RSS
Today in business: 5 things you need to know
Consumer prices fall, Google Maps tops iTunes charts, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion
Californians pump gas: A drop in gas prices eased some of the strain on household budgets in November.
Californians pump gas: A drop in gas prices eased some of the strain on household budgets in November. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

1. FACTORIES RECOVER AFTER HURRICANE SANDY
U.S. industrial production made its biggest jump in two years in November, as manufacturers hit hard by Hurricane Sandy bounced back. Revised figures show that factory output dropped by 1 percent in October — a decline blamed on the superstorm — but increased by 1.1 percent last month, which was more than economists had predicted. The bad news: Factoring out the post-Sandy recovery of plants making cars, appliances, and other products, and the manufacturing picture remained weak. "Looking beyond Sandy's impact," says economist of BMO Capital Markets, "U.S. manufacturers continue to plod ahead." [Associated Press]
………………………………………………………………………………

2. CONSUMER PRICES FALL
Thanks to sharply falling gasoline prices, consumer prices declined in November for the first time in six months. The drop was modest — 0.3 percent — though, and the so-called core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices, moved 0.1 percent higher, after rising by 0.2 percent in October. The Federal Reserve this week said it would hold interest rates near zero to stimulate the economy until unemployment falls to 6.5 percent or lower, as long as inflation doesn't start to rise. The latest data, says economist Millan Mulraine of TD Securities, is the latest piece of evidence that "inflation is unlikely to become a valid constraint on Fed policy at least for the next year." [Reuters]
………………………………………………………………………………

3. U.S. REJECTS INTERNET TREATY
The U.S. and other Western nations refused to sign a United Nations telecommunications treaty — the first of the internet age. Nearly 90 nations signed the accord, which the head of the U.N.'s International Telecommunications Union says will help expand online services to poorer nations. The U.S. and 20 other nations oppose the treaty, saying it could be used by authoritarian regimes to justify internet crackdowns. "We need to stand firm against those kinds of threats if we want the internet to continue as a vibrant engine for innovation, human rights, cultural, and economic growth," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, whose district includes part of Silicon Valley. [Associated Press]
………………………………………………………………………………

4. WALMART, KROGER EYE TWINKIES MAKER
Walmart and grocery chain Kroger have joined a group of two dozen potential bidders looking into buying up parts of Hostess Brands, which filed for bankruptcy protection last month. Mexico's Grupo Bimbo, the world's largest baking company, and Alpha Banking were among the first potential buyers to step forward. It's unclear which parts of Hostess each bidder wants. The company makes iconic snacks such as Twinkies and Ding Dongs as well as Wonder bread. The bankruptcy, which came after Hostess failed to reach a deal with a striking bakers' union, has left 18,000 jobs in limbo. [FOX Business]
………………………………………………………………………………

5. GOOGLE MAPS TOPS ITUNES CHARTS
After its release in the iTunes store on Thursday, the Google Maps app has gone straight to the top of the store's charts. The highly anticipated app has an average four-and-a-half star rating with 3,000 reviews. The free app includes turn-by-turn navigation, like its Android counterpart, as well as directions for public transport, integrated Street View, and a Google Earth view. [Telegraph]

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week