AtlantiCare joins Aetna

AtlantiCare, the Atlantic County-based hospital system, said it will join the provider network of Aetna. The Hartford, Conn.-based insurer provides health benefits to 370,000 people in southern New Jersey, whose use of AtlantiCare’s two medical centers and other locations will be at preferred benefit levels.

Business partners

The Greater Atlantic City Chamber has formed a partnership with the Somers Point Business Association to foster economic development and promote business growth. Chamber President Joseph Kelly said he believes the partnership will be a model for working relationships with other local and municipal business groups.

Wal-Mart hiring plan

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the biggest private employer in the U.S. with 1.4 million workers here, said it is rolling out a three-part plan to help jumpstart the sluggish U.S. economy. The plan includes hiring more than 100,000 veterans in the next five years, spending $50 billion to buy more American-made merchandise in the next 10 years and helping its part-time workers move into full-time positions sooner.

Holiday sales gains

Holiday sales rose 3 percent, the National Retail Federation said, well below its forecast for a slightly better than 4 percent gain. The figures offer the latest evidence that shoppers held back on spending amid economic uncertainty. Holiday sales rose more than 5 percent in 2011 and 2010.

Facebook search

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a new feature called “graph search,” which lets users search their social connections for information about people, interests, photos and places. Zuckerberg said the search feature is “privacy aware,” which means users can search only for content that has been shared with them.

Mass. gambling bids

PPE Casino Resorts MA, an entity affiliated with the Cordish Cos., applied a gambling license in Massachusetts. Two others also joined the seven who applied Monday: The owner of the dog racing Raynham Park, and a group led by Chicago casino and real estate tycoon Neil Bluhm.

U.S. rating warning

The United States could lose its top credit rating if there’s a delay in raising the country’s debt ceiling, Fitch Ratings warned. Fitch already has a negative outlook on the U.S. as the country’s debt burden has risen to around 100 percent of its annual gross domestic product.

Europe’s worst over

The worst of Europe’s debt crisis is probably over, and the odds are no country will drop out of the euro, the credit rating agency Fitch said. Despite its return to recession in 2012, the eurozone is showing signs of improvement in key areas such as economic competitiveness.

Germany shrinks

The German economy grew by 0.7 percent in 2012 — well below the 3 percent growth seen in 2011 and a sign that the economy contracted in the last three months of the year. The German government said that shrinkage could be around 0.5 percent.

Inventories increase

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that business inventories grew 0.3 percent in November, matching the October gain. Sales rose 1 percent in November, the best showing since a 1.2 percent rise in September.