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Today in business: 5 things you need to know
The New York Stock Exchange gets bought, economic growth picks up (for now),  and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
The New York Stock Exchange is getting new owners.
The New York Stock Exchange is getting new owners. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

1. ENERGY EXCHANGE BUYS NYSE
IntercontinentalExchange Inc. (ICE) has agreed to buy NYSE Euronext, owner of the New York Stock Exchange, in a cash and stock deal worth $8.2 billion that will end more than two centuries of independence for the nation's best known stock market. ICE, a 12-year-old energy and commodity futures exchange based in Atlanta, is paying $33.12 a share — 38 percent above the iconic Big Board's Wednesday closing price. The deal puts the world's second largest futures exchange in charge of the biggest equities market, demonstrating both the growing importance of derivatives and waning influence of the 220-year-old NYSE. [Washington Post]
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2. ECONOMIC GROWTH PICKS UP
The economy beat forecasts by growing at a 3.1 percent annual rate in the third quarter, according to Commerce Department figures released on Thursday. That's up from the 2.7 percent pace reported in November, thanks to government spending and a stronger than expected jump in exports. That's the good news. The bad news is that a slowdown in global demand should make the uptick in exports burn out quickly, just as tax hikes and the federal government's belt tightening — due to the automatic spending cuts of the fiscal cliff or the deficit-reduction deal to avoid it — drains hundreds of billions of dollars out of the economy. [Reuters]
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3. JOBLESS CLAIMS RISE, BREAKING STREAK
First-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits rose last week by 17,000, to 361,000. It was the first increase in five weeks, but analysts said the sobering news confirmed that the recovery needs to grow stronger — and Congress needs to strike a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff — before companies feel confident enough to take on more workers. "We're not waiting to see much more improvement on the layoff side," says RBS Securities economist Omair Sharif. "We're just waiting for the hiring side to get going." [Bloomberg Businessweek]
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4. APPLE SUFFERS ANOTHER PATENT LOSS
Patent authorities invalidated Apple's "pinch-to-zoom" patent on Wednesday in a decision that, while not definitive, marks the iPhone and iPad maker's second recent setback in its legal wrangling against rival smartphone and tablet powerhouse Samsung Electronics. Investors have been driving down Apple's once high-flying stock price in recent months over concerns that Samsung and other competitors making devices using Google's Android platform are chipping away at Apple's dominance. "Pinch-to-zoom" was one of the patents that were contested in an August case in which a jury awarded Apple $1 billion in damages, saying that Samsung had copied some iPhone and iPad features. [Reuters]
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5. HOME SALES HIT A POST-RECESSION HIGH
Sales of existing homes jumped to their highest rate in three years in November, the National Association of Realtors reported Thursday. Sales rose by 5.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million, exceeding forecasts of 4.9 million. "Momentum continues to build in the housing market from growing jobs and a bursting out of household formation," the industry association's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said. There have been other positive signs recently, such as improving sentiment among homebuilders, but the housing industry continues to face an uphill fight against stubborn high unemployment and the tightening of lending standards that followed the bursting of the housing bubble. [MarketWatch]

 

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