Losing some luster
Global gold sales slipped in 2012 for the first time in three years, the World Gold Council industry group said.
Sales dropped 4 percent.
However, the value of gold sold last year rose to an all-time high of $236.4 billion because its price rose 6 percent to an average of $1,669 an ounce.
Merck suits settled
Merck & Co. has agreed to pay $688 million to settle two lawsuits brought by investors who alleged the drugmaker delayed releasing bad news on its blockbuster cholesterol drugs to prevent a drop in sales.
Merck settled without admitting wrongdoing.
Merck and then-partner Schering-Plough, which it later acquired, had repeatedly delayed disclosing results of a study called Enhance on the effectiveness of its pills Vytorin and Zetia.
When Merck in early 2008 finally released study results showing the pricey drugs didn’t work better than an inexpensive generic pill, Merck stock tumbled, causing big losses for investors.
Chrysler is recalling 278,000 pickup trucks and SUVs to fix a problem that can cause the rear axles to lock up unexpectedly.
The recall covers many Ram 1500 pickups from the 2009 through 2012 model years, as well as Dodge Dakota pickups from 2009 through 2011. Also included are Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango SUVs from 2009.
Chrysler will install a retainer to keep the nut in place starting next month.
Mortgage rates steady
U.S. mortgage rates held steady amid rising demand for housing that’s pushing up prices.
The average 30-year rate was 3.53 percent in the week ending Thursday, unchanged from the previous week, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said.
The average 15-year rate held at 2.77 percent.
Consumer confidence in the U.S. climbed last week to its highest in a month as improving labor and real estate markets eased the burden of a higher payroll tax.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to minus 35.9 in the period ending Feb. 10 from minus 36.3 the previous week.
Bandai America and Sync Beatz Entertainment are hoping to revive the Tamagotchi electronic pet craze of the 1990s with a new mobile app that launched Thursday for Android devices.
The app duplicates the egg-shaped plastic toy that became a must-own sensation after it was first released in 1996 in Japan.
The Tamagotchi app is free, and an edition without ads costs 99 cents. A version for Apple devices will be available later this year.
| Star news services