Digest

Jobless claims at lowest level since August '08

A customer shops at the Apple Store in Glendale, Calif.
A customer shops at the Apple Store in Glendale, Calif. (Fred Prouser)
Friday, December 17, 2010

Fewer workers than forecast filed claims for unemployment benefits last week, pointing to a drop in firings that signals improvement in the U.S. job market.

Applications for jobless insurance payments fell by 3,000 to 420,000, sending the average over the past four weeks to the lowest level since August 2008, according to data from the Labor Department issued Thursday. The four-week moving average of claims, a less volatile measure, decreased to 422,750, the lowest since the week ended Aug. 2, 2008.

Home builders in November began work on more homes for the first time in three months, showing the industry is struggling to recover, Commerce Department figures showed. Housing starts rose to a 555,000 annual rate, up 3.9 percent from the previous month. Building permits, a proxy of future work, fell, reflecting a drop in applications for multifamily projects.

- Bloomberg News

LEGAL

Nokia presses patent suits against Apple

Nokia, the world's largest manufacturer of cellphone handsets, is suing Apple in Britain, Germany and the Netherlands for allegedly infringing its patents with technology used in the iPhone, the iPad and the iPod Touch.

The complaints, filed in October through December, follow earlier lawsuits by Nokia claiming that a broad swath of Apple products violate its patents. The actions "add 13 further Nokia patents to the 24 already asserted against Apple in the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Delaware and Wisconsin Federal courts," Nokia said in a statement Thursday.

In October 2009, Nokia filed its first patent-infringement claim against Apple in Delaware.

Apple declined to comment Thursday on Nokia's latest move. Last week it filed a countersuit claiming that the Finnish company was infringing 13 Apple patents.

- Associated Press

BANKING

Bank of America in talks with investors

Bank of America is talking further with a group of angry investors, including the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Blackrock, who are pressing the bank to buy back billions of dollars of busted mortgage securities.

The two sides might be exploring a settlement after the investors sent a letter Oct. 17 demanding Bank of America respond by a set of deadlines to concerns the bank has mishandled mortgages that were bundled into $47 billion of bonds.

Those deadlines have now been extended as both sides agree to continue "constructive dialogue," according to Bank of America in a statement. The bank's chief executive, Brian Moynihan, had initially vowed to "diligently fight" the investors' claims loan by loan.

- Jia Lynn Yang

Also in Business

l Heater recall: Wal-Mart Stores is recalling about 2.2 million electric heaters because they may overheat, burn or melt, causing fires, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said.

Wal-Mart received 21 complaints about the appliances, including the Flow Pro, Airtech, Aloha Breeze and Comfort Essentials heaters, the CPSC said Thursday. Consumers should stop using the heaters immediately and return them to a store for a full refund, the agency said.

In 11 cases, there was property damage beyond the heaters themselves, the agency said. Four people were injured, including three who needed medical attention. The heaters were sold exclusively at the chain and were tested to comply with safety standards before being sold, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman said.

- Bloomberg News


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