- - Thursday, September 22, 2011

UNEMPLOYMENT

Fewer people applied for jobless benefits

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell last week, though the decline isn’t enough to signal improvement in the job market.

Weekly applications dropped by 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 423,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The four-week average, a less volatile figure, rose slightly for the fifth straight week to 421,000.

Applications typically need to fall below 375,000 to signal sustainable job growth. They haven’t been that low since February.

CALIFORNIA

Hewlett-Packard names Meg Whitman as CEO

SAN FRANCISCO — Hewlett-Packard named Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO and California candidate for governor, its new CEO on Thursday, forcing aside Leo Apotheker after just 11 months on the job.

Ms. Whitman is getting the nod because there are few available people with the ability to run complex technology businesses, a source familiar with the matter told the Associated Press.

Mr. Apotheker is being removed because the board lost confidence in his ability to lead the company long-term, not because of any particular strategy decision, added the person, who was not authorized to speak on behalf of HP and therefore spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Wall Street Journal and the AllThingsD websites, citing anonymous sources, had earlier reported the change.

MORTGAGES

Rate on 30-year fixed remains at 4.09%

Fixed mortgage rates hovered at record lows for a third straight week. They are likely to fall even further now that the Federal Reserve said it would shuffle its holdings to drive down long-term interest rates.

The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage was unchanged at 4.09 percent this week, Freddie Mac said Thursday. That’s the lowest rate seen since 1951.

The average rate on the 15-year mortgage ticked down to 3.29 percent. Economists say that’s the lowest rate ever for the loan.

INTERNET

Facebook redesigns profiles, adds ‘timeline’

NEW YORK — Facebook is dramatically redesigning its users’ profile pages to create what CEO Mark Zuckerberg says is a “new way to express who you are.”

Mr. Zuckerberg introduced the Facebook “timeline” Thursday in San Francisco at the company’s f8 conference for some 2,000 entrepreneurs, developers and journalists. The event was broadcast to tens of thousands of online viewers.

The timeline is reminiscent of an online scrapbook, with the photos and text that users have shared on Facebook over the years.

AUTOS

Chrysler-UAW talks collapse over new workers

DETROIT — Negotiations over a new four-year contract between Chrysler and the United Auto Workers have broken down as both sides refuse to budge on key financial issues, two people briefed on the bargaining said Thursday.

The talks ended late Wednesday in a dispute over the number of workers who are paid an entry-level wage, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private. Chrysler factories continue to operate under a contract extension.

Chrysler Group LLC, which is losing money, wants no limit on entry-level workers. The union wants a cap on the number of those workers, who make $14 to $16 an hour, about half what a longtime union employee earns. “There was a line drawn in the sand,” one of the people said. “Somebody’s going to have to give.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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