S&P drops Japan’s credit rating because of debt

Standard & Poor’s cut Japan’s credit rating for the first time in almost nine years Thursday, issuing a harsh critique of the government’s ability to control its ballooning debt.

The agency lowered Japan’s long-term sovereign debt rating one notch to AA-, which is the fourth highest level and the same rating given to China, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The news sent the dollar as high as 83.18 yen from 82.20 yen.

Average 30-year mortgage rate rises to 4.80 percent

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage rose for the second week in a row, buoyed by higher bond yields.

Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate rose to 4.80 percent this week from 4.74 percent the previous week. The average rate on the 15-year loan, a popular refinance option, inched up to 4.09 percent from 4.05 percent.

Mortgage rates have changed little in the new year after spiking more than half a percentage point in the last two months.

Investors sold off Treasurys bonds during that stretch, driving yields lower. Mortgage rates tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note.

The 30-year loan rate reached a 40-year low of 4.17 percent in November, and the 15-year mortgage rate fell to 3.57 percent, the lowest level on records dating back to 1991.

LinkedIn hopes its IPO will raise $175 million

LinkedIn Corp., the company behind the largest website for professional networking, plans to raise at least $175 million in an initial public offering of stock that could open the IPO floodgates for other widely used online services that connect people with common interests.

The IPO papers filed Thursday by LinkedIn puts the 8-year-old company on a path to make its stock market debut in the next three to four months, barring any major stumbling blocks.

Amazon stocks drop after revenue target missed

Amazon.com uncharacteristically missed Wall Street’s revenue target in the fourth quarter, sending the stock tumbling 9 percent and showing that not all Internet companies benefited equally from the holiday shopping season.

The results from the world’s biggest online retailer highlight the unevenness of retail’s recovery, as people have picked up their spending after the official end of the Great Recession but are being picky about what they buy.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos noted that the company hit two important milestones in the quarter: cracking $10 billion in quarterly revenue for the first time, and selling more electronic books for Amazon’s hot-selling Kindle device than paperbacks.

Still, the revenue miss jolted investors, signaling that expectations were running too hot for a company whose stock price had jumped nearly 75 percent since its 52-week low of $105.80 in July.

NBCUniversal drops space between corporate names

NBC Universal is now NBCUniversal — without the space, the peacock or the globe silhouette.

That was part of the message delivered to the company’s 25,000 employees at a town hall gathering on Thursday that featured top executives from prospective new owner Comcast Corp.

The bird will remain part of the brand of NBC, the broadcaster, while the spinning globe will still be part of the graphic for Universal, the movie studio and theme park operator.

And officially, the company’s name is still NBC Universal. But the space-less corporate logo is meant to represent the unity of its two main divisions as it is set to be taken over by cable operator Comcast in a deal that is to close today.