Dec. sales rise

Major retailers including Costco, Gap and Nordstrom on Thursday reported better-than-expected revenue in December. Twenty retailers reported that revenue at stores open at least a year — an indicator of a store’s health — rose an average of 4.5 percent in December compared with the same month a year ago, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Pa. slots increase

Pennsylvania’s 11 casinos brought in almost $2.5 billion in gross slots revenue last year, the state control board said, up 2.7 percent from $2.4 billion in 2011. The figures were boosted by Valley Forge Casino Resort, which opened in March. When comparing only the 10 casinos open in both 2011 and 2012, the slots revenue only rose about 1.2 percent.

Google probe

Google is agreeing to license certain patents to mobile-phone rivals and stop a practice of including snippets from other websites in its search results as part of a settlement to end a 19-month investigation into the search leader’s business practices, the Federal Trade Commission said. U.S. antitrust regulators added that they have found no evidence to claims that Google unfairly favors its own services in search results.

Jobs added

Payroll processor ADP said employers added 215,000 jobs in December, up from 148,000 in November. Most economists expect today’s federal jobs report will show employers added roughly 150,000 jobs last month.

Mortgage rate flat

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average rate on the 30-year loan slipped to 3.34 percent from 3.35 percent last week. That’s near the 3.31 percent rate reached in November, the lowest on records dating to 1971.

Fed split on bonds

Federal Reserve policymakers expressed broad support last month for the Fed’s plan to buy bonds to support the U.S. economy. But some thought the bond purchases would be warranted through the end of this year, while others felt they should be slowed or stopped altogether before then.

Hormel buys Skippy

Hormel Foods said it’s buying Skippy, the country’s No. 2 peanut butter brand, in its biggest-ever acquisition. Hormel hopes that Skippy, which it’s buying from Unilever for $700 million, will help it expand at home and overseas.

Subaru recall

Subaru is recalling almost 634,000 cars and SUVs in the U.S. because lights beneath the doors can overheat and catch fire. The recall affects all Outback and Legacy cars from model years 2010 and 2011. Also included are Tribeca SUVs from 2006 through 2012 and Forester SUVs from 2009 through 2012.

Jobless claims rise

The Labor Department said weekly applications rose by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 372,000 in the week ended Dec. 29. The previous week’s total was revised higher.

Mass. gambling

Two companies competing to develop a resort-style casino in Springfield, Mass., turned in detailed plans to the city and submitted applications to the state gambling commission. The filings by MGM Resorts International and Penn National Gaming satisfy two key deadlines as they vie with Mohegan Sun for the sole casino license allocated to western Massachusetts.