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PODCAST: France, Hewlett-Packard get hit hard

Moody's credit rating agency has removed its top rating from France. The AAA now becomes AA1, with a negative outlook. Moody's says France is losing competitiveness and is uncomfortably exposed to the financial troubles of weaker countries in southern Europe. S&P cut its rating for France earlier this year.

Construction of new homes and apartments last month hit the highest rate since July of 2008. Pretty much all of that growth in October was in apartments.

More bad news for Best Buy. The latest earnings from the electronics retailer show a decline in sales -- the latest in a long pattern of declining quarters. The company's hoping for a holiday season turnaround under the new CEO and a promise to match prices of online retailers.

And perhaps the fat lady has not sung, after all... at Hostess. After filing to liquidate late last week, a bankruptcy judge has told the maker of Twinkies and HoHos to take another run at private mediation with its labor unions, to try to solve its cost problems.

Hewlett-Packard says fraud is behind the big quarterly loss it unveiled this morning. The computing company is writing down nine billion dollars because of what it calls financial "misrepresentations" by a company it acquired last year.
 
Television increasingly shares the family room with the tablets and smartphones people keep at their sides at all times. And you might think broadcasters would want your full attention. But rather than try to pull you away from your "second screens," they're trying to capitalize on them.

$6 billion was spent on the 2012 campaign, and a lot of that came from big donors. People, PACs and companies donated hundreds of thousands, in some cases millions.  So what do those donors do now that the election is over?

 NHL players and league officials could talk again today, trying to bring an end to the lockout in professional hockey -- now on day 65. If there's no season, it would mean a big hit to a sport that went through this same thing just eight years ago. It'll also be a missed opportunity for one hockey town in particular: the L.A. Kings.

Finally --  What causes so many of us to hit a midlife crisis? Is it the mortgage? The marriage? The realization that time is running out and our dreams of career, personal and financial fulfillment are slipping away? Or maybe... it's in our genes. A paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds compelling evidence of a mid-life crisis in apes. Results from more than 500 captive great apes around the world found the same mid-life drop in mood that's been documented in humans. The poor apes, of course, can't go out and buy a Mazda Miata to cope with it. On the positive side, they definitely don't need hair plugs.                     

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.

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