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Today in business: 5 things you need to know
Jobless claims fall unexpectedly, Samsung's big day arrives, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion
South by Southwest attendees check out the opening day of the Samsung Galaxy Experience.
South by Southwest attendees check out the opening day of the Samsung Galaxy Experience. John Sciulli/Getty Images for Samsung

1. JOBLESS CLAIMS SINK
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped unexpectedly last week, sending the four-week average to a four-week low, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The figures — new claims down by 10,000 to 332,000, instead of up to 350,000 as forecast — added to recent evidence that businesses are slowly gaining strength as Americans continue to spend money despite a two percentage-point increase in the payroll tax that has reduced the size of paychecks this year. Federal cutbacks, though, could force companies to start trimming payrolls again, though. "The labor market is in continued-recovery mode," says economist Scott Brown of Raymond James & Associates, "though there is still a lot of ground to make up." [Bloomberg]
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2. GALAXY FANS AWAIT SAMSUNG UNVEILING
Samsung's big day is finally here. The South Korean company is unveiling the new version of its wildly popular Galaxy S smartphone this evening in a widely publicized and hotly anticipated event at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Samsung has been teasing the phone, the Galaxy SIV, for weeks, fueling speculation about how it will improve on the Galaxy S III, which has been the best-selling Android smartphone ever. The new phone is rumored to have a larger, higher-resolution screen, a faster processor, and new software features, including eye-scrolling. [ABC News]
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3. GOOGLE FACES A BACKLASH AFTER ANNOUNCING END OF GOOGLE READER
News junkies are venting at Google on Thursday, after the internet search giant announced that it would shut down its web-feed aggregator, Google Reader, on July 1. "Google is evil," tweeted Reuters' Felix Salmon. Google said the move was due to declining usage, which made Google Reader a prime candidate to get the boot as the company tries to focus on fewer products that have more impact. Google Reader fans promptly began exchanging recommendations for services, such as Feedly, that could serve as a replacement. [Reuters, USA Today]
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4. MORTGAGE RATES SHOOT HIGHER
Mortgage rates increased sharply this week, with the typical rate on a 30-year loan jumping to 3.63 percent from 3.52 percent a week ago, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, known as Freddie Mac, reported Thursday. Last fall, mortgage rates dipped to 3.31 percent, an all-time low. Rates have risen as solid economic data boosted investor enthusiasm for riskier bets, such as stocks, and cooled their enthusiasm for bonds, which drives up borrowing costs as the government has to offer higher rates for its bonds. "When major stock market indicators run at or near record highs," says Keith Gumbinger, vice president of mortgage surveyor HSH.com, "it's a fair bet that mortgage rates won't be running toward record lows." [Los Angeles Times]
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5. MCDONALD'S BETS ON HEALTHIER BREAKFASTS
McDonald's is trying to boost faltering sales by going after health-conscious morning customers with a leaner version of its popular Egg McMuffin breakfast sandwich — the Egg White Delight. It will contain bacon and white cheddar on a whole grain English muffin. Without the egg white — which contains 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 213 milligrams of cholesterol, and 60 calories — the new sandwich will have just 250 calories. Junk food fans needn't fear, though. The burger chain is also bringing back its Shamrock Shake for St. Patrick's day. The minty green shake, a cult favorite since 1970, comes in at 530 calories. [CNN]

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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