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Today in business: 5 things you need to know
Regulators clear Google in antitrust probe, Tory Burch becomes a billionaire, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Princess of Preppy Tory Burch is now worth $1 billion, at least on paper.
Princess of Preppy Tory Burch is now worth $1 billion, at least on paper. WWD/Condé Nast/Corbis

1. REGULATORS CLEAR GOOGLE IN ANTITRUST CASE
The Federal Trade Commission, after a two-year investigation, has determined that Google didn't violate antitrust laws by delivering search results that highlight its own services. The decision, released Thursday, constitutes a major victory for Google and allows it to avoid a costly and lengthy battle similar to the one Microsoft fought in the 1990s. That antitrust battle helped competitors challenge Microsoft's tech dominance, and now the weakened software giant is among the loudest voices complaining that Google is using its ubiquitous search engine to unfairly squelch competition. [New York Times]
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2. OFFICIAL DATA CONFIRM HIRING HELD STEADY DESPITE FISCAL CLIFF
Labor Department figures released Friday confirmed what private analysts reported this week: Employers shrugged off the looming fiscal cliff in December and continued to gradually hire more workers. Businesses added 155,000 jobs in the month, close to expectations, leaving the unemployment rate essentially unchanged, at 7.8 percent, from revised numbers for November. The new hiring was consistent to the gradual gains posted throughout 2012, which economists said would slowly but steadily bring down the unemployment rate. [Washington Post]
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3. TORY BURCH BECOMES A BILLIONAIRE (ON PAPER)
The former husband of fashion designer Tory Burch has sold nearly half of his 28 percent stake in her company in a deal that makes her a billionaire. Tory and Chris Burch opened their first store in New York in 2004, and divorced two years later. The company, which sells high-end women's clothing and accessories, has since grown into a retail juggernaut, with 80 Tory Burch retail stores and other displays in other outlets, including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Bloomingdale's. Chris Burch sold off part of his stake to settle the former couple's legal squabble, fetching a price that values Tory Burch's 28-percent stake at $935 million. [Bloomberg]
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4. WHITE HOUSE SIGNS OFF ON OBAMACARE INSURANCE EXCHANGES
The Obama administration on Thursday approved another seven states' plans to set up health-insurance exchanges designed as a key part of President Obama's health-reform law. The White House has now signed off on the plans submitted by 17 states and Washington, D.C. The exchanges will serve as "a kind of Travelocity" to help individuals and businesses find the best deals on health coverage. The exchanges are due to start enrollment on Oct. 1, so consumers will be able to use federal subsidies to buy insurance on the exchanges by Jan. 1. Most states didn't submit plans to run their own marketplaces, so they'll have to either partner with the federal government or let the Obama administration establish their exchanges for them. [Washington Post]
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5. SERVICE INDUSTRY GIVES ECONOMY YEAR-END BOOST
U.S. service industries expanded in December at their best pace in 10 months, giving the struggling economy a lift heading into 2013, according to the Institute for Supply Management. The improvement, spurred by a better-than-expected holiday shopping season and an improving housing market, was critical, as non-manufacturing industries account for 90 percent of the economy. "The economy is going to do better in 2013," says economist Brian Jones of Societe Generale in New York. "The service sector seems to be fine." [Bloomberg]

 

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