Consumer prices post largest gain in six months

Reuters: U.S. consumer prices recorded their largest increase in six months in December as gasoline prices rebounded, but there was little to suggest a broader pickup in prices with underlying inflation muted. The Labor Department said on Thursday its Consumer Price Index increased 0.3 percent after being flat in November. In the 12 months to December, consumer prices accelerated 1.5 percent after advancing 1.2 percent in November. The increases were in line with economists' expectations.

UnitedHealth says quarterly profit rose, sees 2014 growth

Reuters: UnitedHealth Group Inc, the largest U.S. health insurer, on Thursday reported a higher fourth-quarter profit and the addition of 170,000 members, and said 2014 earnings would improve as well. Net income rose to $1.4 billion, or $1.41 per share, from $1.2 billion, or $1.20 per share, a year earlier. The fourth quarter marked the beginning of sales of new individual plans created under the national health care reform law, which went into effect for the first customers on Jan. 1. UnitedHealth has limited its participation in selling those new plans so far to three states but said in the release that "strength in sales to individuals and smaller employer groups" had contributed to adding new customers in the quarter.

 Union vote falls short at Amazon fulfillment center

Bloomberg: A majority of a group of 27 technicians at an Amazon.com Inc. fulfillment center in Middletown, Del., voted to reject an initiative to form a union under the auspices of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, a union spokesman said. The vote was 21 to 6. The vote, the first of its kind at an Amazon fulfillment center, occurred after electricians, machinists and other engineers said they were unhappy about limited opportunities for promotion and a constantly rotating chain of managers. Amazon hired a law firm to fight the organizing effort. Amazon has successfully fought unionization efforts in the U.S. for years. In 2000, workers at a customer-service call center in Seattle lobbied to form a union and met with stiff resistance from the company. Amazon ultimately closed the facility.