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Fed to Keep Interest Rates Low for Now, Wall Street Posts Losses Again


tarabird/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A second straight day of losses on Wall Street, despite word from the Federal Reserve that it would not increase interest rates for the time being.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 17191.76, down 195.45 from its open.

The Nasdaq dropped 43.51 to a finish of 4637.99, while the S&P 500 dipped 27.33 to 2002.22.

The Fed wrote in a statement that "labor market conditions have improved further, with strong job gains and a lower unemployment rate." While acknowledging that the recovery in the housing sector is still slow and some economic markers could be stronger, the Fed continues to believe it can be "patient" in waiting to increase interest rates.

Also on Wednesday, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche recalled more than 27,000 vehicles in the U.S. over a fuel leak issue. The recall includes a number of makes from the model years 2011 to 2013.

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Facebook Unveils New Super Bowl Hub for Fans


Facebook(NEW YORK) -- The Super Bowl and social media have become a favorite annual pairing, joining the ranks of chips and salsa, and chicken wings and beer.

Facebook on Wednesday unveiled a new real-time hub for fans to use while watching the big game.

Whether it's Marshawn Lynch's potential antics, a halftime surprise from Katy Perry or a simple touchdown celebration, it's now even easier to see what your friends and others are saying.

Facebook's Super Bowl experience also gives users the best commentary from celebrities, a play-by-play of the game and videos of some of the most highly anticipated commercials.

It's likely Super Bowl XLIX, which pits the Seattle Seahawks against the New England Patriots, could be one of the most buzzed about events on Facebook this year.

Last year, the social network said more than 50 million people had an astounding 185 million interactions about the Super Bowl on game day.

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Snapchat Eliminates 'Best Friends' Feature


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The feature that allows you to be in someone's "best friends" Snapchat list has been eliminated in the latest update of the app.

For people unfamiliar with the ephemeral messaging service, the public feature allows users to see who the three friends a person sends snaps to most frequently.

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel said the best friends feature was eliminated because "a few higher-profile friends wanted to keep their usernames private," however he promised it would eventually be back in a new form.

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'Bulletproof' Battery Could Prevent Fires, Researchers Say


File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) — The same bulletproof material that has saved countless lives may now have another practical use in everything from smartphones to airplanes.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have used Kevlar as a barrier to create slimmer lithium-ion batteries. The result is a battery that lasts longer, is more flexible and is explosion-proof, according to Nicholos Kotov.

The University of Michigan professor, who is co-inventor of the technology, told ABC News that Kevlar was chosen as an insulator for its "high strength" and "heat resistance."

Standard lithium-ion batteries work by sending charges between electrodes via a circuit path. When battery membrane holes become a certain size, lithium atoms can accumulate and create structures called dendrites, which poke through the membrane.

Dendrites become a problem if they reach the other electrode, which will short out the circuit. This is how some battery fires are believed to have started.

"It turns out that this strength [of Kevlar] is very important for the prevention of the growth of dendrites in the batteries," Kotov said.

The University of Michigan team founded a company, called Elegus Technologies, with the hope of bringing the research to market.

Kotov said 30 companies have so far requested samples of the material and that they hope to begin production toward the end of 2016.

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Super Bowl: Watch Budweiser's Puppy-Horse Ad


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Budweiser is bringing back its winning combination for its Super Bowl 49 ad this year. Its one-minute spot "Lost Dog" features an adorable puppy and its cross-species friendship theme once again.

The role of the Budweiser Clydesdale trainer is reprised for a third time by actor Don Jeanes.

Like its popular "Puppy Love" ad last year, this one, shot at a ranch outside Santa Barbara, California, in early December, features another puppy that escapes from its owner.

Will the ad motivate viewers to drink beer? Probably not, but Budweiser is at least hoping you'll use the hashtag #BestBuds and feel warm and cuddly about it.

Paired with the song “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” performed by Sleeping At Last, the puppy-horse combination may elicit a tear or two.

Though the ad looks like it uses one irresistible puppy, it actually used eight: seven females and one male, who were all 11 to 12.5 weeks old at filming.

And seven Budweiser Clydesdales underwent training for three months to fine-tune their skills for the ad, Budweiser said.

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Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche Recall 27K Vehicles over Fuel Leaks


Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche are recalling more than 27,000 vehicles in the U.S. over a fuel leak issue.

In documents submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the three automakers -- all owned by Volkswagen Group -- say the fuel injection system in affected vehicles may leak, increasing the risk of a fire. So far, no injuries or fires have been reported.

The recall includes Audi Q7, S4 and S5 vehicles from model years 2011 to 2013; Audi A7 vehicles from 2012 to 2013; Audi A6 vehicles and Volkswagen Touareg Hybrids from 2012; and Porsche Cayenne S Hybrids and Panamera S Hybrids from 2011 to 2012.

