Tobacco companies halt rolling out new products
RICHMOND, Va. Talk about a smoke break. Tobacco companies have introduced almost no new cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products in the U.S. in more than 18 months because the federal government has prevented them from doing so, an Associated Press review has found. It’s an unprecedented pause for an industry that historically has introduced dozens of new products annually, and reflects its increasingly uneasy relationship with the Food and Drug Administration, which in 2009 began regulating tobacco. Officials at the FDA say applications for new products have languished because of “significant deficiencies” and because the agency is taking extra care in reviewing products that pose public health risks. Industry executives say cigarettes haven’t changed in any meaningful way and the delays don’t make sense. They say the changes are as simple as a brand name change, cigarette filters or different packaging.
Google Maps returns to Apple items
SAN FRANCISCO Google Maps has found its way back to the iPhone. The world’s most popular online mapping system returned late Wednesday with the release of the Google Maps iPhone app. The release comes nearly three months after Apple Inc. replaced Google Maps as the device’s built-in navigation system and inserted its own map software into the latest version of its mobile operating system. Apple’s maps application proved to be far inferior to Google’s. The product’s shoddiness prompted Apple CEO Tim Cook to issue an apology and recommend iPhone owners use Google maps through a mobile Web browser or other alternatives until the problem was fixed.
GM will update big pickup trucks’ look
DETROIT General Motors is giving its big pickups a much-needed makeover. The company is unveiling new versions of its top-selling Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra on Thursday. The 2014 models will go on sale by early spring or late summer. The models roll into a market where truck sales are growing after a five-year slump. And GM’s current trucks are looking dated, hurting sales. The current trucks, last revamped in 2007, are the oldest on the market and have fallen behind newer models from Ford and Chrysler. The revamped Silverados and Sierras are aimed at putting GM back in front. They look similar to the old models, but are a little more aerodynamic-looking. The company also says the trucks will have stronger, quieter cabs, and updated steering, suspensions and brakes.
Mortgage rates fall to near record lows
WASHINGTON Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week near record lows, providing more incentive for Americans to buy homes and refinance. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year loan dipped to 3.32 percent. That’s below last week’s rate of 3.34 percent. The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage declined to 2.66 percent from 2.67 percent last week.
The Associated Press contributed.