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Jobless claims post fourth steep decline

WASHINGTON – Initial claims for unemployment benefits posted their fourth straight big decline last week to their lowest level since early October as the impact of Superstorm Sandy on the jobs market continued to dissipate.

There were 343,000 new jobless claims in the week that ended Saturday, down 29,000 from the previous week’s revised level, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The drop was larger than economists had forecast.

The less-volatile four-week average also dropped, to 381,500 from the previous week’s reading of 408,500.

Initial unemployment claims are now back to about the same level they were before Sandy hit the Northeast on Oct. 29-30. Economists say that claims below about 350,000 a week are consistent with strong jobs growth.

Google Maps launches new app for iPhones

SAN FRANCISCO – Google Maps has found its way back to the iPhone.

The world’s most popular online mapping system returned late Wednesday with the release of the Google Maps iPhone app. The release comes nearly three months after Apple Inc. replaced Google Maps as the device’s built-in navigation system and inserted its own map software into the latest version of its mobile operating system.

Apple’s maps application proved to be far inferior to Google’s, turning what was supposed to be a setback for Google into a vindication.

The product’s shoddiness prompted Apple CEO Tim Cook to issue a rare public apology and recommend that iPhone owners consider using Google maps through a mobile Web browser or seek other alternatives until his company could fix the problems. Cook also replaced Scott Forstall, the executive in charge of Apple’s mobile operating system, after the company’s maps app became the subject of widespread ridicule.

Schulze’s Best Buy offer expected soon

Best Buy Co. founder Richard Schulze will make a fully financed offer to purchase the consumer electronics giant by the end of the week, possibly on Friday, the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune has learned.

Schulze will submit a formal proposal to the board of directors before a “hard” deadline of Sunday, said one source. The offer is expected to be at least $5 billion to $6 billion.

“This is going down to the wire,” the source said.

Over the past weekend, Schulze and his team secured agreements to finance the deal from bankers and private equity investors, which includes Cerberus, Leonard Greene & Partner and the Texas Pacific Group, the source said.


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