Weekly applications for U.S. unemployment benefits ticked up slightly last week. The Labor Department said applications rose 4,000, to a seasonally adjusted 371,000, the most in five weeks. The previous week's total was revised lower. Weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have fluctuated for most of the past 12 months between 360,000 and 390,000. At the same time, job growth has been stable.
Ford Motor Co. is doubling its quarterly dividend to 10 cents, just nine months after paying its first dividend in more than five years. The automaker said Thursday the payout is part of its goal of delivering profitable growth for all of its stakeholders. The dividend will be paid on March 1 to shareholders of record as of Jan. 30.
U.S. wholesalers boosted their stockpiles by 0.6 percent in November, and their sales rose at the fastest pace since the spring of 2011, encouraging signs for the economy. More restocking leads to more factory production, which boosts economic growth. Faster restocking helped the economy grow at a 3.1 percent annual rate from July through September.
Tiffany & Co., the world's second-largest luxury jewelry retailer, said full-year earnings will be at the low end of its forecast after holiday sales growth slowed in the Americas and Asia. Sales in November and December rose 4 percent, to $992 million worldwide, the New York-based company said. That was slower than the 7 percent gain Tiffany recorded in the same period a year earlier.
Fed pays out
The Federal Reserve paid the federal government a record $88.9 billion in 2012, almost 18 percent more than a year ago. The previous record was $79.3 billion in 2010. The central bank earned the money in part from the Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities it has purchased to drive interest rates lower and boost the economy.
Supervalu to sell
Supervalu Inc. is selling off five of its grocery chains, including Albertson's and Jewel-Osco, after years of being squeezed by intensifying competition. The nation's No. 3 traditional supermarket operator said the $3.3 billion sale of 877 stores to an investor group led by Cerberus Capital Management will also include Acme, Shaw's and Star Market.