at 2:18 p.m. EST
(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Retailers report strong January salesNEW YORK (AP) _ Sometimes, the devil is in the deals. Americans shopped the winter clearance racks in January, resulting in strong sales during the month for retailers. But spending is expected to slow as the deals dry up heading into the spring, and Americans digest rising gas prices and a 2 percent payroll tax hike that started in January.
Humbled Toyota rolls out new Tundra pickupDETROIT (AP) _ When Toyota's hefty new Tundra pickup went on sale in 2007, the Japanese automaker trumpeted it as a game-changer that would challenge Detroit for the only part of the market it still dominated. "The truck that's changing it all," was the tagline from an ad that featured the beefy Tundra pulling a 10,000-pound trailer up a steep ramp.
Stocks retreat as weak earnings provide no joyNEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks slumped on Wall Street Thursday, suggesting that the rally which has pushed indexes close to record levels may have run its course. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 118 points at 13,870 as of 12:04 p.m. The index has shed almost 1 percent since the start of the week, after logging its best January in almost two decades.
US unemployment aid applications decline to 366KWASHINGTON (AP) _ Fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, indicating companies continue to hire at a modest but steady pace. The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment benefits fell 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 366,000.
Northeast readies for 1st major snow storm of yearBOSTON (AP) _ People in the Northeast stocked up on food and supplies and road crews readied salt and sand Thursday as the region braced for a major winter storm that could bring up to 2 feet of snow to places that haven't seen significant accumulations in more than a year. The National Weather Service said most of southern New England could see anywhere from 18-24 inches between Friday and Saturday, and some other forecasts cautioned that totals could be even higher. Suffolk County in New York was under a blizzard watch, as were parts of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
US productivity fell at 2 percent rateWASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. worker productivity shrank in the final three months of 2012 although the decline was caused by temporary factors. Productivity contracted at an annual rate of 2 percent in the October-December quarter, the biggest drop since the first quarter of 2011, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Productivity had risen at a 3.2 percent rate in the July-September quarter.
Sprint posts big 4Q loss, revenue risesNEW YORK (AP) _ Sprint Nextel Corp., the country's third largest wireless carrier, on Thursday said it lost $1.3 billion in its fourth quarter, about the same as a year ago, as it revamped its network for a comeback versus bigger competitors. The company's focus, and that of its investors, is on its long-term turnaround efforts rather than on short-term results. Sprint is selling 70 percent of itself to Japanese carrier Softbank Corp. for $20 billion. That deal is expected to close this summer, and provide long-ailing Sprint with a much-needed infusion of capital.
UK: Lasagna products test positive for horsemeatLONDON (AP) _ U.K. authorities say beef lasagna products recalled from British supermarkets by frozen-food company Findus have tested positive for more than 60 percent horsemeat. The revelation comes after millions of burgers were taken off shop shelves earlier this month as it emerged that beef products from three companies in Ireland and Britain contained horse DNA.
ECB's Draghi assessing impact of strong euroBERLIN (AP) _ European Central Bank President Mario Draghi pledged Thursday to keep a close eye on the recent rise of the euro, which some of the region's leaders worry has the potential to weaken the region's economy further. Draghi, who spoke after the ECB's monthly policy meeting, said the recent appreciation of the euro was a sign of rising confidence in the region's finances, though he hinted the ECB was prepared to respond if there was a material impact on the economy. The ECB kept its main interest rate unchanged at a record low of 0.75 percent, which is intended to stimulate growth by encouraging businesses and consumers to borrow and spend.
Ireland seals ECB deal to slash bank bailout costsDUBLIN (AP) _ Ireland clinched a long-sought agreement Thursday with the European Central Bank to restructure the loans used to bail out its failing banks, a deal expected to reduce the national debt by (EURO)20 billion ($27 billion) in the coming decade and help the country's expected exit from its own international bailout. Red-eyed lawmakers applauded Prime Minister Enda Kenny as he announced the breakthrough after more than a year of negotiations with ECB governors. The deal should allow Ireland, which has imposed severe austerity measures since 2009, to reduce planned cuts and tax hikes in coming years.
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