AP Business NewsBrief at 10:19 a.m. EST
(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Stocks are flat in the early going on Wall StreetNEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks opened close to break-even Thursday after the government said weekly applications for unemployment benefits fell to the second-lowest level this year. The Dow Jones industrial average was up seven points at 13,252 after the first half-hour of trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up a fraction at 1,428. The Nasdaq composite index was down a fraction at 3,014.
Weekly US jobless aid applications drop to 343KWASHINGTON (AP) _ The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply for a fourth straight week, a sign that the job market may be improving. The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment benefits fell 29,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 343,000, the lowest in two months. It is the second-lowest total this year.
US retail sales rose 0.3 percent in NovemberWASHINGTON (AP) _ Americans spent more online in November to start the holiday season and began to replace cars and rebuild in the Northeast after Superstorm Sandy. U.S. retail sales rose 0.3 percent in November from October, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That offset a 0.3 percent decline in October from September.
US business stockpiles rise 0.4 percent in OctoberWASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. businesses added to their stockpiles in October while sales fell, a sign that companies may order fewer goods in the coming months. The Commerce Department says inventories rose 0.4 percent, down from a 0.7 percent increase in September and the smallest gain in four months. Sales, meanwhile, dropped 0.4 percent.
Cheaper gas drives down US wholesale price indexWASHINGTON (AP) _ Cheaper gas drove down a measure of wholesale prices in November for the second straight month, a sign inflation remains mild. The producer price index fell 0.8 percent last month, the steepest drop since May, the Labor Department said Thursday. That follows a 0.2 percent decline in October. The index measures the cost of goods before they reach the consumer.
EU backs banking supervisor, Greece bailoutBRUSSELS (AP) _ In one whirlwind morning, the European Union nations agreed on the foundation of a fully fledged banking union and Greece's euro partners approved billions in bailout loans that will prevent the nation from going bankrupt. The two measures approved by European finance ministers ended weeks of haggling over ways to deal with the three-year financial crisis. Their decisions free up EU leaders gathering for their summit later Thursday to concentrate on solving the region's other economic and financial problems.
Sprint to pay $2.1B for the rest of ClearwireNEW YORK (AP) _ Sprint Nextel has offered to buy out the minority shareholders of Clearwire for $2.1 billion in a deal that would give it total control of the flailing company and also more space on the airwaves for data services. Sprint said in a regulatory filing Thursday that it's offering $2.90 per share for the 49 percent of the wireless network operator that it doesn't already own.
GM gives its pickups a much-needed makeoverDETROIT (AP) _ General Motors is giving its big pickups a much-needed makeover. The company is unveiling new versions of its top-selling Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra on Thursday. The 2014 models will go on sale by early spring or late summer.
Top central banks extend dollar credit linesFRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ Top central banks are extending their arrangements to swap dollars and other currencies to make sure banks have the money they need. The decision announced Thursday extends a crisis measure that was to expire Feb. 1, 2013. Now it will be extended for another year.
Cathay crew threaten no smiles, booze on flightsHONG KONG (AP) _ Flight attendants at Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific Airways are threatening to withhold food, alcohol and even smiles from passengers during the Christmas holidays over a pay dispute, a union official said Thursday. Cabin staff at the airline, which has a reputation for top-notch service, voted at a union meeting this week in favor of industrial action that could also result in flight delays.
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