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Today in business: 5 things you need to know
Jack Lew urges Europeans to avoid austerity, Virgin America comes out on top, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion
Richard Branson's Virgin America did the best job of pleasing customers in 2012, according to a study on the nation's biggest airlines.
Richard Branson's Virgin America did the best job of pleasing customers in 2012, according to a study on the nation's biggest airlines. Michael Buckner/Getty Images

1. LEW URGES EUROPEANS TO FOCUS ON GROWTH, NOT AUSTERITY
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is meeting with Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, on Monday in a bid to get the region's leaders to ease back on the austerity measures they're using to combat their debt crisis. Lew, on his first trip to Europe since his confirmation, plans to visit several influential finance ministers on his four-day trip, and will urge them to focus on policies to spur economic growth instead of spending cuts and tax hikes that critics say have helped destroy the economies of Greece, Portugal, and many other European countries. [New York Times, Yahoo Finance]
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2. VIRGIN AMERICA TOPS AIRLINE RATINGS
Virgin America got top marks in the 23rd annual national Airline Quality Rating study, which ranks the 14 leading carriers based on federal Department of Transportation data, including baggage handling and on-time performance. Virgin America had the best baggage handling rate, with 0.87 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers, while American Eagle had the worst, with 5.80 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers. Overall, United arguably had the roughest year, logging the highest rate of complaints. [Reuters]
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3. NUMBER OF "ZERO TV" HOUSEHOLDS SKYROCKETS
A growing number of Americans are rejecting the 100-plus channel cable- and satellite-TV world, and the $100-plus bills that can come with it, and watching shows exclusively online or even via their smartphones. The Nielsen Co. last month started labeling these viewers "Zero TV" households, because they don't use any of the traditional TV sources. In 2007, there were only two million Zero TV homes. Now there are five million. [Associated Press]
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4. STOCKS PULL BACK AS CORPORATE EARNINGS SEASON STARTS
U.S. stocks sank again on Monday, extending their losses after one of the worst weeks of the year as investors hunkered down for an uncertain barrage of corporate earnings reports. After the markets close Monday, giant aluminum producer Alcoa will launch earnings season when it becomes the first company in the Dow Jones industrial average to report its first-quarter results. Stocks in the Dow and the broader Standard & Poor's 500 index have returned to pre-recession record levels this year, but have lost steam recently as Europe's economic troubles resurfaced, North Korea threatened nuclear war, and soft U.S. economic data suggested the recovery wasn't as strong as many had hoped. [USA Today, CNN]
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5. THIEVES GRAB NUTELLA MOTHERLODE
German police said Monday that thieves had stolen 5.5 tons of Nutella chocolate-hazelnut spread from a parked trailer in the town of Bad Hersfeld over the weekend. The haul was reportedly worth $20,710. In another recent caper, someone absconded with a shipment of energy drinks from the same location. [Associated Press]

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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