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AP Business NewsBrief at 9:46 a.m. EST
[February 21, 2013]

AP Business NewsBrief at 9:46 a.m. EST

(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Claims for US jobless aid suggest modest hiringWASHINGTON (AP) _ The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits jumped 20,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 362,000, though it remains at a level that suggests slow but steady improvement in the job market. The Labor Department said Thursday that the four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 8,000 to 360,750, the highest in six weeks. A department spokesman said heavy snowstorms in the Northeast didn't affect the total.

US consumer prices flat in January for 2nd monthWASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. consumer prices were flat last month, the latest sign inflation is in check. That could give the Federal Reserve leeway to continue its efforts to stimulate growth. The consumer price index has risen 1.6 percent in the 12 months ending in January, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's down from a 2.9 percent pace a year ago.

Wal-Mart outlook wary even as profit risesNEW YORK (AP) _ Wal-Mart Stores Inc. offered a weak business outlook Thursday as new economic challenges for its low-income shoppers start to take a toll. The world's largest retailer reported an 8.6 percent increase in profit for the fourth quarter which includes the crucial holiday season. But higher gasoline prices, late tax refunds and the payroll tax increase have it wary about the coming year.

US stocks follow European markets lowerStocks are opening lower on Wall Street as traders worried about a slowdown in Europe's economy and signs that the Federal Reserve might curtail its bond-buying program. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 48 points at 13,878 shortly after the opening bell Thursday.

Safeway 4Q net income jumpsPLEASANTON, Calif. (AP) _ Grocery store operator Safeway's net income jumped 13 percent in the fourth quarter helped by higher gift and prepaid card revenue and a legal settlement. Shares rose 5 percent in premarket trading on the better-than-expected results.

Sony shows PlayStation 4 capabilities, but no boxNEW YORK (AP) _ Sony showed off what the PlayStation 4 can do, but not what it will look like. The Japanese electronics giant talked about its upcoming game console for the first time and said it will go on sale this holiday season.

Private US firms take major role vs. cyberattacksWASHINGTON (AP) _ When Kevin Mandia, a retired military cybercrime investigator, decided to expose China as a primary threat to U.S. computer networks, he didn't have to consult with American diplomats in Beijing or declassify tactics to safely reveal government secrets. He pulled together a 76-page report based on seven years of his company's work and produced the most detailed public account yet of how, he says, the Chinese government has been rummaging through the networks of major U.S. companies.

Linn buying Berry Petroleum for about $2.5BHOUSTON (AP) _ Linn Energy is buying the drilling company Berry Petroleum Co. for stock worth about $2.5 billion. Linn, an oil and gas producer, said Thursday that the deal will broaden its presence in California, the Permian Basin, Texas and the Rockies and boost its production by 30 percent. Its estimated proved reserves will be increased by 34 percent.

ECB: Nearly half of bond holdings from ItalyFRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ The European Central Bank says Italian government bonds account for nearly half of its total holdings under a bond-buying program that it launched in 2010. The ECB on Thursday detailed for the first time what countries' bonds it acquired under the so-called Securities Markets Program, which it started when the euro area's debt crisis first flared in May 2010 and formally ended last September.

NY Times again prepares to sell Boston GlobeLOS ANGELES (AP) _ The New York Times Co. said Wednesday that it is putting The Boston Globe and its related assets up for sale four years after it called off a previous attempt to sell the newspaper. Mark Thompson, the Times' chief executive, said in a statement a sale would be in the best long-term interests of both properties, "given the differences between these businesses and The New York Times." (c) 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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