The automakers say they will notify affected owners, who will be able to replace the fuel rails and seals at a local dealer free of charge.

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Physician Assistant Tops 2015 List of Best Jobs


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A young person still trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives might be wise to consult the employment website Glassdoor's "25 Best Jobs in America for 2015."

Topping the list is physician assistant with an average base salary of more than $111,000 and close to 45,500 openings for the position this year. Software engineer is second, paying a salary over $98,000 on average with almost 105,000 openings.

Glassdoor ranked each profession on earning potential based on average annual base salary, career opportunities rating and number of job openings.

Naturally, things can change year-to-year but at least for 2015, these are the 25 most attractive jobs for those venturing out on a career path or looking to change their vocation:

1. Physician Assistant – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.8

Number of Job Openings: 45,484
Average Base Salary: $111,376
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.5

2. Software Engineer - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.6

Number of Job Openings: 104,828
Average Base Salary: $98,074
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.3

3. Business Development Manager - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.6

Number of Job Openings: 11,616
Average Base Salary: $94,907
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.5

4. Human Resources Manager - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.6

 Number of Job Openings: 8,073
Average Base Salary: $96,443
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.6

5. Finance Manager- Glassdoor Job Score: 4.6

Number of Job Openings: 9,728
Average Base Salary: $122,865
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.4

6. Marketing Manager- Glassdoor Job Score: 4.6

Number of Job Openings: 14,647
Average Base Salary: $100,130
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.4

7. Database Administrator- Glassdoor Job Score: 4.5

Number of Job Openings: 9,790
Average Base Salary: $97,835
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.4

8. Product Manager - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.5

Number of Job Openings: 10,294
Average Base Salary: $113,363
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.3

9. Data Scientist - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.4

Number of Job Openings: 3,449
Average Base Salary: $104,476
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.8

10. Sales Manager - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.4

Number of Job Openings: 26,193
Average Base Salary: $76,556
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.3

11. Solutions Architect - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.4

Number of Job Openings: 3,982
Average Base Salary: $121,657
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.4

12.  Mechanical Engineer- Glassdoor Job Score: 4.4

Number of Job Openings: 16,065
Average Base Salary: $73,015
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.3

13. QA Engineer - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.3

Number of Job Openings: 26,383
Average Base Salary: $77,499
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.2

14. Business Analyst - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.3

Number of Job Openings: 21,337
Average Base Salary: $74,638
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.2

15. Electrical Engineer - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.3

Number of Job Openings: 10,435
Average Base Salary: $76,803
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.3

16. Network Engineer - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.3

Number of Job Openings: 14,092
Average Base Salary: $87,518
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.2

17. Civil Engineer - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.3

Number of Job Openings: 6,120
Average Base Salary: $73,383
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.5

18. Audit Manager - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.3

Number of Job Openings: 4,585
Average Base Salary: $69,271
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.9

19. Physical Therapist - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.3

Number of Job Openings: 27,579
Average Base Salary: $64,806
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.2

20. IT Project Manager - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.3

Number of Job Openings: 5,700
Average Base Salary: $103,710
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.2

21. Client Services Manager - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.2

Number of Job Openings: 2,377
Average Base Salary: $103,736
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.7

22. Supply Chain Manager - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.2
Number of Job Openings: 3,754
Average Base Salary: $83,795
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.4

23. Mobile Developer - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.2

Number of Job Openings: 4,651
Average Base Salary: $79,810
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.3

24. Nurse Practitioner - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.2

Number of Job Openings: 15,341
Average Base Salary: $95,171
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.1

25. Sales Engineer - Glassdoor Job Score: 4.2

Number of Job Openings: 6,007
Average Base Salary: $91,318
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.2

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Demand for Apple Products at 'All-Time High,' CEO Tim Cook Says


Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Apple Inc. announced Tuesday that it beat Wall St. expectations by a huge margin, selling a record 74.5 million iPhones in the three months ending December 27. Apple stock rallied more than 5 percent in the aftermarket, after news of the company's "highest-ever" revenue and earnings.

“We’d like to thank our customers for an incredible quarter, which saw demand for Apple products soar to an all-time high,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “Our revenue grew 30 percent over last year to $74.6 billion, and the execution by our teams to achieve these results was simply phenomenal.”

At the close of trading in New York Tuesday, Apple stock had fallen 3.5 percent to $109.14 a share.

The company, based in Cupertino, California, reported net profit of $18 billion in its first quarter, compared with $13.1 billion in the same period last year. It reported revenue of $74.6 billion compared with $57.6 billion in the same period a year ago. International sales accounted for 65 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

In the last quarter, Apple sold:

- 74,468,000 iPhones

- 21,419,000 iPads

- 5,519,000 Macs

Now Apple’s iPhone business is bigger than Google and Microsoft’s phone businesses combined.

