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Southeast snowstorms distort jobless data

WASHINGTON – The number of people applying for unemployment benefits rose sharply last week, but the figures were largely distorted by rare snowstorms that swept through the Southeast.

Applications surged last week by a seasonally adjusted 51,000 to 454,000, the highest level since late October, the Labor Department said Thursday.

A government analyst said that a major reason for the spike was the harsh weather in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. That forced many companies to shut down temporarily and also prevented many people from applying for benefits in the previous week.

When state offices, which had closed, reopened and people were able to file applications, that pushed the number of requests up sharply, the analyst said.

The four Southern states reported large increases in the number of requests for unemployment benefits. Many economists consider data in January less reliable because of seasonal fluctuations.

Associated Press

Verizon to buy Terremark Worldwide

NEW YORK – Verizon Communications Inc. said Thursday it is buying Terremark Worldwide Inc., a provider of information technology services, for $1.4 billion in cash.

Verizon plans to pay $19 per share for Terremark Worldwide Inc. That represents a 35 percent premium to Terremark’s closing stock price on Thursday before the deal was announced. Terremark’s shares jumped $5.06, or 36 percent, to $19.11 in after-hours trading as a result.

Terremark provides “cloud” computing services, which lets companies store data and software on remote servers instead of their own computers. It also provides technology infrastructure services.

Verizon expects to close the tender offer late in the first quarter.

Associated Press

Report of business split hurts Sara Lee stock

NEW YORK – Sara Lee Corp.’s stock sank in trading Thursday on reports that it is likely to split its business after offers from potential buyers fell short of its expectations.

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources it did not name, reported that Sara Lee is expected to separate its coffee and meat businesses. It would be easier for suitors to finance a deal for parts of Sara Lee instead of the whole company, which could cost nearly $13 billion at the price it reportedly has sought.

The food maker said Thursday that it would hold a webcast this morning to update investors on its strategy, as well as offer its financial outlook for 2011.

Shares of Sara Lee fell 88 cents, or 4.8 percent, to end regular trading Thursday at $17.64. They fell another 20 cents after hours.

Associated Press

Officially, it’s now NBCUniversal

LOS ANGELES – NBC Universal is now NBCUniversal – without the space, the peacock or the globe silhouette.

That was part of the message delivered to the company’s 25,000 employees at a town hall gathering on Thursday that featured top executives from prospective new owner Comcast Corp.

The bird will remain part of the NBC brand while the spinning globe will still be Universal’s graphic for consumers. And officially, the company’s name is still NBC Universal. Comcast will take a 51 percent stake in NBC Universal today after a yearlong regulatory review resulted in government conditions that prevent it from impeding the growth of online video services such as Netflix and Hulu.

Associated Press


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