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Cold weather causes factory output to drop PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by JOSH BOAK, AP Economics Writer   
Friday, 14 February 2014 10:30

WASHINGTON (AP) — Harsh winter weather led to a steep drop in U.S. factory output in January. Manufacturers made fewer cars and trucks, appliances, furniture and carpeting, as the recent cold spell ended five straight months of increased production

The Federal Reserve says factory production plunged 0.8 percent in December, reversing gains of 0.3 percent in both December and November. Automakers lost days of production because of snowstorms, as their production plummeted 5.1 percent.

Overall industrial production, which includes manufacturing, mining and utilities, fell 0.3 percent in January. Output for utilities rose 4.1 percent last month as the freezing temperatures boosted heating demand.

Factories responded to the weather by running at a lower 76 percent capacity, a 0.7 percentage point drop over the month and 2.7 percentage points below the long-run average.


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Debt vote in Senate kept from public view PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press   
Friday, 14 February 2014 07:27

WASHINGTON (AP) — Financial markets were watching, the retirement accounts of millions of Americans on the line.

Nervous senators were watching too, well aware that political fortunes could be on the line.

So on perhaps the most important vote of the year, the Senate did something extraordinary this week: It tried to keep the vote tally secret until the outcome was assured.

As lawmakers voted Wednesday on must-pass legislation to increase the government's debt limit, they dropped the parliamentary equivalent of a curtain on the voting as it was in progress.

Typically, roll-call votes in the Senate play out in a very public manner. People watching from the galleries or tracking action from afar via C-SPAN can watch democracy unfold in all its messy wonder.

Each senator's vote is announced by the clerk; each time a senator switches sides, that's announced too. Onlookers can keep a running tally of how it's going.

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Tweet this: Olympians turn medals into buzz, money PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by JOHN LEICESTER, AP Sports Writer   
Friday, 14 February 2014 10:10
SOCHI, Russia (AP) — When Jenny Jones won Olympic bronze at the Sochi Games, her following on Twitter exploded. The audience for @jennyjonessnow has grown 10-fold, to 65,000 followers, in the three weeks since the British snowboarder tweeted: "Just found out I officially made the GB winter Olympic team. Whoop!"

Olympic success is also working wonders for @sagekotsenburg. The U.S. snowboarder's account had 13,645 followers when he got the gold in slopestyle and tweeted: "WOW!! I just won the Olympics!!" That number grew to 14,196 in 30 minutes, 16,697 in an hour, 40,791 in 24 hours and to nearly 64,000 by Friday.

Vacuuming up followers on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms is the smart play for Olympians at the Sochi Games. Athletes who catch and ride the once-every-four-years wave of social media interest in all things Winter Olympics, sharing pictures, thoughts and stories from their privileged backstage access at the games, could come home from Russia with stronger hands to woo new sponsors or squeeze more money from existing ones.

"They only have one shot at getting in the zeitgeist," says Walter Delph, CEO of Adly, which helps brands build buzz via social media movers and shakers. His advice to Olympians: "Grab the followers, grab the volume now because that is the best opportunity."

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Comcast-TWC merger worries, outrages consumers PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by RYAN NAKASHIMA, AP Business Writer   
Friday, 14 February 2014 07:25

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Comcast and Time Warner Cable regularly rank at the bottom of the pay TV industry when it comes to customer satisfaction. So it didn't take long for customers to vent frustrations online over high prices, spotty service and fears of a monopoly after Comcast announced its $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable.

Outrage that these two big cable companies would join hands to form an even more massive entity spurred a cascade of sarcastic tweets and satirical memes: the killer Death Star battle station from "Star Wars," the evil Eye of Sauron from "The Lord of the Rings," and a "South Park" snippet where character Eric Cartman and friends are tormented by cable employees before a logo curiously similar to Time Warner Cable's own.

Consumers weren't buying the assertion of Comcast CEO Brian Roberts that the combination, which will have 30 million TV and Internet subscribers, would be "pro-consumer and pro-competitive."

Using a contorted logic, the two companies are expected to argue to anti-trust regulators that the fact they don't directly compete against each other in many parts of America shows the deal won't reduce competition and therefore should be approved.

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