Earlier this month, Apple announced that the first week of January set a new record for billings from its App Store with customers spending nearly half a billion dollars on apps and in-app purchases.

New Year’s Day 2015 was the single biggest day in App Store sales history, the company said. App Store developers have earned $25 billion from the sale of apps and games, the company said on Jan. 8.


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DIY Save or Splurge: "Million Dollar Contractor" Shares Tips for Home Improvements


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — DIY home improvement can get messy and costly. Enter Stephen Fanuka, who appeared on ABC's Good Morning America Wednesday to share his tips for how you can get a million-dollar look on your DIY home improvements without breaking the bank.

Fanuka, who stars in the DIY Network’s Million Dollar Contractor, told viewers where they could save money and when they should splurge on improvements to the kitchen, home lighting, and the bathroom versus the basement.

Here are his tips:


The Kitchen

It’s the most expensive room in the house to renovate. Fanuka said people can cut costs by painting existing cabinets and changing the hardware rather than replacing cabinets entirely, however he said people should consider spending more on stainless steel appliances and a tile backsplash.

Lighting

Lighting has a huge impact on the home. Fanuka suggested changing bulbs and adding a dimmer switch to change the look of any room. Adding new light fixtures in public areas of the home, such as the entry way, kitchen and hallway, can add drama in an instant, he said.

Bathroom vs. Basement
Which should you save money on? Fanuka said there are small changes people can make in their bathrooms to update the room inexpensively. He also said it was important to refinish areas such as the basement or garage.

Rather than changing tile -- which can be costly -- Fanuka suggested changing bathroom fixtures such as the toilet, sink, towel bars and shower trim. He also suggested painting the bathroom ceiling a highlight color, adding a new vanity cabinet and maybe adding crown molding. All of these changes can have a major impact on the room’s appearance, he said.

People should finish their basements in order to add square footage to their homes, Fanuka said, adding that homeowners should install flooring that’s durable and low-maintenance.

Extra Tips from Stephen Fanuka:

  • Glam up your kitchen by adding glass inserts to plain old cabinet doors.
  • Don’t forget the fifth wall -- paint the ceiling of a room a fun color or in a high gloss accent color.
  • Spruce up a plain door. Get an expensive panel door look without breaking the bank by adding a square of thin molding and paint.
  • Ditch the shower curtain! Install partial glass doors on your shower.
  • And for a touch of luxury, stay in bed by installing a remote controlled motorized curtain bar.

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GoDaddy Yanks Super Bowl Ad After Animal Rights Complaints


Credit: Tom Pennington / Contributor/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- That was fast. Internet giant GoDaddy released its Super Bowl ad online Tuesday, then said it won't be using it, after howls of discontent from dog advocates over the spot, which featured NASCAR's Danica Patrick and a golden retriever.

In the 30-second ad, a golden retriever puppy falls out of a truck but finds its way home. Unfortunately for the pooch, its owner went on GoDaddy.com to make a website to sell the dog.

Animal lovers didn't get the joke, though. They pointed out that dogs sold often come from puppy mills, and set up the hashtag #GoDaddyPuppy to rally critics.

GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving went on Twitter to say "we will not air" the ad.

 

Loud and clear, we heard you. @Blakei on changing course with this year’s Super Bowl Ad: https://t.co/gzduFypdEi

— GoDaddy (@GoDaddy) January 27, 2015



But don't worry about the dog.

While shooting the Super Bowl commercial with Patrick, GoDaddy employees fell in love with the pup, later named Buddy by GoDaddy followers on social media, and the company adopted it.

"As our Chief Companion Officer, Buddy will be interacting with customers, mostly small business owners who are looking for relaxation and a reprieve from their hectic workday," GoDaddy Chief Marketing Officer Barb Rechterman said in a news release. "We're already booking time with customers ... and our own employees are lining up to meet the little guy. All you have to do is look at him and 'bam,' your stress level goes down and your mood goes up."

 

 

That's a wrap with sweet little Buddy for the @godaddy Super Bowl spot! He's a keeper! pic.twitter.com/GqOQl1i3SH

— Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick) December 13, 2014

 

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Millennials Jumping Off the Traditional Banking Bandwagon


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Millennials are marching to the beat of a different drummer when it comes to their personal banking.

In a survey conducted for software company FICO of 900 adults, many people ages 18-34 are eschewing traditional banking services long used by older generations.

For instance, 32 percent of millennials said they'd probably use mobile wallet services such as Apple Pay or Google Wallet during the next year. That's compared to 16 percent of Americans 35 and older.

