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Today in business: 5 things you need to know
Fitch says the sequester won't spark a U.S. credit downgrade, Ikea's horsemeat troubles grow, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Ikea's horse-meat problem has extended from meatballs to sausages.
Ikea's horse-meat problem has extended from meatballs to sausages. Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

1. FITCH SAYS SEQUESTER WON'T LEAD TO A CREDIT DOWNGRADE
The federal government's top-notch AAA credit rating won't be downgraded if Congress lets painful automatic spending cuts take effect on March 1 as scheduled, Fitch Ratings said Tuesday. The across-the-board spending reductions, known as the sequester, would trim the budget by $85 billion in 2013 and by $1.2 trillion over a decade. The U.S. is still in danger of losing its AAA status, though, if lawmakers can't agree on "a credible medium-term deficit reduction plan" this year to keep the nation's debt from getting out of control, the ratings agency said. [Bloomberg]
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2. APPLE UNVEILS CLOUD PLAYER FOR IPAD
Amazon on Wednesday finally launched a version of its Cloud Player app for the Apple iPad and iPad Mini. The online retail giant released a version of the music-streaming app for the iPhone and iPod last summer. The widely anticipated iPad-friendly update is an important part of Amazon's strategy to broaden its user base so it can sell more digital music, videos, and books. "Our goal is to make Cloud Player the most widely compatible cloud playback solution available," says Steve Boom, vice president of digital music for Amazon, "giving our customers the ability to buy their music once and enjoy it everywhere." [PC Magazine]
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3. REGULATORS BLOCK RYANAIR PURCHASE OF RIVAL
The European Commission on Wednesday blocked Ryanair's third bid to buy Aer Lingus, saying that a merger of the two Irish airlines would reduce competition and drive up ticket prices for flights to and from Ireland. Aer Lingus, which has rejected Ryanair's offers, praised the decision. Ryanair, an upstart budget carrier, said it would appeal to the European Court of Justice to revive the $900 million takeover, accusing regulators of protecting Aer Lingus, Ireland's national flag carrier, simply because they didn't want it to be taken over by a budget upstart airline. [New York Times]
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4. IKEA'S HORSE-MEAT TROUBLES WIDEN
Ikea has stopped the sale of sausages in stores in five European countries on Wednesday due to concern they might contain horse meat. The home furnishings giant also extended a ban, first imposed in Europe, on sales of its popular Swedish meatballs, saying they would now be pulled from shelves in Thailand, Hong Kong, and the Dominican Republic, too. The company launched a review of all of its beef and pork products after finding traces of horse meat "in a handful" of hundreds of tests. [Bloomberg]
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5. FORMER BUD FANS ACCUSE BREWER OF WATERING DOWN ITS BEER
Two Philadelphia men, Thomas and Gerald Greenberg, have filed a $5 million lawsuit against Anheuser Busch InBev, Budweiser's parent company, accusing the company of watering down 10 of its brews, including Bud and Michelob, to rip off consumers. The Greenbergs say the practice began when Anheuser-Busch merged Belgian-Brazilian InBev in 2008, forming the world's largest brewer and launching a flurry of cost-cutting. The company calls the charge "completely false." [The Week, BBC News]

 

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