Jobless claims up

Weekly applications for unemployment benefits leaped 38,000 to a seasonally adjusted 368,000, the U.S. Labor Department said. The government will release its January jobs report today. Analysts forecast that it will show employers added 155,000 jobs.

Gas prices rising

Gasoline prices are getting an early start on their annual spring march higher. The average U.S. retail price rose 13 cents over the past two weeks to $3.42 per gallon. In a few days, it will likely set a record for this time of year.

Beer merger disputed

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit to stop Anheuser-Busch InBev’s proposed $20.1 billion purchase of Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo, which would bring together the owners of popular beers, such as Budweiser and Corona. The government said the deal could lead to higher beer prices by reducing competition in the U.S. market.

Johnson honored

Lisa Johnson, president of Lisa Johnson Communica-tions in Linwood, has been named one of New Jersey's 2013 Best 50 Women in Business by business magazine NJBIZ. The honors, selected by an independent panel of judges based on dedication to business growth, accomplishments and community involvement, will be presented in March in Somerset, Somerset County.

Consumer spending

The Commerce Department said Thursday that consumer spending rose 0.2 percent last month, compared with a 0.4 percent increase in November. Income jumped 2.6 percent in December from November, the biggest gain since December 2004.

Md. casino plan

The owner of the Rocky Gap Lodge & Golf Resort in western Maryland hopes to have a casino open in late May with 558 slot machines and 10 table games. Tim Cope, president of Evitts Resort LLC, told a state commission the company also plans to begin construction on new meeting space at the facility near Cumberland, Md., around the time the casino opens.

Labor backs off

Labor groups said they will end their picketing at Walmart stores for at least 60 days as part of a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board. The discounter had complained that United Food and Commercial Workers International Union-backed demonstrations threatened to disrupt its business and intimidate patrons and workers.

Loan rate rises

The average U.S. rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage rose this week to its highest level in four months but remains low by historical standards. Freddie Mac said the rate on the 30-year loan increased to 3.53 percent from 3.42 percent last week.

Twinkie bidders

Bankrupt Hostess has selected a $410 million joint offer from investment firms Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Manage-ment LLC as the lead bid for its Twinkies and other snack cakes business and five bakeries.

‘Taco Bell’ chips

Frito-Lay will make Doritos in a ‘Taco Bell’ flavor as a limited-time product this spring. The product aims to capitalize on the popularity of the Doritos-flavored tacos introduced by the fast-food chain last year.