4 more cities to get Google Fiber service
After months of speculation, Google confirmed that its ultrafast Internet service will soon be coming to four more cities — Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Nashville, Tenn., and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. Those regions, along with more than a dozen cities in their immediate vicinity, will be the latest to benefit from high-speed Internet provided by the search giant. Google Fiber already sells Internet service with download speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second — roughly 100 times faster than the national average — for $70 a month in Provo, Utah, and other cities.
Consumer confidence reaches 8-year high
U.S. consumers welcomed the new year with a surge in confidence. The Conference Board reported that its consumer confidence index climbed this month to 102.9, highest level since August 2007 — four months before the start of the Great Recession. January's figure was up from a revised 93.1 in December. "Consumers started the year in a buoyant mood," Andrew Hunter, an analyst at Capital Economics, wrote in a research note. Americans haven't felt this good about current economic conditions since January 2008.
U.S. new home sales rallied in December
Sales of new U.S. homes accelerated strongly in December, a sign that home-buying may improve this year after a lackluster 2014. The Commerce Department said that new home sales climbed 11.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 481,000. The gains were not enough to offset essentially flat home-buying over the course of 2014. Just 435,000 new homes were bought last year, a modest 1.2 percent improvement from 2013. The growth in December pointed to rising sales in 2015, buoyed by the combination of strong hiring in recent months and drastically lower mortgage rates. Home values are also rising at a slower pace, improving affordability.
Thieves steal gold from Wells Fargo museum
Three masked robbers smashed a stolen SUV into the entrance of Wells Fargo's corporate museum in the heart of San Francisco's financial district, then held a security guard at gunpoint and stole gold nuggets from a display case, San Francisco police said. The robbers abandoned the SUV and fled in a sedan. Preliminary estimates of the nuggets' value is about $10,000, but they have sentimental value to the bank. The police say the nuggets date to the early days of Wells Fargo, which was founded during the gold rush of the 19th century. Wells Fargo operates 10 corporate museums around the country, including one in downtown Minneapolis.