CNN Money: Top business headlines for Feb. 21

    6:58 AM, Feb 21, 2013   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- CNN's Maribel Aber has your top business and financial news on this Thursday, February 21.

    Unemployed would lose benefits if federal budget cuts go through
    The long-term unemployed can kiss goodbye almost 10% of their weekly jobless benefits if federal budget cuts go into effect on March 1. Many safety net programs, such as food stamps and Medicaid, are protected from the $85 billion in forced spending cuts, but extended federal unemployment benefits are vulnerable. Those payments kick in when state benefits, which last up to 26 weeks, run out.

    Office Depot to merge with rival OfficeMax
    Office Depot announced a deal to merge with smaller rival OfficeMax in an all-stock deal worth about $1.2 billion. Details on the deal were limited. The companies said they expect to save $400 million to $600 million annually from the combination. But there were no estimates of staffing cuts or store closings.The decision about what to call the combined company will be determined after a CEO is selected. The company will look at both current CEOs as well as outside candidates before deciding who will run the companies.The announcement itself was a bit of an embarrassment and cast a negative light on Office Depot's operational controls. 

    Wal-Mart's suppliers could be hit by payroll tax and gas prices
    Wal-Mart will report quarterly earnings on Thursday, but many investors are more focused on how the nation's largest retailer is faring this month. As the payroll tax and higher gas prices take a big bite of out paychecks, reports surfaced that Wal-Mart suffered in the second month of the year. Executives said Wal-Mart sales at the beginning of the month were a "total disaster" and the worst in seven years, according to emails obtained by Bloomberg News."Where are all the customers? And where's their money?" one of the emails from Cameron Geiger, senior vice president of Wal-Mart U.S. Replenishment, reportedly said. 

    Yahoo's new homepage is a good first step
    Yahoo unveiled its new homepage on Wednesday, in the company's most visual product overhaul since CEO Marissa Mayer joined the company in July. The new homepage, designed to be more "intuitive and personal," features a customizable news feed that allows users to browse the latest articles and headlines. Its main feature: an infinite scroll of personalized stories, tailored to users' preferences and filled with recommendations by friends on social networks. If you tend to click on more entertainment stories, you'll see more entertainment pages pop up in your feed.

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