Today in business: 5 things you need to

January 23 [Wed], 2013, 12:32

Japan takes on deflation, U.S. home sales fall, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion

1. JAPAN MOVES TO COUNTER DEFLATIONAfter more than a decade of stagnant growth and deflationary prices, the Bank of Japan on Tuesday took bold steps to lift the economy out of its malaise, pledging to double its inflation rate target to 2 percent and to continue indefinitely an emergency program to pump money into financial markets. The move, championed by newly elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, represents a significant turnaround in Japan's economic policy, which in recent years has focused on implementing austerity programs to reduce the country's debt load. However, while Abe described the central bank's new policy as "groundbreaking," some analysts said the government has not gone far enough. []

2. U.S. SALES OF EXISTING HOMES DIPThe National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales in the U.S. unexpectedly dipped in December 2012, largely due to low supply. The report serves to end the year on a sour note, as the recovery in the housing market had finally seemed to build some momentum. Indeed, analysts for the most part remain optimistic that the housing market will continue to improve in 2013. []

3.VERIZON REPORTS FOURTH-QUARTER LOSSVerizon reported a $4.23 billion loss for the fourth quarter, largely due to damage to telecommunications networks caused by Hurricane Sandy, as well as rising pension costs. However, Verizon continued to lead its competitors in growth, racking up 2.2 million new subscribers and selling 9.8 million smartphones in the quarter. Analysts attributed Verizon's success to the 2012 debut of its cutting-edgeLTE network and new shared data plans. []

4. BUSINESS LEADERS DESCEND ON DAVOSThe world's most powerful chief executives and financial officials have descended on Davos, Switzerland, to attend the annual World Economic Forum, which begins on Tuesday. The luminaries of the business world are expected to discuss a range of economic and geopolitical issues, unlike last year, when the conversation was focused almost exclusively on Europe's metastasizing debt crisis. []

5. MICROSOFT MULLS INVESTING IN DELLAccording to reports, Microsoft is considering investing $3 billion to help struggling computer maker Dell go private. Analysts say it's in Microsoft's interest to see Dell succeed, given the fact that the success of Microsoft's new Windows 8 software relies on the health of PC makers like Dell. []

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