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Today in business: 5 things you need to know
Jobless claims hit a four-month high, Japan's stimulus boosts stocks, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index gained 272.34 points to 12,634.54, April 4.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index gained 272.34 points to 12,634.54, April 4. AP Photo/Koji Sasahara

1. JOBLESS CLAIMS RISE FOR THIRD STRAIGHT WEEK
First-time applications for unemployment benefits jumped to a four-month high last week, the Labor Department reported on Thursday. The increase of 28,000 brought the seasonally adjusted total to 385,000, which surprised economists, who had expected the number to inch down to 350,000. This marks the third straight weekly increase, suggesting that the labor market recovery lost strength in March. "It does look like recently we've seen some stalling in job creation, or at least a stalling in the lowering of claims," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Group. [Reuters]
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2. JAPAN'S CENTRAL BANK ANNOUNCES A MASSIVE NEW STIMULUS
U.S. stocks got a boost in early trading Thursday from a decision by Japan's central bank to stimulate its economy with an aggressive push to double the amount of money in circulation by buying up bonds over the next two years. Japan's benchmark Nikkei index finished the day with 2.2 percent in gains. Analysts described Japan's move as a bold effort to end years of falling prices. The Bank of Japan aims to restore a healthy 2 percent inflation rate "at the earliest possible time," it said. "This is monetary easing in an entirely new dimension," said the bank's new governor, Haruhiko Kuroda. [MarketWatch, New York Times]
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3. REPORT: APPLE PREPARING TO LAUNCH iTV
A research analyst says Apple is planning to start selling a 60-inch "iTV" later this year. Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets wrote in a research note on Wednesday that the set, which also might come in slightly smaller versions, would come with an "iRing" that will fit on a viewer's finger, and let the user control the TV by pointing at the screen. White also said the set would come with iPad-sized "mini iTVs" with 9.7-inch screens, which will receive video wirelessly around the house from the main TV. [Huffington Post]
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4. ENRON'S SKILLING MAY BE RELEASED EARLY FROM PRISON
Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, who is serving 24 years in prison for misleading the energy company's investors, is negotiating with the Justice Department to be released early, according to a government website. Skilling's lawyers have pursued several appeals, and a federal appeals court panel said in 2009 that his sentence was too harsh and should be recalculated. That process has been held up by the uncertainty created by his legal team's maneuvers — Skilling's lawyers are expected to file a motion as soon as next month accusing the Enron task force of misconduct. A deal to reduce his prison time would settle the matter, as neither side would be able to challenge it. [CNBC]
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5. LULULEMON EXECUTIVE LEAVES AFTER SEE-THROUGH PANTS FIASCO
Lululemon Athletica's chief product officer, Sheree Waterson, is leaving the company, an apparent casualty of a production foul-up that forced the company to pull some of its popular yoga pants from its stores because they were too see-through. Lululemon said in March that a production error left some of its black Luon pants unacceptably sheer. The company said on Wednesday, however, that the fabric may have met testing standards, although just barely, so it's establishing new tests and tweaking its specifications for better quality control. [Fox Business]

 
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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