BRIEFCASE

LinkedIn Corp.’s head office in Mountain View, Calif.

Paul Sakuma

North Carolina’s Attorney General Roy Cooper said Friday he would challenge an electricity rate increase taking effect today that will cost the average home an extra $88 a year.

The N.C. Utilities Commission decided Thursday to approve a 7.5 percent average increase in power costs over two years for about 1.3 million customers of the former Progress Energy. The electricity provider for much of eastern North Carolina and the city of Asheville is now a subsidiary of Duke Energy Corp., the country’s largest electricity company.

The rate increase will cost consumers an extra $326 million over the next two years. The greatest increase for the hike taking effect today will fall on residential customers, who will see a 6.5 percent average increase this year while some large customers see rates increase by 2.7 percent. Costs would rise again in June 2014 for all customer categories.

The utilities commission said though it recognized the rate increase it approved Thursday would hit some customers, setting rates too low would hamper the delivery of “safe, adequate and reliable electric service.”

Americans cut back on spending in April after their income failed to grow, a sign that economic growth may be slowing. Consumer spending dropped a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent in April, the Commerce Department said Friday. That was the first decline since last May.

The Dell board is standing behind a buyout offer from the company’s CEO and founder, and it has asked shareholders of the slumping PC maker to approve the deal in a July 18 vote.

The company’s announcement Friday is the latest volley in a battle with prominent shareholders over the company’s future and Michael Dell’s role in it.

Dell directors unanimously recommended an offer from Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners to take the company private for $24.4 billion.

Dell’s largest shareholder in a letter Friday urged investors to reject that offer. It said that it will provide more details about its own offer soon.

LinkedIn is joining the Internet services tying account security to mobile phones.

In a change announced Friday, the roughly 225 million users of Linked- In’s online professional networking service can now choose to require a code to be sent to their phones whenever an attempt is made to log in to an account from a device for the first time.

The code sent to the phone is needed to complete the login process. The extra step is designed to lessen the chances of computer hackers breaking into user accounts. LinkedIn had about 6 million user passwords stolen and posted on the Internet last year.

The unemployment rate across the 17 European countries that use the euro hit a record 12.2 percent in April, and the number of unemployed is on track to reach 20 million by year’s end.

The worsening jobs crisis points to the recession that has gripped the euro alliance. Many countries are struggling to stimulate growth while grappling with a debt crisis that’s led governments to slash spending and raise taxes.

In 2008, before the worst of the financial crisis, the rate was far less — around 7.5 percent.

Wire reports