When the field of millennials is narrowed down to those between the ages of 18 and 24, 56 percent acknowledged that they were already using or plan to use Venmo and PayPal to make payments.

Among the entire group of respondents, five percent say they now use a mobile wallet with 18 percent plan on doing so over the next 12 months.

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Valentine's Day Expected to Generate $18.9 Billion in Sales


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Once the Super Bowl comes and goes, what is there to look forward to in February? Oh yeah, Valentine's Day, which is great in theory as long as you've got someone to celebrate it with.

Millions seem pretty gung-ho about V-Day, according to the National Retail Federation's Valentine's Day spending survey, which finds that total spending in 2015 should reach a record high of $18.9 billion.

The average amount spent per American for Valentine's Day 2015 will be $142.31, eight bucks more than a year ago.

As usual, sweets for the sweet is the most popular gift with 53 percent saying they'll give candy as opposed to 38 percent who'll buy flowers and 35 percent planning a special night out.

About 21 percent of Valentine's Day shoppers will give jewelry, totaling $4.8 billion in sales, the most the NRF has recorded in five years of running the survey.

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Google Fiber: Here's What the Hype Is All About


Google(NEW YORK) -- When Google announced Tuesday plans to bring its high-speed Internet service to a handful of cities in the southeastern United States, residents of the areas went into full-on celebration mode.

Google's gigabit Internet service is coming to the Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville and Raleigh-Durham metro areas, covering a total of 18 cities.

 

Google Fiber is coming to the Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, and Raleigh-Durham metro areas: http://t.co/l0spJrIiSk pic.twitter.com/NFgOSwC7OJ

— Google Fiber (@googlefiber) January 27, 2015



While Google did not immediately say when the service would be ready for customers in the newly announced areas, it didn't stop people from salivating over the idea of Internet service that Google claims is up to 100 times faster than basic broadband.

Movies can be downloaded in as fast as two minutes, while Google said the high-speed service could help make advances in science and business.

With competitive prices, Google Fiber has also been able to entice some users to switch. The company charges $70 per month for Internet service and $120 for a television and Internet bundle in the Kansas City market.

"New research from the Fiber to the Home Council shows gigabit networks are contributing billions of dollars in economic growth," Dennis Kish, vice president of Google Fiber, said in a blog post Tuesday, referring to the nonprofit group dedicated to bringing fiber-optic Internet to more customers.

"Communities across America are demanding more speed for their own homes and businesses, and we're going to keep doing our part to help," Kish added.

Google said it expects to have updates later this year on the possibility of bringing Fiber to more cities. Those in the running include Phoenix; Salt Lake City; San Jose, California; Portland, Oregon; and San Antonio.

 

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Mixed Economic Reports Lead to Down Day on Wall Street


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street posted losses on Tuesday, one day after a massive winter storm struck the Northeast, shutting down transportation and knocking out power to thousands, and amidst mixed economic reports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 291.49, finishing the session at 17,387.21.

The Nasdaq dropped 90.26 to a close of 4,681.50, while the S&P 500 dipped to 2,029.55, 27.54 off its open.

Durable goods orders decreased by $8.1 billion in December, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce -- down 3.4 percent from the previous month, the fourth month out of five that durable goods orders have dropped.

On the flip side, new home sales were up 11.6 percent in December, a sign that home buying may improve in 2015.

Also on Tuesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released state unemployment data for December, showing that the unemployment rate in 46 states decreased from December 2013, while just two states saw higher unemployment rates than the year before.

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SpaceX Shares Animation of Rocket That Could Send Humans to Mars


Spacex(NEW YORK) -- Elon Musk's private space company showed off a sexy new animation Tuesday demonstrating how its Falcon Heavy rocket could one day send humans on long-haul missions to Mars.

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket is so powerful it can blast off carrying a load as heavy as a commercial jetliner packed with hundreds of passengers, luggage and fuel.

A new animation from SpaceX shows how the Falcon Heavy, called the "most powerful rocket in the world," would operate from liftoff to booster recovery.

The first stage of the rocket has three Falcon 9 engine cores, providing an incredible 27 engines' worth of power at liftoff.

Musk has long been a proponent of recycling rocket parts -- something he said he believes will make space travel cheaper and usher in a new era for exploration.

During a launch of its Dragon vessel to the International Space Station earlier this month, SpaceX attempted a historic maneuver by trying to land part of a rocket on a floating barge.

The rockets came close to the barge but ultimately crashed at a 45-degree angle, smashing its legs and engine section, and rendering it unable to be reused, Musk said after the attempt.

Last week, Google and Fidelity announced a $1 billion investment in SpaceX, which will help the company push ahead with its plan to create a space-based global Internet service.

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