The average number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits over the past month fell to the lowest level since March 2008, a sign that the job market is slowly healing. The Labor Department said weekly applications dropped 12,000, to a seasonally adjusted 350,000. That brought weekly jobless claims down to the level that economists say is consistent with moderate job growth.
Americans bought new homes last month at the fastest pace in two and a half years, further evidence of a sustained housing recovery, the Commerce Department said. Sales of new homes rose 4.4 percent in November from October, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 377,000. Sales also have increased 15.3 percent over the past year, although they remain below the 700,000 economists consider healthy.
to go public
Looks like Shamu may soon be making a splash in the stock market. SeaWorld Entertainment has filed for an initial public offering of stock that could raise $100 million. Private equity firm Blackstone Group, which owns SeaWorld, may sell some of its stake but will still own a majority interest after the IPO.
Apple CEO pay
modest in 2012
Apple CEO Tim Cook got a relatively modest $4.2 million in pay for the latest fiscal year, after the company's board set him up with stock now worth $510 million for taking the reins in 2011. Cook's pay for fiscal 2012 consisted of $1.4 million in salary, a bonus of $2.8 million, and $17,000 in company contributions to his 401(k) account.
on the rise
The tastes of the reading public are turning digital. A Pew Internet Research Center survey found the percentage of Americans aged 16 and older who read an e-book grew from 16 percent in 2011 to 23 percent this year. Readers of traditional books dropped from 72 percent to 67 percent.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority says five of the country's largest banks will pay $4.5 million to settle claims they used municipal and state bond funds to pay lobbyists. It said from 2006 to 2010 Citigroup, Goldman, JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley made payments to a California lobbying group and asked the payments be reimbursed as underwriting expenses from bond offerings.
2013 sales to rise
Toyota expects to sell a record 9.7 million vehicles this year, bouncing back by 22 percent from a disaster-struck 2011. It has set an even higher target of 9.91 million vehicles for 2013. The numbers released this week underline Toyota Motor Corp.'s solid turnaround from supply disruptions caused by the earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan in 2011 that hurt global production.