Stocks hold onto gains
NEW YORK, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Wall Street stocks made modest gains Thursday after central banks in Europe left their key lending rates intact.
The Bank of England kept its lending rate at 0.5 percent. The European Central Bank kept its rate at 0.75 percent.
Both decisions were expected, but the ECB's decision came with a more pessimistic forecast for the economy of the eurozone, which the ECB expects will contract 0.3 percent in 2013.
The Labor Department said Thursday 23,000 fewer first-time unemployment claims were filed in the week ending Saturday, bringing the weekly total to 370,000, close to the 369,000 mark of the week before Hurricane Sandy pounded the East Coast.
By close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average added 39.55 points, or 0.3 percent, to 13,074.04.
The index was led by technology giant Intel, shares up 1.56 percent; Cisco Systems, shares up 1.41 percent; and McDonald's, shares up 1.29 percent.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq index gained 15.57 points, or 0.52 percent, to 2,989.27. The Standard and Poor's 500 added 4.66 points, or 0.33 percent, to 1,413.94.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,605 stocks advanced and 1,420 declined on a volume of 3.1 billion shares traded.
The 10-year treasury note was yielding 1.591 percent.
The euro fell to $1.2966 from Wednesday's $1.3066. The dollar fell to 82.40 yen from 82.47 yen.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index added 0.81 percent, 76.32 points, to 9,545.16.
Britain's FTSE 100 index gained 0.16 percent, 9.34 points, to 5,901.42.
Apple to return Mac production stateside
CUPERTINO, Calif., Dec. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. technology giant Apple has plans to manufacture computers in the United States, the firm's chief executive officer, Tim Cook, has said.
In recent interviews, Cook said Apple would invest $100 million in U.S. production in 2013.
Currently, customized Apple computers are outfitted with special features, such as an over-sized hard drive and larger memory, in the United States.
Otherwise, almost all of Apple's production has been done overseas for years, The New York Times reported Thursday.
"Next year, we will do one of our existing Mac lines in the United States," Cook said in an interview with Brian Williams on NBC.
Cook said the plan "doesn't mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we'll be working with people, and we'll be investing our money."
The implication, however, is that computer production moved to the United States would be more than the custom-ordered finishing touches currently done domestically.
Apple has recently joined the Fair Labor Association, which monitors outsourced work and found numerous problems at Foxconn, the Chinese firm that makes the iPhone and many other U.S. brand electronics.
In 2010, a spate of worker suicides at Foxconn -- 18 attempts and 14 deaths -- brought global focus on conditions at Foxconn, which is China's largest employer with 1.2 million employees.
A request from Apple prompted the Fair Labor Association investigation, the Times said.
Jobless claims drop by 25,000
WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. Labor Department Wednesday said first-time jobless benefits claims dropped back close to where they were before Hurricane Sandy.
First-time claims dropped by 25,000 in the week, bringing initial claims in the week to 370,000. Before Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast in late October, claims had hit a multiyear low of 369,000.
On Wednesday, Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi said the hurricane, which hit the East Coast in late October was responsible for wiping out an estimated 86,000 jobs. "The manufacturing, retailing, leisure and hospitality and temporary help industries were hit particularly hard by the storm," Zandi said in a statement.
The four-week rolling average for the week was 408,000, an increase of 2,500 from the previous week.
The unadjusted advance number of first-time unemployment benefits claims under state programs totaled 498,619 for the week, an increase of 139,678 from the previous week, the Labor Department said.
There were 528,793 initial benefits claims in the comparable week in 2011, the department's Employment and Training Administration said.
Winter tourism hit by climate change
DURHAM, N.H., Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Warmer winters have cost the tourism industry $1 billion and are expected to create escalating losses, a University of New Hampshire study says.
More than 200,000 jobs in 38 states depend on consistent winter conditions, the study conducted by researchers Elizabeth Burakowski and Matthew Magnusson says.
Altogether, the $12.2 billion winter tourism industry is suffering from fewer winter weather days and spottier snow cover on ski slopes.
"Without intervention, winter temperatures are projected to warm an additional 4 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, with subsequent decreases in snow cover area, snowfall and shorter snow season," the report says.
"Snow depths could decline in the west by 25 percent to 100 percent. The length of the snow season in the northeast will be cut in half," says the report, titled "Climate impacts on the Winter Tourism Economy in the United States."
The study was conducted on behalf of Protect Our Winters and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Warmer weather "spells significant economic uncertainty for a winter sports industry deeply dependent upon predictable, heavy snowfall," Burakowski said in a statement.
"Without a stable climate, our industry, our jobs, the economies of mountain communities everywhere and the valued lifestyle of winter will be gone. It's our obligation as athletes and businesspeople, parents and citizens, to act," said POW Executive Director Chris Steinkamp.
The study found appreciable snowfall days had decreased in every state with major investment in winter recreation. From the peak snowfall years to the lowest between November 1999 and April 2010, visits by skiers dropped 7.7 percent in Colorado, 31 percent in Oregon, 36 percent in Wisconsin and 14 percent in Utah.
Among eastern states, visits dropped 9.5 percent in Vermont, 12 percent in Pennsylvania, 17 percent in New Hampshire and 10 percent in New York.