ECB unleashes its most aggressive effort to revive economy
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Europe's ailing economy will get a major dose of stimulus from the European Central Bank — a bond buying program designed to make loans and exports cheaper so companies can hire and expand.
Starting in March, the ECB will buy 60 billion euros' worth of government and corporate bonds each month at least through September 2016. The 1.1 trillion euro program was an emphatic signal of the ECB's willingness to do all it can to rejuvenate the economy shared by the 19-nation euro currency alliance.
Euro plunges, but European brands are not on sale in US
NEW YORK (AP) — Americans hoping to save on European goods thanks to a falling euro shouldn't rush to uncork that bottle of French Bordeaux. There's very little to celebrate.
Not since September 2003 has the euro traded this low against the dollar. Still, German sports cars, Belgian beers and the latest fashions out of Italy aren't going on sale anytime soon. The reason? There's simply too much demand in the U.S. for any markdowns.
"The U.S. economy is the one that's doing well in the world right now," notes IHS senior principal economist George Magliano. "We've got a lot of growth in upper-income families and households."
Since Americans are willing — and able — to spend heavily on imported goods, there's no need for companies to cut prices. Any savings thanks to the euro's decline will instead be pocketed by manufacturers and distributors.
No quick fix for battery anxiety but plenty of workarounds
NEW YORK (AP) — At a cozy watering hole in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, bartender Kathy Conway counted four different phone chargers behind the bar.
Call it the scourge of the red zone or battery anxiety. Smartphone users are tired of begging to charge devices behind bars or hunting for outlets in airports and train stations. Where, oh where, is a better battery?
The common lithium-ion battery used to power laptops, cellphones and tablet computers has improved in recent years. Battery capacity has tripled since 1990, says K. M. Abraham, a professor at Northeastern University who researches batteries. But it's not nearly enough to keep up with the needs of gadget addicts who demand thin, lightweight mobile devices and use them constantly.
Still, there are some options.
Companies recently showed off battery chargers and smartphone extenders at the annual gadget show known as CES.
Hard-hit worker wonders where the economic resurgence is
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Ask Joshua Thevenin — who since last month has been a newspaper salesman, fireworks vendor and tele-marketer — what he thinks about assertions the economy is roaring toward recovery and you'll get a sigh and a shake of his head.
Lately, everyone from economists to President Barack Obama himself are bullish on the economy. Labor Department statistics this month showed that a healthy month of hiring in December capped the best year for U.S. job growth since 1999, with nearly 3 million jobs added in 2014.
During the State of the Union speech, Obama acknowledged that "it has been, and still is, a hard time for many."
He added: "But tonight, we turn the page."
But those like Thevenin, who live in the economy's shadows, know that it's difficult to turn the page, much less begin a new chapter when you can't find full-time work.
US jobless aid applications drop for 1st time in 4 weeks
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week for the first time in a month, a sign that layoffs remain low and hiring is probably still healthy.
The Labor Department says that weekly applications dropped 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 307,000. The decline comes after applications spiked the previous week to a seven-month high.
Most of the volatility reflects widespread layoffs of temporary employees hired by retailers, restaurants and other companies for the winter holidays. The government seeks to adjust the data for those seasonal trends, but doesn't always do so perfectly.
Wells Fargo, JPMorgan settle mortgage kickbacks probe