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Today in business: 5 things you need to know
New numbers show the economy didn't shrink in late 2012, coffee farmers riot in Colombia, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Protesters walk along the Pan-American highway in Piendamo, Cauca, Colombia on Feb. 27, the third day of a coffee farmer strike in the region.
Protesters walk along the Pan-American highway in Piendamo, Cauca, Colombia on Feb. 27, the third day of a coffee farmer strike in the region. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga

1. REVISIONS SHOW THE ECONOMY DIDN'T REALLY SHRINK LAST QUARTER
The U.S. economy grew in the fourth quarter, after all. After initial government figures suggested that the nation's gross domestic product had contracted by 0.1 percent at the end of 2012, the Commerce Department reported Thursday that revised data showed that it actually grew, although just barely, by 0.1 percent. The slim expansion of the nation's economic output was still below original forecasts, and it won't be enough to speed up the decline of the unemployment rate. Still, the middling numbers would have been better had it not been for a slowdown in inventory accumulation and a sharp drop in military spending, two factors expected to reverse in the first quarter of 2013. [New York Times]
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2. JC PENNEY FINISHES A DISASTROUS QUARTER
JC Penney's stock plummeted by 17 percent early Thursday in the hours after the company reported quarterly results that capped the worst year in the department store chain's 111-year history. The company, struggling to turn itself around with new pricing and refreshed stores, lost nearly $1 billion, with $551 million of that coming in the crucial holiday period. "We made some big mistakes and I take personal responsibility for this," CEO Ron Johnson said. [Yahoo News]
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3. APPLE ITUNES U HITS DOWNLOAD MILESTONE
Apple's iTunes U has passed a major milestone, topping 1 billion educational downloads, the company announced Thursday. The service features what Apple bills as the world's largest selection of free courses and other educational tools from more than 2,400 universities and other learning institutions. Educators can create iTunes U courses in 30 countries. Still, iTunes U pales in comparison to the popularity of Apple's entertainment services. Last month, Apple announced that iTunes had sold 25 billion songs. [PC Magazine]
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4. BOEING APOLOGIZES FOR DREAMLINER TROUBLES
Boeing executives have told Japan's leading airlines they're sorry for the technical problems that led to the grounding of the aircraft maker's new 787 Dreamliner jets last month. Raymond Conner, head of Boeing's commercial aircraft division, said the incidents, which included overheating lithium-ion batteries, were "deeply regretful." All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines operate nearly half of the 50 Dreamliners delivered to customers so far. "On behalf of the Boeing Company and the 170,000 people which I represent today," Conner said, "I want first to apologize for the fact that we've had two incidents with our two very precious customers, ANA and JAL." [CNN]
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5. COLOMBIA HIT BY COFFEE RIOTS
Striking farmers and other protesters angry over falling coffee prices are clashing with police in Colombia this week. Coffee futures hit $1.435 a pound on Thursday, down 2.5 percent for the month. And that's on the heels of a nearly 37 percent decline last year. Meanwhile, heavy rains, crop disease, and the devaluation of the country's currency have contributed to a sharp decline in Colombia's coffee production. "It's gotten so bad that the land of Juan Valdez is now importing coffee, which would be akin to Saudi Arabia or Iran importing oil," the GlobalPost report said. [MarketWatch]

 

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