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By Scott Malone, Jill Serjeant and Laila Kearney BOSTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - A blizzard swept across the northeastern United States on Tuesday, closing schools, cancelling thousands of flights and leaving residents in the hardest-hit parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut digging out as much as 2 feet (60 cm) of snow, though New York City was spared the storm's brunt. The governors of New York and New Jersey lifted travel bans they had imposed a day earlier and New York City's subway system restarted after being closed for 10 hours, but officials urged people to stay off snow-covered roadways. The snow was forecast to continue into early Wednesday morning in eastern New England, which could set a new snowfall record in Boston, where 18 inches (46 cm) of snow was already on the ground by midday, often piled higher by strong winds. "There are drifts now of four, five and six feet in some places," Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker told reporters.
Facebook, the world's most popular social network, and its Instagram photo-sharing site were interrupted temporarily Tuesday, provoking panic, rumours of a hack, and jokes of how more than one billion users were struggling to cope. "This was not the result of a third party attack," Facebook said in a statement after its services were restored. "Status Update: Facebook is Down!!!" Twitter user @kingpodge posted, in a photographed handwritten note.
A gauge of U.S. business investment plans fell for a fourth straight month in December, a potential sign that slowing global growth and falling oil prices were weighing on the economy. "The drop in (capital spending) will weigh on growth, though stronger consumer spending should keep GDP from slowing too much," said Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial in New York. The Commerce Department said non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, dropped 0.6 percent last month after a similar decline in November. Economists, who had expected a 0.5 percent gain, said the surprise drop last month likely reflected weak overseas demand for a wide range of capital goods and declining demand at home for energy-related equipment.