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Wednesday's Daily Pulse

Shoppers spent less than expected in 2013

More consumers spent less than they expected, but only 14 percent said they spent more than expected, reported Bankrate.com, a Palm Beach-based consumer financial firm. Being on a budget was fairly universal: no age group spent more than expected, Bankrate.com data showed. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]

Wall Street rebounds as sales point to healthy economy

U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday, erasing much of the previous session's steep drop, after as a strong December retail sales reading eased concerns about a slowdown in the economy. [Source: Reuters]

Agriculture Commissioner proposing 'complete rewrite of Florida's charity laws'

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on Wednesday will propose “a complete rewrite of Florida’s charity laws,” aiming to increase state oversight and transparency in direct response to investigative reports published last year in the Tampa Bay Times. [Source: Times/Herald]

Florida tops US in ID theft, tax fraud

A top federal prosecutor says Florida has the nation's highest rate in the nation of identity theft, with the information often used to commit tax fraud. Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said Tuesday that Florida had an identity theft rate in 2012 of more than 361 complaints per 100,000 residents, tops in the country. [Source: AP]

Questions linger about Florida's involvement in Common Core

Will Florida continue to be part of the Common Core initiative? The answer isn't clear. The words "Common Core" have become a political lightning rod, both in Florida and elsewhere. More from the Tampa Bay Times and StateImpact Florida.


› Tampa International Airport wants to hear from women- and minority-owned businesses
Tampa International Airport is planning to spend millions to remake its concessions in the next few years, and the airport wants to make sure that women- and minority-owned businesses have a chance to join that future roster of shopping and dining options.

› Sarasota company's technology making hospitals safer
The IntelligentM hand hygiene-monitoring system is a little like Big Brother on a mission of mercy, its goal being to encourage proper hand washing so health care workers do not accidentally infect patients.

› Air Force expects more Cape Canaveral launches in 2014
The Space Coast could see as many as 21 launches this year, the Air Force's 45th Space Wing reported today. That would be a 50 percent increase over last year, which saw 14 launches of spacecraft on Atlas V, Delta IV and Falcon 9 rockets, plus submarine-launched Trident missile tests.

› St. Petersburg job fair draws smaller crowd than past years
Tampa Bay's economy isn't without its post-recession blues, from a dearth of high-paying jobs to a glut of long-term jobless, particularly among older workers. But a walk through Tuesday's job fair in downtown St. Petersburg underscored that the worst of the recession is long gone.

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› Mortgage-forgiveness tax break expires, triggering new worries for distressed homeowners
It's deja vu all over again for struggling Florida homeowners: The massive tax break that saved them tens of thousands of dollars has once again expired. Underwater homeowners whose lenders let them sell their home for less than they owed have not had to pay taxes on that debt thanks to a law passed shortly after the housing bubble burst.

› UM seeks nonprofits to participate in marathon advertising event
The University of Miami School of Communication is seeking nonprofit organizations to work with students during its 5th annual PhilADthropy advertising event. During this 25-hour ad-a-thon that will be Feb. 7-8, UM communications students will provide free advertising and creative services to local nonprofits.

› Mid Florida Tech students win state hospitality competition
Four Orange County high school students who take classes at Mid Florida Tech have won a state competition showing they know hotel and resort operations inside and out. As a result, they are headed on to an international face-off.

› Pinellas County wants in on the craft beer craze
For years, the county has had a rule that put beer makers in a bind. But the sudden boom in craft beer's popularity in Florida, and in Tampa Bay especially, has changed the county's thinking, as did the half-dozen inquiries from beer makers interested in Pinellas locations.