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Top 3 Business Stories of the Day

Brokerage firm Cowen and Co cut its earnings forecast on Target after the massive theft of card data over the holiday season, saying the breach was likely to drive away customers and impact margins as the retailer increases discounts. Investors have so far downplayed the impact from hackers who stole data on up to 40 million credit and debit cards from Target shoppers during the first three weeks of the holiday season. Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell for a second week and hit a 13-year low as mortgage rates rose due to a bond market sell-off following the Federal Reserve's decision to pare its bond purchase stimulus in January. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 6.3 percent to the lowest level since December 2000. The MBA typically reports its weekly application data on Wednesday, but released the data a day early due to the Christmas holiday. BlackBerry Ltd co-founder Mike Lazaridis cut his stake in the company to 4.99 percent from 8 percent, and said that a group, which included Lazaridis, walked away from exploring a bid for the troubled smartphone maker. Co-founders Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin in October disclosed in a regulatory filing they were considering a bid to buy the company. BlackBerry abandoned its plan to sell itself last month after a two-month review of strategic options and talks with potential buyers that included Facebook, Lenovo and private equity firms such as Cerberus Capital.

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