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Today in business: 5 things you need to know
Apple shares fall sharply, jobless claims drop to a five-year low, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Despite record iPhone and iPad sales, Apple's investors are disappointed.
Despite record iPhone and iPad sales, Apple's investors are disappointed. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

1. APPLE STOCK PLUMMETS
Apple's stock dropped by 11 percent in early trading Thursday after the company released its quarterly results, even though the company's $13.1 billion in net profit beat Wall Street estimates. Apple sold a record number of iPhones (47.8 million) and iPads (22.9 million). Investors, however, are worried that Apple looks like it won't be able to sustain its meteoric growth as it faces rising competition from Samsung, Google, and other rivals, and as it experiments with cheaper devices that will offer smaller profit margins. [New York Times]
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2. JOBLESS CLAIMS FALL TO LOWEST LEVEL IN YEARS
The Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits has sunk to the lowest level since January 2008. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the weekly number to inch higher, to 355,000. Instead, it fell by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 330,000. The news came as manufacturing data indicated that activity at U.S. factories picked up at the fastest pace in two years. "The economy's doing better," said economist Michael Strauss of Commonfund in Wilton, Conn. [Reuters]
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3. OBAMA PICKS EX-PROSECUTOR TO WATCH WALL STREET
President Obama has picked former federal prosecutor Mary Jo White to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a White House official. Obama is expected to announce the nomination Thursday afternoon. Obama is also re-nominating another former prosecutor, Richard Cordray, to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Cordray has led for a year as a recess appointee. The choices, the White House official said, will ensure that in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, "Wall Street is held accountable and middle-class Americans never again are harmed by the abuses of a few." [New York Times]
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4. UNEMPLOYMENT HITS NEW HIGH IN SPAIN
Spain's unemployment rate rose by one percentage point, to 26 percent, in the final quarter of 2012, its highest level since measurements began in the 1970s. The country has been struggling through a recession since late 2011 — its second since 2009 — and its economy shrank at the fastest pace since the downturn began in late 2012, partly due to deep government spending cuts. Six million of the nation's workers are now out of work, and "we haven't seen the bottom yet," says Citigroup strategist Jose Luis Martinez. [Reuters]  
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5. NETFLIX SOARS ON UNEXPECTED PROFITS
Netflix stock went on its biggest tear ever on Thursday, climbing by 43 percent after the company beat its own forecast for subscriber growth and posted an unexpected profit. Netflix, the world's largest online-video service, signed up just over 2 million new subscribers to its streaming video service in the final three months of 2012, bringing its domestic total to 27 million online customers. Analysts had been expecting a loss; instead, Netflix reported net income of 13 cents a share. [Bloomberg]

 

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