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•  From the Associated Press:

"The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits inched down to its lowest level in nearly three months last week as the US labor market continues to flex its muscle in spite of elevated interest rates.

"Jobless claim applications fell to 202,000 for the week ending Jan. 6, down by 1,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The four-week average of claims, which evens out some of the week-to-week volatility, ticked down by 250 to 207,750.

"Weekly unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. They have remained at extraordinarily low levels in the face of high interest rates and elevated inflation."

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"Prices ticked up in December, a reminder of the pressures still facing consumers after a year when inflation fell by nearly half and paychecks grew, delivering real wage gains in 2023 for the first time in three years. 

"Inflation’s cool down from historic highs keeps the Federal Reserve on track to hold rates steady later this month and contemplate cutting them later this year. But Americans aren’t in the clear yet. The consumer-price index increased 3.4% from a year earlier in December, the Labor Department said Thursday. The acceleration from November’s 3.1% advance shows inflation isn’t fully beaten.

"The December reading is well down from a 6.5% rise at the end of 2022, and inflation-adjusted wages rose 0.8% last year, a reversal after two full-year declines and a better gain than the year before the pandemic began."

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"CVS Health plans to close dozens of pharmacies inside Target stores at a time when pharmacy chains are struggling to grow retail profits.

"CVS will close the pharmacies between February and April this year, said a company spokeswoman. The closures are part of CVS’s efforts to pare down its retail footprint 'based on our evaluation of changes in population, consumer buying patterns and future health needs,' she said.

"Pharmacy chains have struggled to boost profits in recent years, squeezed by drug pricing and lower foot traffic as the pandemic waned. Last year CVS said it would cut costs and thousands of jobs as it remakes its business as a healthcare-service company. Earlier this month Walgreens Boots Alliance’s new Chief Executive Tim Wentworth said the company is on track with cost-cutting initiatives that aim to slash $1 billion in expenses this fiscal year. Last year Rite Aid filed for bankruptcy, a casualty of years of losses and failed mergers.

"CVS has operated pharmacies inside Target stores since late 2015 when it bought the business from the retailer for around $1.9 billion. It has pharmacies in around 1,800 of Target’s more than 1,950 U.S. stores. A Target spokeswoman declined to comment. The latest round of closures account for a small percentage of CVS’s pharmacies at Target stores."