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Earnings off slightly at Zimmer

Zimmer Holdings Inc. on Thursday reported 2012 annual earnings of $755 million, or $4.29 per diluted common share, a 1 percent dip from the $761 million, or $4.03 a share, for 2011. Net sales were flat at $4.47 billion for last year.

The Warsaw-based orthopedic devices maker also reported fourth-quarter earnings of $153 million, or 88 cents per diluted common share, a 2 percent dip from the $157 million, or 87 cents a share, posted for the same three months of the prior year. Net sales crept up by 1 percent to $1.18 billion.

During 2012, Zimmer used $485 million cash to repurchase 7.7 million shares of company stock. It also paid $94 million in cash dividends.

Tickets offered today for Vera Bradley sale

Admission tickets for the Vera Bradley Outlet Sale are available today.

The popular event draws tens of thousands of shoppers to Memorial Coliseum. This year’s dates are April 9 to 14.

Admission each of the first three days is $5. Timed tickets are available through Ticketmaster and at the Coliseum box office. The company will sell 4,000 tickets for each 2 1/2 -hour session.

Admission is free on Friday and Saturday, but shoppers must complete a registration either online or at the sale. Pre-registration begins today at www. Slightly irregular and overstocked items, such as purses and overnight bags, are marked down as much as 65 percent.

ITT Exelis awarded $12.7 million contract

ITT Exelis has been awarded a $12.7 million contract for weather satellite support. The Space and Missile Systems Center and Defense Weather Systems Directorate at the Los Angeles Air Force Base issued the contract.

Work is expected to be completed in Fort Wayne by Jan. 31, 2014.

ITT Exelis employs about 1,015 locally in its tactical communications operation and about 440 in its Fort Wayne space-related operation, which designs and builds sounders and imagers that have gone on every weather satellite used by the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration.

Consumer spending up 0.2% in December

U.S. consumers increased their spending in December at a slower pace, while their income grew by the largest amount in eight years. Income surged because companies rushed to pay dividends before income taxes increased on high-earners.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that consumer spending rose 0.2 percent in December. That’s slightly slower than the 0.4 percent increase in November.

Income jumped 2.6 percent in December from November, the biggest gain since December 2004. The main driver of the increase was dividend payments.

Wages and salaries grew 0.6 percent.

Jobless aid claims surge to 368,000

The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid rose sharply last week but remained at a level consistent with moderate hiring.

Weekly applications for unemployment benefits rose 38,000 to a seasonally adjusted 368,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The increase comes after applications plummeted in the previous two weeks to five-year lows.

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