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Business briefs, June 9

Business briefs, June 9
Published: June 8, 2012
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Business Briefs

Nation

Jobless numbers drop

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell last week for the first time in five weeks. But the drop suggests only modest job growth after three months of weak hiring. The Labor Department said Thursday that applications for weekly benefits dropped by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 377,000. That's down from an upwardly revised 389,000 the previous week. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose by 1,750 to 377,500, the highest level in a month.

Virgin to sell iPhone

Virgin Mobile USA, one of Sprint's brands for prepaid, no-contract phone service, said Thursday that it will start selling the iPhone on June 29, charging $549 for a basic model. The high price of the phone comes with an upside: service will start at $30 per month. That means the phone, plus two years of service, will cost $1,269, excluding taxes. That's nearly $800 less than a subscriber would pay for the same phone, an iPhone 4 with 8 gigabytes of memory, if buying it under the Sprint Nextel Corp. brand. Sprint charges $100 for the phone and $80 per month for service, excluding taxes. However, the high initial cost of the phone is likely to be an obstacle. Virgin Mobile sells other smartphones for as little as $80.

Facebook App Center set

There's more to Facebook apps than “Angry Birds” and Pinterest, but many users wouldn't know that because there hasn't been a good, central way to find them. Facebook Inc. is trying to change that. On Thursday, Facebook is beginning to roll out its App Center to its nearly 1 billion users, so they can find games and other applications with social components more easily. The App Center, available on Facebook's website and on Apple and Android mobile devices, will recommend apps to users based on their interests, the types of apps their friends like, or the apps they have liked in the past. Many people are introduced to Facebook apps in the form of sometimes-annoying requests from their friends for poker partners, Scrabble buddies or neighbors on virtual farms. Those requests haven't necessarily matched a user's specific interests. The new App Center will initially feature about 600 Facebook apps, mostly games.

Best Buy founder resigns

The founder and outgoing chairman of Best Buy announced his resignation from the board Thursday and said he may sell off his 20.1 percent stake in the beleaguered electronics retailer. It's the latest news to hit the Minneapolis company facing increasing competition from online retailers and a CEO scandal, and it removes one obstacle for a possible private equity takeover of the company. Shares fell nearly 8 percent in morning trading. Richard Schulze, 71, has been with the company since its inception in 1966 and is its largest shareholder by far. Fidelity Management & Research Co., has the second-largest stake with 6.9 percentof the company.

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