Sandy aid deadline extended; other business briefs

NEW YORKSandy aid deadline extended

The deadline to apply for disaster unemployment benefits has been extended to Feb. 28, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office announced Thursday. The federal benefits became available after superstorm Sandy for workers who lost their jobs or income because they live or work in an area hit hard by the storm, such as Nassau and Suffolk counties. Self-employed individuals are also eligible. The program has broader criteria than the traditional unemployment program. It is federally funded and requires the state Department of Labor to determine first if a claimant qualifies for regular unemployment benefits before the disaster benefits are offered.

NATION

New rules for tour bus industry

Federal regulators will launch a national crackdown on unsafe tour bus operators and try to toughen oversight of the industry in the wake of recent fatal accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said Thursday teams of investigators will focus on bus companies with a history of problems in safety sweeps over the next two months. Eight people were killed in a crash in Southern California earlier this month, and nine were killed in northeastern Oregon just before New Year's. Both companies were shut down for safety violations.

Billionaires' feud gets deeper

The divide between billionaire investors Carl Icahn and William Ackman is getting deeper. A regulatory filing Thursday shows that Icahn holds a 12.98 percent stake in nutritional supplement distributor Herbalife Inc. and intends to have discussions with its management on business and strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value, including the possibility of going private. Herbalife has become part a long-running feud between the two activist investors that led to a shouting match on live television last month. Hedge fund manager Ackman said in December that he believes Herbalife is a pyramid scheme, and he took a short position in the stock. Short-sellers make money when the stock they're betting against declines. Icahn has said he didn't like how Ackman approached his short position in Herbalife, which he called "getting a roomful of people to bad mouth the company." Many speculated that Icahn bought a stake in Herbalife in a move against his old adversary.

Recall issued for Chrysler trucksChrysler said Thursday it is recalling 278,000 pickup trucks and SUVs because their rear axles can lock up unexpectedly. The recall covers many Ram 1500 pickups from the 2009 through 2012 model years as well as Dodge Dakota pickups from 2009 through 2011. Also included are Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango SUVs from 2009. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said a nut in the rear axle can come loose due to a missing adhesive patch. The axle can lock, and the driver could lose control of the vehicle. Chrysler said there have been 15 reported accidents but no injuries due to the problem.

WORLD

Output in Germany contracts

It was only a matter of time. With many of its debt-ridden euro partners in recession, Germany could only swim against the tide for so long. Figures Thursday showed that output in Germany, Europe's largest economy, contracted by more than anticipated in the last three months of 2012. And it was the German drop that lay behind a deepening of the recession across the economy of the 17 European Union countries that use the euro. Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, said the eurozone's economic output shrank by 0.6 percent in the final quarter of 2012 from the previous three-month period. The decline was the steepest fall since 2009, when the global economy was in its deepest recession since World War II. -- AP

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