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Bloomberg reports that “The U.S. jobless rate unexpectedly fell in January to the lowest level since April 2009, while payrolls rose less than forecast, depressed by winter storms.

“Unemployment declined to 9 percent last month from 9.4 percent in December, the Labor Department said today in Washington. Employment rose by 36,000 workers, the smallest gain in four months, after a 121,000 rise in December that was larger than initially reported. Payrolls were projected to climb 146,000, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.”

• The Chicago Tribune reports that “Kraft Foods Inc. said an appeals court agreed to hear arguments over whether Starbucks Corp. can proceed with taking over distribution of its bagged coffee as planned on March 1.

“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Thursday said it would hold an expedited appeal, according to Kraft, which must file its argument by Feb. 9. A final ruling on the appeal could come by the end of the month. Kraft planned to appeal last Friday’s ruling, where the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denied a preliminary injunction that would block Starbucks from taking over the distribution from Kraft in just a couple of weeks.”

Starbucks has accused Kraft of dropping the ball in its distribution of Starbucks products to grocery stores and other retailers; Kraft has denied the charges. While Starbucks reportedly offered $750 million to resolve the dispute and end their relationship, Kraft is said to be holding out for a bigger payday and hoping that the courts would prevent the coffee giant from ending their deal before some sort of mutually agreeable resolution could be reached.

Starbucks has said it plans to expand and strengthen its distribution to retailers on its own.
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