- - Tuesday, January 15, 2013

MENLO PARK, Calif. — Facebook unveiled a search feature that will put the world’s largest online social network more squarely in competition with Google and other rivals such as Yelp and LinkedIn.

Called “graph search,” the service unveiled Tuesday lets users quickly sift through their social connections for information about people, interests, photos and places. It will help users who, for instance, want to scroll through all the photos their friends have taken in Paris or search for the favorite TV shows of all their friends who happen to be doctors.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg stressed that “graph search” is different from an all-purpose search engine, but if the new search tool works the way Facebook envisions, users should be able to find information they want to see on their own instead of relying on the social network’s formulas to pick which posts and pictures to display in their feed.

DEBT

Global credit agency warns U.S. risks new downgrade

LONDON — The United States could lose its top credit rating from a second leading agency if there is a delay in raising the country’s debt ceiling, Fitch Ratings warned Tuesday.

Congress has to increase the country’s debt limit, which effectively rules how much debt the U.S. can have, by the end of February or face a potential default, Fitch says.

MANUFACTURING

Automakers strike deal
to build Jeeps in China

DETROIT — Fiat S.p.A., Chrysler Group LLC and a Chinese automaker have signed an agreement to expand manufacturing in China and build Jeeps for sale in that market.

The deal was announced Tuesday as Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. discussed its plans during press days at the North American International Auto Show.

INTERNET

Wikipedia group launches user-built Web travel guide

SAN FRANCISCO — The foundation behind crowd-sourced knowledge compendium Wikipedia on Tuesday launched a free online travel guide built collaboratively by volunteers from around the globe.

Wikimedia Foundation rolled out Wikivoyage.org as its popular online encyclopedia celebrated its 12th birthday. It said the travel guide was debuting with 50,000 articles in more than a half-dozen languages.

STOCKS

Consumer report sparks bounce after early losses

NEW YORK — Stocks edged higher on Wall Street after a rally in retail stocks offset concerns about flaring tensions in Washington over increasing the country’s borrowing limit.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day up 27.57 points at 13,534.89. The Dow moved higher in the late afternoon after being down as much as 62 points in the early going.

The Standard and Poor’s 500 index rose 1.66 points to 1,472.34, a five-year high. The Nasdaq composite index, dragged down by a fall in Apple Inc., fell 6.72 points to 3,110.78.

Retail stocks moved higher throughout the day, boosted by a report that showed retail sales increased in December, helping the major indexes reverse early losses.

ENTERTAINMENT

Video-game world set for Disney, Pixar characters

LOS ANGELES — The Walt Disney Co. revealed plans Tuesday to launch “Infinity,” a new gaming platform that will place Disney and Pixar characters in a sprawling virtual world where they can race cars and play games.

“Infinity” will be available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Wii U, Nintendo 3DC, PC, online and on tablets and smartphones. It is being crafted by Disney-owned developer Avalanche Software, which created the 2010 game based on “Toy Story 3.” That game’s “toy box” mode served as inspiration for what eventually became “Infinity.”

MEDIA

Public relations visionary Daniel Edelman dies at 92

A New York native who built one of the world’s top public relations companies died Tuesday at a Chicago Hospital. He was 92.

Daniel J. Edelman is credited with developing many of the methods now standard in the field such as the use of celebrity endorsements.

EUROPE

German economy shrank in Q4 in face of euro crisis

FRANKFURT, Germany — Germany’s economy has fallen victim to economic problems hitting the rest of the eurozone and shrank in the fourth quarter of 2012, preliminary numbers show.

The German economy grew by a modest 0.7 percent in 2012 — well below the 3 percent growth seen in 2011 and suggests the economy contracted in the last three months of the year, according to government figures released Tuesday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports