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Today in business: 5 things you need to know
The FAA launches a review of Boeing's Dreamliner, the U.S. trade gap widens unexpectedly, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
A Boeing 787 Dreamliner takes off in Los Angeles.
A Boeing 787 Dreamliner takes off in Los Angeles. David McNew/Getty Images

1. FAA LOOKS INTO BOEING'S TROUBLED NEW DREAMLINER
The Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday that it is launching a comprehensive review of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner after a string of problems. In one case this week, a fire broke out aboard one of the jumbo jets as it sat empty. There were two fresh incidents in Japan — a cracked cockpit in one Dreamliner, and an oil leak in another. The review will focus on the aircraft's electrical components, but will also cover all aspects of its design and production. The Dreamliner is a new aircraft, and many newly introduced models have suffered glitches in the past. Despite the investigation, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta assured travelers his agency believes "this is a safe aircraft." [NBC News]
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2. TRADE GAP WIDENS UNEXPECTEDLY
In a surprise to economists, the U.S. trade deficit widened in November by 16 percent, hitting $48.7 billion. Analysts had been expecting the deficit to shrink to $41.3 billion, reflecting higher sales of increasingly affordable U.S. exports. That's "not good news" for economic growth at the end of 2012, said economist Peter Cardillo of Rockwell Global Capital in New York. When a country buys more than it sells, money gets siphoned out of its economy. On the bright side, one reason for the change was that Americans snapped up inexpensive foreign goods for the holidays and foreign cars in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, a hopeful sign that consumers are feeling more confident and spending. [Reuters]
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3. WARM WEATHER SPELLS CHEAPER FUEL
Most analysts expect unusually mild winter weather to drive down natural gas costs next week as people in many parts of the U.S. turn off their heaters. Temperatures in the East are expected to be above normal for five days, and the warm spell is expected to endure in the South until Jan. 19. On the other side of the world, China hasn't been so lucky. It's enduring its coldest winter in nearly three decades, which pushed inflation to a seven-month high in December as vegetable prices soared. [Bloomberg, Los Angeles Times]
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4. FORD GOES ON A HIRING SPREE
Ford announced Friday that it is adding 2,200 salaried jobs this year, the automaker's biggest white-collar hiring binge in more than a decade. Ford says it needs everything from engineers to computer software experts in a push to develop new vehicles to suit shifting driver demands. "As we expand our product lineup of fuel-efficient vehicles, we need more people in critical areas to ensure we deliver the vehicles people want," said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford operations in North and South America. [CNN]
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5. KICKSTARTER STARTUPS SOAR
Crowdfunding website Kickstarter reports that its 2.2 million members pledged more than $319 million to startups last year, a 221 percent jump from the year before. The money helped launch more than 18,000 creative projects. And Kickstarter's entrepreneurs are setting their sites higher and higher. There were 17 projects that raised more than $1 million in 2012, and none before that. Pebble, the site's biggest project to date, raised $10.3 million to produce a digital watch that can be customized with a range of smartphone-like features, such as alerting wearers when they get tweets. Pebble, like many Kickstarter ventures, was slow to deliver. It originally said it would start shipping in September, but announced Friday at the Consumer Electronics Show that it would deliver its first watches later this month. [Washington Post]

 

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