BlackBerry denies talking with Samsung

BlackBerry Ltd. denied a report that said it has had talks with Samsung over a possible takeover of the Canadian company. "BlackBerry has not engaged in discussions with Samsung with respect to any possible offer to purchase BlackBerry," the company said. A Reuters report, citing a person that it didn't identify, said that executives met last week to discuss a potential deal. South Korea-based Samsung reportedly offered to buy BlackBerry for $13.35 to $15.49 per share, valuing the company at as much as $7.5 billion. Shares of BlackBerry jumped nearly 30 percent, or $2.89 Wednesday to close at $12.60 but slid 14 percent in after-hours trading after BlackBerry's statement.

Fed's Beige Book finds moderate growth

A Federal Reserve survey showed most regions saw "modest" or "moderate" economic growth driven by gains in consumer spending, while the energy-rich Dallas district slowed as oil prices plunged. "Consumer spending increased in most districts, with generally modest year-over-year gains in retail sales," the Fed said in its Beige Book, based on reports from its 12 districts gathered on or before Jan. 5. The Beige Book offers Fed officials, who meet Jan. 27-28, anecdotal evidence about the state of the economy as they consider when to raise interest rates for the first time since 2006. Oil prices have plunged by more than half since June. The Dallas Fed district said growth "slowed slightly" and that several contacts expressed concern about the effect of lower oil prices on the region. Minneapolis said hiring in the energy-producing regions of North Dakota and Montana slowed as exploration decreased.

Apple, Ericsson suing over patent prices

Apple and Ericsson are suing each other in U.S. courts after failing to reach an agreement over the pricing of wireless-technology patents used by the maker of the iPhone and iPad. Apple, saying that Ericsson is seeking excessive royalty rates, asked a federal court in California to rule that Ericsson's patents aren't essential to long term evolution, or LTE, standards. Stockholm-based Ericsson said it filed a complaint in a district court in Texas, asking for a verdict on whether its fees are fair. While Apple's iPhone and iPad have won over users in recent years, Ericsson helped pioneer the mobile-device market with its handsets in the 1990s. The company sold its mobile-phone business to Sony Corp. in February 2012, five years after Apple introduced the iPhone.

GM sets company record for global sales

General Motors Co. set a company record last year for global sales, but it was outsold by German automaker Volks­wagen AG. Now both companies are waiting to see if Toyota Motor Corp. will retain its global sales crown. Toyota, which is expected to report sales next week, was the world's top-selling automaker in 2012 and 2013. GM sold just over 9.92 million cars and trucks in 2014, up 2 percent from the previous year. Sales rose 14 percent in China and 6 percent in North America, but fell 10 percent in Europe — where GM has begun pulling out the Chevrolet brand — and 15 percent in South America, where sales were hurt by currency fluctuations and other issues. GM fell behind Volkswagen, which sold 10.14 million vehicles last year.

New settlement reached in tech hiring case

A revised settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit alleging Apple and Google conspired with other Silicon Valley companies to block more than 60,000 high-tech employees from getting better job offers. The terms of the new agreement weren't disclosed in a letter filed with an appeals court in San Francisco. Donald Falk, a lawyer who filed the letter on behalf of Google Inc., declined to comment. The new settlement comes five months after U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh rejected an earlier deal that would have required Apple Inc., Google, Intel Corp. and Adobe Systems Inc. to pay $324.5 million to resolve a lawsuit alleging the companies secretly agreed not to recruit each other's workers. Koh concluded the evidence in the case warranted a payment of at least $380 million.

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