US economy adds 74K jobs; rate falls to 6.7 pct.
WASHINGTON (AP) — It came as a shock: U.S. employers added just 74,000 jobs in December, far fewer than anyone expected. This from an economy that had been adding nearly three times as many jobs for four straight months — a key reason the Federal Reserve decided last month to slow its economic stimulus.
Economists struggled for explanations: Unusually cold weather. A statistical quirk. A temporary halt in steady job growth.
Blurring the picture, a wave of Americans stopped looking for work, meaning they were no longer counted as unemployed. Their exodus cut the unemployment rate from 7 percent to 6.7 percent — its lowest point in more than five years.
Friday's weak report from the Labor Department was particularly surprising because it followed a flurry of data that had pointed to a robust economy.
Target: Breach affected millions more customers
NEW YORK (AP) — Fallout from Target's pre-Christmas security breach is likely to affect the company's sales and profits well into the new year.
The company disclosed on Friday that the massive data theft affected millions more shoppers than the company reported in December. As a result of the breach, millions of Target customers have become vulnerable to identity theft, experts say.
The nation's second largest discounter said hackers stole personal information — including names, phone numbers as well as email and mailing addresses — from as many as 70 million customers as part of a data breach it discovered last month.
Target announced on Dec. 19 that some 40 million credit and debit card accounts had been affected by a data breach that happened between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15. Some overlap exists between the two data sets, the company said.
Obama picks ex-Bank of Israel head as No. 2 at Fed
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama took a step Friday toward reshaping the Federal Reserve under incoming chairman Janet Yellen, choosing a leading expert on the global economy to be her vice chairman.
Obama said he will nominate Stanley Fischer, a former head of the Bank of Israel, for the No. 2 job at the Fed.
Fischer, a dual citizen of the United States and Israel, was a long-time professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Departing Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Mario Draghi, the current head of the European Central Bank, were among his students.
Obama also is nominating Lael Brainard as a Fed governor. Brainard served as the undersecretary for international affairs at Treasury during Obama's first term. She left the administration recently. He also is renominating Jerome Powell to the Fed for a second term.
All three nominations must be confirmed by the Senate.
Pork producers call for more humane treatment
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The yearslong call by animal rights groups to improve conditions on American hog farms advanced considerably this week when two of the country's biggest meat companies urged producers to change how pregnant sows are housed, and one announced it wanted to stop the practice of killing sick or injured animals by "manual blunt force."
Tyson Foods sent new animal welfare guidelines to its 3,000 independent hog suppliers on Wednesday — roughly six weeks after gruesome video from an Oklahoma farm showed some animals being struck with bowling balls and others being slammed onto a concrete floor. And Smithfield Foods announced Tuesday it would ask growers to move pregnant sows from gestation crates to group housing by 2022.
The change in corporate policy comes after decades of lobbying and protests from animal rights groups and a trend that saw more food retailers and restaurant chains moving away from suppliers who implemented the controversial hog-raising practices on farms.
Court to rule on television over Internet service
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will decide whether a startup company can offer live television broadcasts over the Internet without paying fees to broadcasters.
The high court agreed on Friday to hear an appeal from television broadcast networks in their attempt to shut down Aereo Inc., which takes free signals from the airwaves and sends them over the Internet to paying subscribers.
Broadcasters have sued Aereo for copyright infringement. The big networks have supplemented their advertising revenue with fees from cable and satellite TV companies for redistributing their stations to subscribers. If customers drop their pay-TV service and use Aereo, broadcasters would lose some of that revenue.
Aereo claims what it is doing is legal because it has thousands of tiny antennas at its data centers and assigns individual subscribers their own antenna. According to Aereo, that makes it akin to customers picking up free broadcast signals with a regular antenna at home.
Gadget Watch: The desk that tells you to stand up
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Sitting down all day is bad for you, or so doctors say. There's been a burst of interest in standing desks, but they're not that easy to use, and it's hard to motivate sitters to stand.
Stir, a company founded by a former Apple engineer, says it has the answer: A table that will nudge you to stand, with a gentle, one-inch rise and fall of its surface. If you take the suggestion, the table rises to standing height.
The table is controlled from a color touch screen. It looks as though someone has hammered an iPhone into the table's surface. To change between sitting and standing positions, you tap it twice. You can program it to make you stand, say, 35 percent of the time. A hidden heat sensor helps the desk determine whether you're there.
The screen also controls the table's Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections. They don't do much right now, but the plan is for the table to connect to your smartphone to track your sitting and standing periods.
One day, it'll also connect fitness bands such as the Fitbit to help the table figure out when you should be sitting and standing.
Proposed Medicare drug change stirs access worries
WASHINGTON — In a move that some fear could compromise care for Medicare recipients, the Obama administration is proposing to remove special protections that guarantee access to a broad selection of three classes of drugs — widely used antidepressants, antipsychotics and drugs that suppress the immune system in organ transplants.
The administration says the change will save millions of dollars without jeopardizing patients, but patient advocates say it guts longstanding protections.
By The Associated Press=
The Dow Jones Industrial average fell 7.71 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to close at 16,437.05. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 4.24 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,842.37. The Nasdaq composite rose 18.47 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,174.66.
Benchmark U.S. oil for February delivery gained $1.06 to $92.72 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Wholesale gasoline added 3 cents to $2.67 a gallon. Natural gas was flat at $4.05 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil gained 2 cents to $2.94 a gallon. Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, gained 65 cents to $106.61 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.