Business briefs: Apple cuts prices on some iPads, iPhone 5c

  • Updated: March 18, 2014 - 8:48 PM

Apple cuts prices on some iPads, iPhone 5c

As Google’s Android operating system chips away at Apple’s market share in tabloids and smartphones, the world’s most valuable company announced that a newer iPad model will be offered at a reduced price and a cheaper iPhone is on sale in certain markets outside the United States. In a news release, Apple Inc. said that it would begin offering its fourth-generation iPad, introduced in late 2012, at $399 and up, the price at which it had been selling the iPad 2. The newer iPad model has Apple’s Retina high-definition display and faster A6X chip, and it uses the same Lightning charge cord as newer iPhone and iPad models. In addition, Apple told media outlets that it had begun selling a version of the iPhone 5c with less memory in Europe and other parts of the world for a lower price.

Consumer prices tick up as food leads way

Cheaper energy kept U.S. consumer prices in check last month, despite a big rise in the cost of food, the latest sign that inflation is tame. The consumer price index rose 0.1 percent in February, matching January’s increase, the Labor Department said Tuesday. In the past 12 months, prices have risen just 1.1 percent, down from 1.6 percent in January and the smallest yearly gain in five months. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices rose 0.1 percent last month and 1.6 percent in the past year. Energy prices fell 0.5 percent because lower gasoline and electricity costs offset higher prices for natural gas and heating oil. Clothes and used cars were also cheaper last month. Still, consumers took a hit at the grocery store as food costs rose 0.4 percent, the most in nearly 2½ years.

Housing starts flatten as building firms up

Housing starts in the U.S. were little changed in February after declining less than previously estimated a month earlier, indicating the homebuilding industry is stabilizing after bad winter weather curbed construction. The 0.2 percent decrease to 907,000 homes at an annualized rate last month followed a revised 909,000 pace in January, figures from the Commerce Department showed. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey called for a 910,000 rate after a previously reported 880,000 in January. Warmer temperatures, a pickup in demand during the spring selling season and limited housing supply may help fuel further gains in residential construction. The outlook for the industry later this year depends on whether hiring picks up enough to overcome higher mortgage rates and home prices.

Google, Viacom settle lawsuit over YouTube

Google and Viacom settled Viacom’s $1 billion lawsuit claiming YouTube violated copyrights by letting users post video clips from television shows without authorization after a federal judge twice threw out the allegations. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Viacom originally sued in 2007, claiming that YouTube users were illegally uploading thousands of videos of Viacom TV shows and Paramount movies.

Block cheddar cheese prices reach a record

Cheddar cheese is hot right now. The spot price for block cheddar cheese hit its highest point ever, $2.40 a pound, Monday and Tuesday on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Wisconsin is the top cheddar producer in the U.S., with production approaching 600 million pounds — about 20 percent of the nation’s cheddar cheese, according to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. The prices are being fueled by export demand, said Eric Meyer, president of the dairy trading division at HighGround Trading Group in Chicago.

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