A record Powerball jackpot, more Apple Map app fallout, and driving around with Siri top our roundup of the day's top business news stories.
Do You Feel Lucky? Powerball Jackpot Reaches $500 Million
A strategy by Lottery executives to build jackpots faster, drive sales, and generate more money for respective states is paying off. The Powerball jackpot reached $500 million on Tuesday in advance on the Wednesday drawing. There has been no Powerball winner since Oct. 6, and the jackpot already has reached a record level for the game, the Associated Press reports. It's the second highest jackpot in lottery history, behind only the $656 million Mega Millions prize in March. Since the jackpot reached over $300 million on Nov. 24, ticket sales over the next four days surpassed $140 million. Of the $2 cost of a Powerball ticket, $1 goes to the prizes and the other dollar is kept by the state lottery organization, the AP notes. After administrative overhead is paid, the remaining amount goes to that state's beneficiary programs. A single winner choosing the cash option would take home more than $327 million before taxes.
OECD Lowers Global Growth Forecasts
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) lowered its growth forecasts Tuesday and cautioned that decisive policy action must be taken to prevent plunging the world “back into recession,” Reuters reports. The OECD represents the world’s richest nation, whose growth forecast has been decreased to 1.4 percent from 2.2 initially forecast in May. The group also cautioned that the eurozone recession will also be deeper and more prolonged than previously thought. The biggest risks to the global economy are the U.S. fiscal cliff and the eurozone debt crisis, the OECD said.
ConAgra Foods Buys Ralcorp Holdings
ConAgra Foods agreed on Tuesday to buy Ralcorp Holdings for roughly $5 billion in cash, The New York Times reports. Together, the two companies would have $4.5 billion in annual sales of private label goods, made for bakeries, grocery chains, restaurants and other food service customers. ConAgra, whose existing brands include Chef Boyardee, Orville Redenbacher and Reddi-Wip, unsuccessfully bid $5.2 to buy Ralcorp, the largest private label food company in the U.S., last year.
Greece Dodges Bankruptcy Bullet Again
Greece will receive $57 billion in critical loans and billions more in additional debt relief to further help the beleaguered country stabilize its economy. Greece's euro partners and the International Monetary Fund agreed early Tuesday morning to release the loans in four installments beginning in December. The leaders also settled on a raft of measures - including a debt buyback program and an interest rate cut on loans - that will reduce the country's debts. But the country will still face years of economic pain as austerity measures agreed to as part of the bailout package are implemented, the Associated Press reports.
More Fallout at Apple over Maps App
Richard Williamson, the manager who oversaw the team that created the ill-fated Apple Maps app, has been fired, Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s Adam Satariano reports. The move comes four weeks after Scott Forstall, one of the late Steve Jobs’ favorite executives, resigned. Satariano cites unnamed “people familiar with the move” who say that Senior Vice President Eddie Cue is soliciting advice from outside map-technology experts and digital maps provider TomTom NV to fix the landmark and navigation data it shares with Apple.
Siri with the Fringe on Top
Thanks to General Motors, drivers won’t have to put the brakes on conversing with Siri, the electronic voice built into newer Apple iPhones. GM announced Tuesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show that it has found a way to link Siri to the new infotainment systems in its two smallest cars, Chevrolet Spark and Sonic, USA TODAY reports. Ford Motor also announced its improved voice recognition and the ability to more easily pair to new smartphones in the infotainment system that will be installed in its smallest and cheapest model, the 2014 version of the Fiesta. The new features underscore how automakers are struggling to incorporate the latest developments in smartphones into their cars, the paper said.