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Wednesday's Daily Pulse

Is housing market starting to cool?

Home prices last year increased at their best rate since 2005, but two prominent, national housing experts say that momentum has stalled into 2014. The strongest part of the recovery in U.S. home values appears over, as higher prices and mortgage rates cool the market, according to the analysts who deliver the widely watched S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Indices. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]

Pew Report: Florida economic recovery isn't so rosy

With Florida’s gubernatorial candidates jostling over the state of the economy, a new report suggests the Great Recession rebound isn’t so stunning or complete. The non-partisan Pew Charitable Trusts’ new analysis ranks the 50 states on where they fall on tax, spending, debt and economic issues. The no-spin picture: Florida’s recovery is just ho-hum. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

For Scott it's about tax cuts and budget in 2014

Gov. Rick Scott, weighed down by lackluster poll numbers and a Republican Legislature intent on pursuing its own contentious reforms, appears content to keep it simple as he heads into the 2014 session. Months before he will ask voters to re-elect him for another term, Scott is choosing to push ahead with a limited agenda that sidesteps ongoing debates on hot-button issues. [Source: AP]

See also:
» Scott hopes Medicare Advantage cuts win seniors over to his side

Winter's fury one reason for booming Florida restaurant business

Snow plows and winter sniffles elsewhere may literally be money in the bank for Tampa Bay area restaurateurs this year. Last spring was a banner one for restaurants here, and 2014 is shaping up to be even better. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

What's a bitcoin? A Q&A about the digital currency

Early Tuesday, the world's most established exchange for Bitcoin disappeared from the Internet, sending the price of the virtual currency tumbling and prompting fears that the world's biggest experiment in electronic cash could soon be strangled by fraud or regulation. Here's an explanation of what bitcoins are, how exchanges work, and why the demise of the exchange, Mt. Gox, means many people may have lost a lot of money. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]


› Billionaire-to-be Brian Acton got tech start at Lake Howell High
Brian Acton got his start in the high-tech world more than two decades ago as a computer whiz kid in Central Florida. Now he is poised to become a billionaire. Acton is co-founder of WhatsApp, a Silicon Valley startup being sold to Facebook in a blockbuster deal potentially worth $19 billion.

› Office Depot and Office Max cut headquarters staff by 35%
Office Depot and OfficeMax have reduced their combined headquarters staff by 35 percent since merging, new CEO Roland Smith said Tuesday. The company, based in Boca Raton, declined to say how many of those layoffs were in South Florida, but jobs at the new headquarters eventually will be "higher than before the merger," spokeswoman Karen Denning said.

› Tech Data CEO talks publicly first time after 11-month accounting probe
For 11 months, the loquacious head of Tampa Bay's biggest public company was prevented from making public comments while regulators and an internal team probed an overseas accounting debacle that forced Tech Data to restate its earnings.

› Florida entrepreneur named a Champion of Change
The White House will honor South Florida entrepreneur Felecia Hatcher as one of 10 "Champions of Change" from around the nation on Wednesday. They will be recognized for their innovation in creating diversity and access in STEM fields.

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› Booze bills in 2014 Legislative session
Florida’s liquor laws are kind of like a fine beer or wine: complex and full of subtle distinctions. Lawmakers are taking another run this year at smoothing out these incongruities, but entrenched interests may continue to block some popular proposals.

› $3,000 hike slated for military family grocery bills
A military family could see grocery bills go up by $3,000 a year under the latest Pentagon budget proposal. Grocery stores for military families, also called commissaries, will be able to offer fewer savings over the next three years as the Department of Defense would slash most of the taxpayer subsidies that prop up these stores.

› US government dismisses reptile keepers' claims
The U.S. government has asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to overturn a nationwide ban on four giant snake species.

› Bloomin' Brands ends 2013 strong with annual revenues up 3.5 percent
Restaurant company Bloomin' Brands reported Tuesday that last year's revenues were up 3.5 percent over the previous year to $4.1 billion. It also said revenues from the fourth quarter were up 5.2 percent to $1.1 billion, primarily due to the opening of new restaurants and the acquisition of restaurants in Brazil.