Yahoo: Some usernames, passwords stolen

Usernames and passwords of some of Yahoo's e-mail customers have been stolen and used to gather personal information about people those Yahoo mail users have recently corresponded with, the company said. Yahoo didn't say how many accounts have been affected. Yahoo said in a blog post on its breach that "The information sought in the attack seems to be names and e-mail addresses from the affected accounts' most recent sent e-mails." That could mean hackers were looking for additional e-mail addresses to send spam or scam messages. By grabbing real names from those sent folders, hackers could try to make bogus messages appear more legitimate. Yahoo said the usernames and passwords weren't collected from its own systems, but from a third-party database.

U.S. pending home sales sank last month

Contracts to purchase previously owned homes in the U.S. plunged in December by the most since May 2010 as higher borrowing costs and bad weather held back sales. A gauge of pending home sales slumped 8.7 percent after a revised 0.3 percent drop in November that was initially reported as a gain, the National Association of Realtors said. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for the index to drop 0.3 percent. Tight inventory and unusually cold weather discouraged prospective buyers, according to the group. Further gains in hiring, household wealth and consumer confidence would help boost the housing recovery and the economy. Contract signings dropped 6.1 percent from the year prior on an unadjusted basis, the Realtors group reported.

Initial jobless claims rise but remain low

Weekly applications for U.S. unemployment benefits rose 19,000 last week to 348,000, the highest in about a month. But the broader trend in applications remains low. The Labor Department says that the four-week average, a less volatile measure, increased just 750 to 333,000. The increase follows three weeks of declines. The average is close to prerecession levels and suggests that, despite last week's rise, layoffs remain low. Last week's figure may also have been pushed up by cold weather, which can cause construction firms to stop work.

Zynga to cut staff, buy U.K. game developer

Zynga Inc., taking steps to regain its footing in casual video games, will cut 15 percent of its staff and spend $527 million to buy a popular mobile developer. The company narrowed its quarterly loss and the stock soared. Zynga, known for its "FarmVille" and casino-style games, is firing about 314 people, mostly at its San Francisco headquarters. The company agreed to buy U.K.-based NaturalMotion Ltd. for $391 million in cash and 39.8 million shares of Zynga, valued at $136 million based on Wednesday's close. Zynga surged as much as 24 percent to $4.40 in extended trading after the announcement.

Goldman's Blankfein gets restricted stock

Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, is a bit richer this year. The company's board granted Blankfein 88,422 restricted stock units as part of his pay package for his work in 2013, according to a filing. Those shares were worth $14.7 million as of Tuesday, the day he received the grant. Last year, Goldman granted Blankfein $13.3 million worth of stock for performance during the bank's 2012 fiscal year. Goldman will disclose the cash portion of Blankfein's bonus in the coming weeks. Blankfein and other senior executives are typically awarded a 70-30 split between stock and cash.

Chipotle said to consider raising prices

Chipotle's popularity isn't showing any signs of fading, and the Mexican food chain is eyeing whether it can raise prices later this year without scaring off customers. The Denver-based company said that sales rose 9.3 percent at established locations in the final three months of the year. During a call with analysts, Chipotle executives were noncommittal when asked about earlier discussions of a price hike of 3 percent to 5 percent in the second half of the year.