AP Business NewsBrief at 12:13 p.m. EST
(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Retailers report modest sales gains for FebruaryNEW YORK (AP) _ Americans cut back on spending in February as cold weather and economic challenges chilled their appetite for spring merchandise. The nation's retailers on Thursday posted moderate sales growth for February, a time when most stores get rid of winter merchandise and bring in swimsuits, ankle length pants and other spring fashions.
Facebook getting ready to change News FeedNEW YORK (AP) _ Amid chatter of "Facebook fatigue," real or imagined, the world's biggest social networking company is getting ready to unveil a new version of News Feed, the flow of status updates, photos and advertisements its users see on the site. Facebook Inc. is hosting an event at its Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters on Thursday to show off "a new look for News Feed." The company offered no other details on what the changes will be in an invitation sent to journalists and bloggers. It will be Facebook's second staged event at its headquarters since the company's May initial public offering. The company unveiled a search feature at the first one in January.
Stocks gain after unemployment claims fallNEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks rose on Wall Street, pushing the Dow Jones industrial average to new highs, after the government said unemployment claims fell last week. The Dow rose 45 points, or 0.3 percent, to 14,342 as of 11:47 a.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 gained three points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,544. The Nasdaq composite advanced 10 points, 0.3 percent, to 3,232.
Icahn proposes alternative to Dell buyoutBillionaire investor Carl Icahn wants Dell Inc. to remain a public company and proposed rewarding shareholders with a large dividend payment instead of becoming private in a $24.4 billion buyout. He says the amount being offered by a group led by Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell substantially undervalues the slumping PC maker.
US rate on 30-year mortgage ticks up to 3.52 pct.WASHINGTON (AP) _ Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages were little changed this week, hovering near historic lows. Cheap mortgages have helped spur a recovery in the housing market. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage edged up to 3.52 percent from 3.51 percent last week. That's near the 3.31 percent rate reached in November, the lowest on records dating to 1971.
Gap revenue rises; transcript leaks earlyNEW YORK (AP) _ Gap says a key revenue measure rose more than expected in February, helped by sales at Gap and Old Navy stores. Gap had been scheduled to release the sales figures after the market closed, but put them out after a transcript of its recorded sales call appeared on the website seekingalpha.com, halting the shares.
AP Interview: Toyota chief stresses safe growthTOKYO (AP) _ After four tumultuous years bookended by an unprecedented recall crisis and a return to the top of the global auto industry, Akio Toyoda is refashioning Toyota Motor Corp. into a leaner company that's more imbued with the venture spirit of founder Kiichiro Toyoda, his grandfather. In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Toyota's president said he is putting new auto plants on hold for three years and reshaping the automaker's structure to give more autonomy to regional divisions and foreign executives.
Ford recalls 230,000 minivans to fix rust problemDETROIT (AP) _ Ford is recalling 230,000 minivans in 20 cold-weather states and Washington, D.C., to fix rust problems that can cause the third-row seats to come loose. The company says the recall affects Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans from the 2004 through 2007 model years. They were sold mainly in Canada and U.S. states where salt is used to clear roads in the winter.
Tsunami-hit towns still barren as rebuilding lagsRIKUZENTAKATA, Japan (AP) _ Like tens of thousands of people who lost everything in the tsunami that pulverized Japan's northeastern coast two years ago, 83-year-old Hide Sato is living in one-room temporary housing, and longing for a home of her own. Chances are she will be waiting at least a few more years. The dozens of temporary housing camps built for tsunami survivors were meant to be used for just two years. Now, officials are saying it could be six to 10 years before all are resettled.
Weekly US unemployment claims fall to 340,000WASHINGTON (AP) _ The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell to a seasonally adjusted 340,000 last week, driving down the four-week average to its lowest level in five years. The drop is a positive sign ahead of Friday's report on February job growth. Applications for benefits fell 7,000 in the week ended March 2, the Labor Department said Thursday. And the four-week average, a less volatile measure, dropped to 348,750. That's the lowest since March 2008, just a few months into the Great Recession.
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