Starwatch consumer

Google offers more resources for travelers

Updated: 2014-01-09T03:36:38Z

Staff and wire reports

Rooms with a Google view

Google is expanding its hotel business, offering several new ways for travelers to learn about accommodations. The most noticeable change will be the introduction of a series of high-resolution panoramic photos that are stitched together to create a 360-degree experience, similar to what is found in the Street View feature in Google Maps. They aren’t independent photos but are another resource for travelers.

Appetite for debt

Americans increased their borrowing in November, led by continued gains in auto and student loans. The Federal Reserve said consumers increased their borrowing by $12.3 billion in November to a seasonally adjusted $3.09 trillion. That record level follows an October increase of $17.9 billion. Almost all of the November increase came from $11.9 billion more in borrowing for auto loans and student loans.

New kids menu

Applebee’s has rolled out a revamped kids menu, with 10 meals designed to meet national restaurant industry nutrition standards. The Kansas City-based chain said the 10 meals approved by the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program are the most among all national casual dining chains. The company said the new kids menu “moves away from a one size fits all to a two-tiered offering for entrees, with a selection of sides and beverages to complete the meal.” Applebee’s said its previous kids menu had just two meals that qualified under the Kids LiveWell nutritional guidelines.

Application activity

Mortgage applications in the U.S. rose last week as refinancing activity climbed the most in two months. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s index increased 2.6 percent in the period ending Jan. 3, the first advance in a month. The group also released data for the week ending Dec. 27, which showed the index decreased 4.2 percent to the lowest level since December 2000.

Cable defections

Time Warner Cable lost 215,000 video subscribers in the fourth quarter amid competition with phone carriers and the challenge of convincing younger consumers to pay for TV. The defections brought Time Warner Cable’s customer losses for the year to 825,000, up from 530,000 in 2012. Time Warner Cable is the largest cable provider in the Kansas City area. The company added 55,000 high-speed Internet subscribers and 15,000 phone users in the fourth quarter, chief financial officer Artie Minson said at an investor conference.

New diabetes pill

A diabetes pill from Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca won U.S. approval, becoming the second in a new class of medicines to treat the disease. The Food and Drug Administration said it cleared the drug, known as dapagliflozin, for treatment of type 2 diabetes.

| Staff and news services

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