Napster, the company that famously kicked off the now decades-long battle over digital music rights, will cease to exist on Thursday, as it will be merged with Rhapsody, the largest on-demand music service in the US. Rhapsody announced in October it had reached a deal to purchase an array of Napster assets from Best Buy, including its subscriber base. In return, Best Buy, which paid $121 million for Napster in 2008, will receive a minority stake in Rhapsody. Financial terms of the Napster deal were not disclosed.
The Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday that applications for US home loans dipped for a third straight week last week as demand for refinancing loans fell despite a slight decline in interest rates. The group's seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, covering requests for home purchase loans and refinancing applications, fell some 11.7 percent in the week ended November 25th.
US stocks soared Wednesday after the Federal Reserve unveiled a joint initiative with other central banks to intervene on behalf of struggling European banks. All three major indexes gained more than 4 percent on the day, with the Dow Jones enjoying its biggest one-day gain since March 2009. The intervention by the central banks gave investors renewed hope that world leaders would take whatever action was necessary to limit the impacts of the ongoing eurozone debt crisis.
Google launched a new version of its Maps service Tuesday that will allow mobile device users to view indoor floor plans of large buildings such as malls and airports. Google Maps 6.0 is available for Android devices, and allows users to see the entire layout of a mapped building, locate points of interest like specific retail stores or bathrooms, and even switch between floor plans in structures that have multiple levels.
Hundreds of thousands of British workers went on strike Wednesday to protest proposed reforms to government pensions. Workers walked off the job all across the public sector, affecting schools, hospitals, and even police departments. Government officials said that most key public services remained operational, although more than half of Britain's schools were closed. Union officials said that as many as 2 million workers may go on strike earlier this week, although preliminary reports show the number is likely lower.
Twitter announced on Wednesday it has formed a partnership with mixi Inc., Japan's largest social network, in an effort to more effectively compete with Facebook. For Twitter, the partnership could symbolize a new strategy for the San Francisco-based microblogging site as it seeks to accelerate global growth. mixi makes perfect sense as a partner for Twitter as Japan is the company's second-biggest market behind the US, and has often served as a testing ground for new Twitter offerings.
The Federal Communications Commission announced on Wednesday it is granting a request from AT&T to officially withdraw its application to acquire T-Mobile in a merger that would have thrust AT&T ahead of Verizon as the largest US wireless provider. The FCC also released a 109 page report detailing its findings over the last nine months while reviewing the proposed deal.
A collection of six central banks, including the US Federal Reserve, took action on Wednesday to make it easier for struggling European nations to acquire financing. Working with the central banks from the European Union, England, Japan, Switzerland and Canada, the Fed announced a coordinated plan to lower prices on dollar liquidity swaps beginning on December 5th and extending through February 1st, 2013.
Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported Wednesday that planned layoffs fell 13 percent on a year-to-year basis in November to 42,474, indicating the economy is improving enough to deter companies from reducing payrolls. For the year, however, there have been 563,297 planned layoffs, more than all of last year's total of 529,973. A separate report from ADP added to the labor market optimism, showing that private employers added more than 200,000 jobs this month.
Payrolls processor ADP reported Wednesday that the private sector added 206,000 jobs this month, the biggest one month gain in the private sector since last December and well ahead of the gain of 130,000 projected by economists. The report also included a revision of October's private sector job growth, which was revised from a previously reported gain of 110,000 to growth of 130,000.