New jobless claims drop, as economy shows some gains

The New York Times: The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell sharply last week, and a gauge of factory activity hit an eight-month high in early November, hinting at some strength in the economy. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, the Labor Department said. Economists had forecast a drop in the newly jobless to just 335,000, and some said that the Veterans Day holiday last week could have contributed to some of the decline.

U.S. plans to exit General Motors stake by year-end, but may lose $10 billion

Reuters: The U.S. government said on Thursday it expected to sell its remaining shares of General Motors Co. by the end of the year, a plan that may leave taxpayers saddled with a total shortfall of about $10 billion on the automaker's 2009 bailout. The Treasury Department's intention to sell the last remnant of its GM stake highlights a remarkable recovery staged by the U.S. auto industry since the nearly $50 billion taxpayer-funded rescue of the largest of the Detroit 3 automakers. U.S. auto sales through October have risen 8.4 percent, with sales expected to top 15.5 million for the full year, well above the recessionary trough of 10.4 million in 2009.

FCC to weigh allowing cellphone use on flights

The Federal Communications Commission said on Thursday that it would consider changing its rules to permit the use of cellphones and other wireless data devices during airline flights, The New York Times reported. The change is still months away, if approved, and would allow the use of cellphones once a plane climbed above 10,000 feet. However, the airlines would not be required to provide the service. Tom Wheeler, the FCC chairman, said if the new rules are adopted, the commission thinks both Wi-Fi and wireless cellphone data plans could be used. Phone calls could also be made. But many have voiced their opposition to it, including flight attendants, who said it would be both a nuisance and a safety hazard. Some fliers also aren't happy. "I don't want to have to sit next to someone who is talking on their phone the entire flight," said Greg Pritikin, a screenwriter who lives in Los Angeles. "That would be a nightmare."