1. Rounding out the top-performing sectors of 2014 was an unlikely pair: tech (+16%) and consumer staples (+13.2%)—the most aggressive and most defensive areas of the market, running side-by-side toward the finish line, with confounded spectators struggling to concoct a narrative for this. Why would the least cyclical sectors—healthcare, staples and utilities—lead the markets in a year in which unemployment plummeted and GDP growth gained momentum? Much to the chagrin of the pundit class, sometimes there are no satisfying answers. To quote Kurt Vonnegut:
3. Technology and telecoms are on the up as are some fast food companies, including Starbucks, which BrandZ puts in this category, and McDonald's, whose brand value is risen by nine per cent even though its ranking is unchanged.
4. The web portal, which has put mobile technology at the heart of a plan to turn around its struggling fortunes, has turned to British teenager Nick D’Aloisio and Summly, which automatically summarises news stories for the small screen.
6. Another indicator of bitcoin’s momentum is the number of mainstream businesses that accept it. In 2014, Microsoft MSFT -0.84% , PayPal, Dell, and Dish Network DISH 2.24% , among many others, announced they would accept bitcoin as payment for a range of products. Those companies joined companies such as Target (which accepts Gyft, which can be purchased with bitcoin), Overstock.com, and WordPress. Even the publisher of Fortune, Time Inc. TIME -0.40% ,began accepting the cryptocurrency for magazine subscriptions. Yahoo YHOO -1.02% also added bitcoin to its Yahoo Finance tracking site last year, lending the currency additional legitimacy, and Google Finance GOOG -1.30% quickly followed suit. “Adoption of bitcoin is becoming more commonplace, and we feel it is relevant to our industry and to our users,” a Yahoo spokesperson told CoinDesk. Don’t be at all surprised if Yahoo soon goes even bigger on bitcoin—whether by acquiring a bitcoin startup or some other announcement—as part of CEO Marissa Mayer’s ongoing effort to make the stalling search giant more hip.
But the economic picture has brightened considerably in Arizona, as the housing market stabilized and unemployment hit a post-recession low of 7.8% in May. As part of Forbes’ annual Best States for Business, we look at 35 factors to determine the best and worst states, including projected employment. Arizona is expected to have the fastest job growth at 3% annually over the next five years, according to Moody’s Analytics. The job gains are projected to boost household incomes 3.6% annually through 2017, which ranks second best in the U.S. after Illinois. The added jobs also go hand-in-hand with the state’s economic growth, which Moody’s forecasts to expand at a U.S.-best 4.6% annually.