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Thursday Afternoon Business Brief

October 25, 2012, 1:12 PM

Thursday Afternoon Business Brief

Stocks are little changed at midday. Investors have generally sent stock prices lower lately, amid weaker than expected earnings reports. Apple and report earnings after the market closes.

  • Facing what could be one of the key product launches in company history, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer today celebrated the imminent release of the company's Windows operating system. Windows 8 is the most dramatic overhaul of the personal computer market's dominant operating system in 17 years, coming at a time when people are migrating to smaller devices like smartphones and tablets.
  • A gauge of future home sales was essentially flat last month. The National Association of Realtors index of pending home sales was up 0.3 percent, just below a two-year high in July.
  • An average of U.S. mortgage rates rose slightly this week, continuing near record lows. Freddie Mac says the average for 30-year fixed mortgages edged up to 3.41 percent, from 3.37 last week. Three weeks ago, the rate touched 3.36 percent, the lowest on records dating to 1971.
  • German authorities have ordered a recall of some batches of Novartis flu vaccine as a precautionary measure. This comes after the company reported the appearance of small particles in the manufacturing process.

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