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Business Highlights

Source : AP
Last Updated: Mon, Feb 04, 2013 23:00 hrs

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US stocks close down after Dow's run to 14,000

Stocks hit a big milestone, then promptly spun off the road.

Major indexes dropped on Monday, the first trading day after the Dow broke 14,000 and closed at its highest level since the financial crisis.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down as much as 143 points in afternoon trading. It closed down 129.71, or about 1 percent, at 13,880.08.

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Oh the drama! Super Ads go epic

NEW YORK (AP) — Super Bowl ads this year morphed into mini soap operas.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson shrugged off aliens so he could get more milk for his kids in a Super Bowl spot for the Milk Processor Education Program. Anheuser-Busch's commercial told the story of a Clydesdale colt growing up and returning to his owner for a heartfelt hug years later. And a Jeep ad portrayed the trials and triumphs of people waiting for the return of their family members.

The reason for all the drama off the field? With 30-second spots going for as much as $4 million and more than 111 million viewers expected to tune in, marketers are constantly looking for ways to make their ads stand out. And it's increasingly difficult to captivate viewers with short-form plots involving babies, celebrities, sex and humor — unless there's a compelling story attached.

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Super Bowl falls short of ratings record

NEW YORK (AP) — With a partial power outage, an overly excited quarterback and a game that suddenly turned from snoozer to sizzler, CBS had its hands full at the Super Bowl. The game fell short of setting a viewership record, but it stands as the third most-watched program in U.S. television history.

The Nielsen Co. said an estimated 108.4 million people watched the Baltimore Ravens' 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The most-watched events in U.S. TV history were last year's game, seen by 111.3 million, and the 2010 game, with 111 million viewers.

CBS had hoped to make it the fourth year in a row that football's ultimate game broke the record for most-watched event in American television history. But pro football ratings in general have been down slightly this year.

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S&P expects US lawsuit over its mortgage ratings

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government is expected to file civil charges against Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, alleging that it fraudulently gave high ratings to mortgage debt that later plunged in value and helped fuel the 2008 financial crisis.

The charges would mark the first enforcement action the government has taken against a major rating agency involving the financial crisis.

S&P said Monday that the Justice Department had informed it that it intends to file a civil lawsuit focusing on S&P's ratings of mortgage debt in 2007. The action does not involve any criminal allegations.

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US factory orders up 1.8 percent in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. factory orders increased in December even though companies trimmed their orders for goods that signal investment plans.

Factory orders rose 1.8 percent in December compared to November, when orders fell 0.3 percent, the Commerce Department said Monday.

But demand for core capital goods, a category considered a proxy for business investment plans, dipped 0.3 percent in December following strong gains of 3.3 percent in November and 3 percent in October.

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Yum warns of profit decline in 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — Yum Brands reported disappointing fourth-quarter results, and the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell expects profit to fall in the year ahead as it deals with concerns over its chicken suppliers in China.

Yum said it expects profit to decline as it works to rebuild consumer confidence. It first warned of troubles late last year after media reports that its suppliers were giving chickens unapproved levels of antibiotics.

Yum said fourth quarter net income fell to $337 million, or 72 cents per share. That compares with $356 million, or 75 cents per share, a year ago. Not including one-time items, it earned 83 cents per share.

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APNewsBreak: Effort building to change US pot laws

SEATTLE (AP) — An effort is building in Congress to change U.S. marijuana laws, including moves to legalize the industrial production of hemp and establish a hefty federal pot tax.

While passage this year could be a longshot, lawmakers from both parties have been quietly working on several bills, the first of which Democratic Reps. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Jared Polis of Colorado plan to introduce Tuesday, Blumenauer told The Associated Press.

Polis' measure would regulate marijuana the way the federal government handles alcohol: In states that legalize pot, growers would have to obtain a federal permit. Oversight of marijuana would be removed from the Drug Enforcement Administration and given to the newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms, and it would remain illegal to bring marijuana from a state where it's legal to one where it isn't.

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Oracle to buy Acme Packet for about $2.1 billion

REDWOOD SHORES, Calif. (AP) — Oracle will buy Acme Packet Inc., which makes equipment for telecommunications companies, for about $2.1 billion.

Acme's gear is used by more than 1,900 service providers and enterprises around the world. Its technology will complement Oracle's offerings for telecoms providers, said Citigroup analyst Walter Pritchard.

Oracle, a database software maker based in Redwood City, Calif., will pay $29.25 per share for Acme. That represents a 22 percent premium over the Bedford, Mass., company's Friday closing stock price. The companies valued the deal at $1.7 billion, net of Acme's cash.

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McDonald's to put 'Fish McBites' in Happy Meals

NEW YORK (AP) — McDonald's says it is offering its first new Happy Meal entree in a decade: Fish McBites.

The world's biggest hamburger chain said the Fish McBites will be widely available at U.S. restaurants starting this week through March, to coincide with Lent. The Happy Meals will come with seven pieces of Fish McBites, French fries, apple slices and a drink.

The company had announced last month that the Fish McBites would be sold on the standard menu in three sizes — snack (10 pieces), regular (15 pieces) and shareable (30 pieces).

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In Canada, the phase out of the penny begins

TORONTO (AP) — Canada has begun phasing-out its penny, after production costs exceeded its monetary value.

The Royal Canadian Mint on Monday officially ended its distribution of one-cent coins to financial institutions.

While people may still use pennies, the government has issued guidelines urging store owners to start rounding prices to the nearest nickel for cash transactions. Electronic purchases will still be billed to the nearest cent.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 129.71, or 0.9 percent, at 13,880.08. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 17.46 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,495.71. The Nasdaq composite index lost 47.93, or 1.5 percent, to 3,131.17.

In New York benchmark oil for March delivery dropped by $1.60 to finish at $96.17 a barrel. Brent crude, used to set prices for oil used by many U.S. refineries, was down $1.16 to end at $115.60 per barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline fell 4 cents to finish at $3.01 per gallon. Natural gas rose 1 cent to end at $3.32 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil lost less than 1 cent to finish at $3.15 a gallon.


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