GDP revised upward

The economy grew at an annual rate of just 0.1 percent from October to December, a government report Thursday showed. That’s only slightly better than the Commerce Department’s previous estimate that the economy shrank at a rate of 0.1 percent. Economists said the weakness was caused by steep defense cuts and slower company restocking, which are volatile. 

Jobless claims drop

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The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell by 22,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 344,000, indicating that the job market may be picking up. The four-week average of applications dropped 6,750 to 355,000, the Labor Department said.

Dow near record

The Dow Jones industrial average came within 15 points of its all-time high Thursday afternoon. But the momentum petered out, and the Dow and other indexes broke a two-day winning streak and closed lower.

N.H. casino benefit

New Hampshire’s net benefit could be zero if a proposed casino is built in the southern part of the state in competition with one in Massachusetts once social and regulatory costs are counted, according to a study. The New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies released its analysis on what would happen if the state authorizes one casino to be built requiring a $500 million investment and authorizing 5,000 video slot machines.

Mortgage rate falls

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage declined to 3.51 percent from 3.56 percent last week. That’s near the 3.31 percent rate reached in November, the lowest on records dating to 1971.

Oil, gas prices lower

The price of oil fell 71 cents to finish at $92.05 a barrel as commodities retreated. Gasoline pump prices fell for only the third time in the last 41 days, and only slightly. The average for a gallon of gas slid to $3.782 a gallon from $3.786.

Penney shares drop

Shares of J.C. Penney Co. declined nearly 17 percent, the largest decline on the Standard &Poor’s 500 index Thursday. The drop came a day after the department-store chain reported its fourth consecutive larger-than-expected quarterly loss on another steep sales decline.

Sears loss narrows

Sears narrowed its fiscal fourth quarter loss as it reduced expenses and improved sales a little at its namesake stores. The results offer a glimmer of hope for a troubled department store chain that still has a long way to go to turn around its Sears and Kmart stores.

Hostess bread buyer

Hostess is choosing Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo as the buyer for its Beefsteak bread brand. Hostess said a $31.9 million bid by the maker of Entenmann’s cakes beat out another offer by Flowers Foods, which makes Tastykakes and Nature’s Own bread.

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