Dollars & Sense

Manufacturing rise in economy crunch

Orders to factories for big-ticket manufactured goods jumped unexpectedly in December, good news amid signs that the U.S. economy may be tipping toward a recession. Still, analysts said the 5.2 percent growth in orders -- while potentially boosting industrial output in coming months -- likely came from overseas demand and that domestic growth faced continuing threats from tight credit and mortgage markets that have forced consumers to retrench. The Conference Board report Tuesday that consumer confidence fell sharply in January on worries over deteriorating business conditions and a weakening job market was another sign of consumer angst.

Oversight extended

Federal oversight of Microsoft Corp.'s market power, which began in 2002 after a landmark antitrust settlement, has been extended by 18 months. The court's ruling "should not be viewed as a sanction against Microsoft," U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said late Tuesday. She said her decision was based on delays by Microsoft in filing technical documents related to the licensing of its software. Ten states, led by New York and California, urged the court last year to extend its oversight until 2012. The Bush administration did not join the states' request. The Justice Department said Microsoft had complied with the settlement and it should be allowed to expire.

More Yahoo job cuts

Yahoo Inc.'s financial funk deepened at the end of 2007, prompting the slumping Internet icon to draw up plans to lay off 1,000 workers. The Sunnyvale-based company disclosed the upcoming 7 percent reduction in its 14,300-employee work force during a Tuesday conference call to review a 23 percent decline in its fourth-quarter profit. Yahoo didn't specify which areas of its operations will be trimmed. Yahoo jettisoned 650 workers in the wake of the dot-com bust seven years ago. Management indicated further details will be released by mid-February.

Coming Thursday

Young people, sometimes grudgingly, adjust to sharing technological turf with adults.