Business news briefs
Retail sales up
U.S. consumers increased their spending at retail businesses in December, buying more autos, furniture and clothing. Steady job growth and lower gas prices kept consumers shopping for the holidays. The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.5 percent in December from November, slightly better than November's 0.4 percent increase and the best showing since September.
A failure by Congress to raise the debt limit "in a timely manner" could lead to a downgrade of the nation's AAA credit rating, Fitch Ratings said. It said a repeat of the bitter 2011 brinkmanship that led to a last-minute increase of the debt ceiling would trigger a formal review of the U.S. credit rating because it would raise doubts about the ability of policymakers to agree on ways to reduce the deficit.
down last month
Falling food and gas costs pushed down U.S. wholesale prices last month for the third month in a row, the latest evidence inflation is tame. The Labor Department says the producer price index dropped 0.2 percent in December, following a decline of 0.8 percent in November. The index measures price changes before they reach the consumer.
rose in November
U.S. companies increased their inventories at steady pace in November from October, responding to a solid increase in sales. Business stockpiles grew 0.3 percent in November, matching the October gain, the Commerce Department said. Sales rose 1 percent in November, the best showing since September's 1.2 percent rise. In October, sales fall 0.3 percent, reflecting in part disruptions by Superstorm Sandy.
Bank to report on
The board of JPMorgan Chase voted to release a report detailing the bad bet and related management missteps that cost the bank more than $6 billion. Since announcing the losses in May, JPMorgan Chase has worked to move beyond the fiasco. The losses stemmed from a bungled derivatives bet by the bank's Chief Investment Office, a little-known unit with offices in London and New York.
S. Africa platinum
mine to shut down
The world's largest platinum producer said it will close some operations, sell one mine in South Africa and cut 14,000 jobs, just months after mining strikes killed dozens of people. Anglo American Platinum said a yearlong review found four mine shafts needed to be closed and one mine sold because of unprofitable operations. The National Union of Mineworkers expressed shock at the announcement.
Apple shares fell $15.83, or 3.2 percent, on Tuesday to close at $485.92. It was the first time in almost a year that Apple shares traded below $500. The company's stock slumped 3.6 percent a day earlier over concern that demand for its newly released iPhone 5 is slowing.
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