- - Sunday, February 26, 2012

SURVEYS

Economist poll still sees slow recovery

NEW YORK | Economists are increasingly confident that some pillars of the economy will improve this year, but they remain cautious in their expectations on the overall pace of economic growth.

The National Association for Business Economics said Monday that forecasters have raised their expectations for employment, new home construction and business spending this year.

But they held on to their average prediction that the nation’s gross domestic product, or GDP, will grow at a rate of 2.4 percent. That’s a slight improvement from 2011, when economists believe the economy grew 1.6 percent. Final economic growth numbers for 2011 are expected Wednesday.

The latest forecast is in line with one issued by the group in November that called for the economy to grow 2.4 percent this year. Forecasters predict growth will be stronger in the second half of 2012 than it will be through June.

NABE economists see the unemployment rate sticking at 8.3 percent this year, matching January figures. That’s an improvement over their November forecast of 8.9 percent. Unemployment peaked at 10 percent in October 2009. The economists expect job growth to accelerate next year, and forecast that the unemployment rate will fall to 7.8 percent.

TECHNOLOGY

Judge favors AT&T user in ‘throttling’ lawsuit

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. | When AT&T Inc. started slowing down the data service for his iPhone, Matt Spaccarelli, an unemployed truck driver and student, took the country’s largest telecommunications company to small claims court. And won. His award: $850.

Pro-tem Judge Russell Nadel found in favor of Mr. Spaccarelli in Ventura Superior Court in Simi Valley last week, saying it wasn’t fair for the company to purposely slow down his iPhone, when it had sold him an “unlimited data” plan.

Mr. Spaccarelli could have many imitators. AT&T has some 17 million customers with “unlimited data” plans who can be subject to throttling. That’s nearly half of its smartphone users. AT&T forbids them from consolidating their claims into a class action or taking them to a jury trial. That leaves small-claims actions and arbitration.

Late last year, AT&T started slowing down data service for the top 5 percent of its smartphone subscribers with “unlimited” plans. It had warned that it would start doing so, but many subscribers have been surprised by how little data use it takes for throttling to kick in - often less than AT&T provides to those on limited or “tiered” plans.

ENERGY

Average gas prices rise 18 cents in two weeks

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