Market Report: Restaurants to Allow Tablet Orders

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COLUMBIA - U.S. stocks dropped the most since August this week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 264 points to close at 15,755.36, a 1.65 percent drop. The NASDAQ finished at 4,000.98, down 1.51 percent, dropping 61 points, and the S&P 500, fell 1.65 percent to 1,775.32, with AT&T and Verizon being two of the biggest losers. The overall losses come as investors are increasingly worried about a taper from the federal reserve with better economic data coming out.

Looking at some of that economic data in the past four years reveals some interesting trends. According to a report from Bloomerg.com, spending on durable goods like automobiles or appliances has gone up 34 percent since the middle of 2009. On the other hand, spending on services like healthcare, rents, or utilities has only increased 6 percent. Economists are saying the reason for the difference is more young graduates living at home with their parents, so they continue to fall under family plans and don't pay rent.\

If you eat at Applebee's, Chili's or Buffalo Wild Wings, you'll be seeing a tablet sized change soon. Applebee's has announced they're going to start using tablets called E la Carte Presto tablets to allow customers to place orders and pay their checks. The restaurant says 1,800 locations will have the tablets by the end of next year. Buffalo Wild Wings is testing out the tablet and Chili's will be putting them in hundreds of their locations starting next year. Applebee's said when they tested the tablets, tips and appetizer sales increased.

A new currency called Bitcoin has been in the news a lot lately, so here's a quick explanation of it. First, Bitcoins are virtual, not hard currency, like an email versus a mailed letter. They're discovered during a process called "mining" which is just when people use computers to solve a very complex math problem, which releases new coins. The problem gets more difficult each time and so far 11 million coins have been discovered. There are only 21 million coins that will ever exist because of the way the computer program is set up. You keep Bitcoins in an online account called a "wallet" using a secure website. The downside is the website isn't FDIC insured like normal banks if your account is hacked and your money is stolen. It was originally popular with drug dealers because it's almost entirely anonymous, but it's becoming more mainstream. The currency isn't widely accepted yet, but sites like Wordpress or OkCupid already accept it and there's even a rumor Starbucks might accept it soon. Right now one Bitcoin is equal to roughly $900.

As far as the week ahead, on Wednesday housing starts and building permit numbers come out, which is a key component of judging economic growth. There will also be an announcement by the Federal Reserve, which is probably the highlight of the week. Thursday, the initial jobless claims come out, and employment is the main area people are looking at to judge the economy's health right now.

 

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