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Key factory goods index shows gain

Orders for U.S. factory goods that signal business investment plans jumped last month by the most in more than a year, suggesting that companies are confident about their business prospects.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that orders for core capital goods, which include industrial machinery, construction equipment and computers, rose 6.3 percent in January from December.

Durable goods are items expected to last at least three years. The increase in core capital goods suggests that companies are willing to expand their production capacities despite worries that automatic government spending cuts will slow the economy in coming months.

Apple CEO promises investors ‘great stuff’

Apple CEO Tim Cook sought to assure shareholders Wednesday that the company is working on some “great stuff” that may help reverse a sharp decline in its stock price.

True to Apple’s secretive nature, Cook didn’t provide any further product details during the company’s annual shareholders meeting Wednesday. There has been speculation that Apple is working on an Internet-connected watch or TV.

Wednesday’s meeting at Apple Inc.’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters was less celebratory than the events in past years. Since hitting an all-time high of $705.07 five months ago, Apple’s stock has plunged by more than a third.

Canadian expansion saps Target’s income

Its investment in a Canadian launch this year and weaker-than-expected holiday sales caused Target Corp.’s net income to fall 2 percent in the fourth quarter.

But Target said its foray into Canada, policy of matching competitors’ prices and new designer lines will help its business this year. The retailer plans to open 124 Canadian stores this year.

For the three months ended Feb. 2, Target earned $961 million, or $1.47 a share. That’s down from $981 million a year earlier. Revenue climbed 7 percent to $22.73 billion.

For the full year, the Minneapolis company earned $3 billion, or $4.52 a share. A year earlier, it earned $2.93 billion. Annual revenue increased 5 percent to $71.96 billion.

Hostess close to selling Wonder bread brand

Wonder bread could start appearing in school lunchboxes again soon.

A person familiar with the situation says a bid by Flowers Foods to buy Wonder and several other bread brands from bankrupt Hostess was met with no competing offers. Hostess hasn’t been making any of its cakes and breads since late November.

The $360 million bid by Flowers also includes Nature’s Pride, Butternut, Home Pride and Merita breads. Any sales would be subject to approval by a bankruptcy court March 19.

Deadlines approaching for federal drought aid

The U.S. Small Business Administration is reminding small businesses, agricultural cooperatives and private, non-profit organizations in Indiana that deadlines are approaching to file for federal disaster loans to help cover losses from last year’s drought.

The loans are available to entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of the drought. Deadlines for applying vary by county and stretch from March 12 to April 29. Loans up to $2 million are available, with interest rates from 3 percent to 4 percent and terms of up to 30 years.

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