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Today in business: 5 things you need to know
Apple works on a newfangled TV prototype, import prices fall, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Reduced fuel and food prices have helped bring about the steepest drop in import prices in five months.
Reduced fuel and food prices have helped bring about the steepest drop in import prices in five months. AP Photo/Alex Brandon

1. APPLE REPORTEDLY WORKING ON A TV
Apple is working on a prototype for a device that some say could change the way we watch television, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. "It isn't a formal project yet. It is still in the early stage of testing," a source told the Journal. The iPhone and iPad maker is reportedly collaborating with Sharp and Apple supplier Hon Hai, also known as Foxconn, to come up with a design. It's not clear yet whether the device will be a new kind of TV set, or a suped-up version of Apple TV, a set-top box Apple is already selling. Technology venture capitalist Marc Andreessen speculated at the Dealbook conference that an Apple TV would be on the market by 2015 at the latest, and possibly even by the end of next year. [Wall Street Journal]
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2. FALLING IMPORT PRICES KEEP INFLATION AWAY
Import prices recorded their steepest drop in five months in November, as food and fuel prices fell, the Labor Department said Wednesday. "The global economy is restraining prices here and abroad," says economist Gus Faucher of PNC Financial Services. That's both good and bad. It indicates that global demand is soft, underscoring the weakness of the global economy. But it also "adds to the perception that inflation is not a concern," says Faucher. And as long as prices aren't rising, the Federal Reserve will be able to continue keeping interest rates at historic lows to put more money into the economy and nurse the recovery. [Reuters]
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3. FED ANNOUNCES FURTHER STIMULUS
In a widely anticipated move, Federal Reserve policy-makers decided on Wednesday to buy $45 billion a month in long-term Treasury bonds to stimulate the still-struggling economy, replacing a similar program that is expiring. The Fed also said it would continue buying $40 billion a month in mortgage-backed securities. With the unemployment rate still hovering at 7.7 percent and anxiety rising over the looming "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled for 2013, the climate is ripe for fresh action from the Fed to encourage the recovery, says Victor Li, a Villanova Business School professor and former St. Louis Fed economist. The Fed cut overnight interest rates to near zero in December 2008 and, since then, has bought about $2.4 trillion in securities to keep down borrowing costs and strengthen the recovery. [Reuters]
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4. FACEBOOK JOINS NASDAQ 100
Facebook shares got a moderate boost on Wednesday as the social-networking powerhouse began trading as the newest member of the closely-watched Nasdaq 100. The index — a collection of the 100 most valuable non-financial stocks — is the benchmark for 7,100 investment products worth $1 trillion. Facebook's addition to the Nasdaq 100 could not have come at a better time, as the company's stock, currently priced at $28.03 a share, has fallen sharply since it went public in May at $38 a share, although it has rebounded since hitting bottom at $17.73 in September. Investors have recently expressed optimism over the company's strides toward making money off its mobile users. [USA Today]
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5. AVON CUTS 1,500 JOBS
Avon announced Wednesday that it will trim 1,500 jobs over the next year in an effort to make its global operations leaner. The company, a direct seller of beauty products, plans to pull out of countries where it's doing poorly, including South Korea and Vietnam, so it can focus on faster growing "high priority" markets. Avon has been bleeding active representatives, and its sales have suffered accordingly. The company last month reported an 81 percent drop in third-quarter profits, and said it had a three-year plan to lower costs by $400 million and restore growth. The cutbacks announced Wednesday will account for about 20 percent of those savings, CEO Sheri McCoy said. [FOX Business]

 

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