RSS
Today in business: 5 things you need to know
Jobless claims fall, Google Maps returns to iPhones and iPads, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion
The next, even bigger thing? General Motors unveils its 2014 Chevrolet Silverado in Detroit on Dec. 13.
The next, even bigger thing? General Motors unveils its 2014 Chevrolet Silverado in Detroit on Dec. 13.
Facebook.com/ChevyTrucks

1. JOBLESS CLAIMS HIT A TWO-MONTH LOW
In two hopeful signs for a slowing economy, the federal government reported Thursday that new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to nearly their lowest level since the recovery began, and retail sales climbed in November after dipping the month before. The number of new jobless claims fell last week by 29,000 to a seasonally adjusted 343,000, the lowest total in two months. Shoppers buying electronics and cars defied fears among economists that consumers are holding back as they brace for tax hikes and government spending cuts in 2013 if lawmakers can't make a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. "The details look pretty solid," economist Ryan Sweet of Moody's Analytics tells Bloomberg News. "The consumer is continuing to support the recovery." [Reuters]
………………………………………………………………………………

2. GOOGLE MAPS RETURNS TO iPHONE
Facing public outrage over its faulty map app, Apple has caved and allowed Google Maps onto the latest versions of its iPhones and iPads. Apple bumped Google's popular and free mapping application off the iPhone 5, replacing it with its own mapping software on the latest incarnations of its ubiquitous mobile devices. Critics complained that Apple's app gave unreliable results for landmark searches and sometimes faulty directions. Apple CEO Tim Cook was forced to make a rare apology to users, and several executives involved in developing the map software have since left the company. [Bloomberg News]
………………………………………………………………………………

3. SPRINT OFFERS TO COMPLETE CLEARWIRE TAKEOVER
Sprint Nextel is offering to pay $2.1 billion to buy out Clearwire's minority shareholders, a deal that would give Sprint total control of the struggling wireless provider, Sprint said in a regulatory filing Thursday. Sprint, the nation's third largest carrier, already owns 51 percent of Clearwire, and it's offering $2.90 a share for the rest. Clearwire's board has not approved the sale yet. The news comes as no surprise; although Sprint has faced financial trouble, too, it got an infusion of cash when Softbank of Japan bought 70 percent of the company for $20 billion. Taking over Clearwire would give Sprint more space in the airwaves for data services. [Associated Press]
………………………………………………………………………………

4. EUROPEAN LEADERS STRIKE LANDMARK BANKING DEAL
Eurozone finance ministers agreed Thursday to give the European Central Bank direct supervision of the region's 100 to 200 largest banks, and the power to get involved in all of the region's 6,000 banks should broader problems arise. The accord could take years to implement, but European leaders hailed the decision, saying it would free lenders from political interference and show that eurozone countries are doing everything they can to maintain the viability of the European common currency in the face of a crippling debt crisis. "This is an accord that creates true bank supervision," said Pierre Moscovici, the French finance minister. "Step by step, we are resolving the crisis in the eurozone." [New York Times]
………………………………………………………………………………

5. GM SHOWS OFF NEW TRUCKS
General Motors is unveiling new, more muscular versions of its lucrative Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickups on Thursday in what could be the automaker's biggest test since its bankruptcy and $50 billion bailout in 2009. GM has bet heavily on the upgraded trucks, according to analysts, investing $3 billion to $4 billion to develop them and revamp the plants that build them. Current versions of these vehicles yield $12,000 or more per vehicle in profits, accounting for 60 percent of GM's global profit. But No. 2 U.S. automaker Ford's F-150 truck is the industry's best seller, so GM has some catching up to do. GM's bankruptcy delayed upgrades — its last big truck redesign came in 2006 — and gave its rivals a competitive advantage. [Reuters]

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week