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Posted: Feb 4, 2013 1:26 AM

Updated: Feb 4, 2013 1:26 AM


January rally stretches in February

NEW YORK (AP) January rally is extending into February.

The Dow closed above 14,000 on Friday, the first time it's passed that threshold since before the financial crisis.

Strong auto sales and optimism about U.S. jobs propelled by the bluechip index to a 149 point gain, closing at 14,010. So far this year, the Dow has gained 6.9 percent.

The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 15 points on Friday to 1,513. The Nasdaq composite added 37 to 3,179.

The government jobs report that pushed stocks forward was mixed. The U.S. said it added 157,000 jobs in January, in line with expectations. But unemployment inched up to 7.9 percent.

Automakers Toyota, Ford, GM and Chrysler all reported double-digit sales gains for January.


Asia stock markets mostly up after US rally

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) Asian stock markets were mostly higher today as investors continued to feel confident about stocks following last week's U.S. jobs report and Wall Street's rally.

Solid corporate earnings reports and expectations that the weaker yen will enhance the bottom line of Japanese exporters also lured investors to stocks.

Benchmark crude oil fell but remains above $97 per barrel. The dollar gained against the euro but fell against the yen.


Light week of data ahead

WASHINGTON (AP) December factory orders highlight a light week of economic data.

Orders for manufactured goods were flat in November, though durable goods orders were higher. Factories look to have been recovering from a slump in early 2012, but concerns remain that a weak global economy is holding back U.S. exports.

The Institute for Supply Management releases its service sector index for January on Tuesday.

The weekly report on jobless claims is out Thursday. Last week's report showed a spike in applications, but it remained below the 370,000 threshold associated with a falling unemployment rate. Friday's monthly jobs report showed U.S. employers continued to add jobs, though the jobless rate ticked up to 7.9 percent.

Trade figures are due Friday along with a report on wholesale inventories.


MF Global trustee says clients may be made whole

NEW YORK (AP) Former brokerage customers of MF Global could fully recover cash that was frozen when the trading firm collapsed.

That's according to the bankruptcy trustee in the Chapter 11 case. A court filing on Saturday by the trustee, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, outlines a potential range of recovery based on the latest projections of assets versus claims.

That range is from a potential shortfall of $6 million to a surplus of $120 million. If there's a surplus, customers whose money was frozen when MF Global collapsed could get a full recovery.

The case is pending before a bankruptcy judge in New York.

MF Global was headed by former New Jersey Governor and U.S. Senator Jon Corzine. It collapsed in Oct. 2011 after making a disastrous bet on European debt.


Boeing engineers begin vote on strike next week

UNDATED (AP) Just when Boeing really needs its engineers, they're throwing around the idea of a strike.

Boeing is working around the clock to solve the battery problems that have grounded its 787s around the world. Its unionized engineers are a big part of that effort.

But on Monday, Boeing engineers begin voting on a new contract and on whether to authorize a strike. The union is urging them to reject the contract.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace will count the ballots on Feb. 19. The union says a strike would shut down Boeing production. The company says it has made plans in case of a strike but it isn't sharing details.


AP Exclusive: 787 grounded, but batteries can fly

WASHINGTON (AP) While Boeing's 787 Dreamliners are grounded, the batteries causing the airliner's troubles can still fly.

At the time the government certified the 787 as safe, federal rules barred the type of batteries used to power the airliner's electrical systems from being carried as cargo on passenger planes because of the fire risk.

Now the situation is reversed.

Dreamliners worldwide were grounded nearly three weeks ago after lithium ion batteries that are part of the airliners led to a fire in one plane and smoke in a second. But new rules exempt aircraft batteries from the ban on large lithium ion batteries as cargo on flights by passenger planes.

Pilots and safety advocates say the situation doesn't make sense.


Report: FAA lags on fulfilling airline safety law

WASHINGTON (AP) A government watchdog says federal regulators are struggling to implement a sweeping aviation safety law in the face of industry opposition to many of its provisions.

A report by the Department of Transportation's Inspector General says the Federal Aviation Administration has experienced lengthy delays putting in place rules required by the law.

The delayed regulations would increase the amount of experience necessary to be an airline pilot, provide more realistic pilot training and create a program where experienced captains mentor less experienced first officers.

The law was enacted in 2010 following the last fatal U.S. airline crash nearly four years ago near Buffalo, N.Y.

The FAA said it has made significant progress, noting 90 percent of airlines now have voluntary programs to spot and correct safety trends.


Pizza Hut to roll out tiny new pies

NEW YORK (AP) Sick of pizza after the Super Bowl? Pizza Hut is hoping to tempt you with tiny new pies.

The chain is introducing "pizza sliders" Monday, which are smaller than its personal pies and can be ordered in batches for families that want to customize their orders with different toppings. They will be available in either a $10 box of nine or a $5 box of three.

A slider is 3.5 inches across, while a personal pie is 6 inches.

The roll out right after the Super Bowl is intended to generate excitement during a time when people may have had enough pizza. After the 2012 game, the chain launched its $10 Dinner Box, which helped grow sales over the past year. Now Pizza Hut is looking for another big spark.


Argentina plays last cards with NY appellate court

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) Argentina has played its last cards ahead of an appellate court hearing in New York that could set a global precedent for nations trying to settle bad debts.

Briefs filed early Saturday Buenos Aires time show the South American government is refusing to cede any ground to a group of holdout creditors it calls "vulture funds."

The holdouts want to be paid the full original promised value plus interest for bonds that Argentina hasn't made payments on since its 2001 debt crisis.

Instead, Argentina is offering the same terms that 93 percent of other bondholders accepted years ago. Its brief argues that anything less would be unfair to most investors and make it impossible for other nations to negotiate new terms for foreign debts they can't pay.

Both sides have 15 minutes for oral arguments on Feb. 27.


A rare, legitimate Madoff investment goes public

NEW YORK (AP) Jailed Wall Street fraudster Bernie Madoff may have finally picked a legitimate winner.

A biopharmaceutical company partly owned by the Madoff family had an initial public offering Tuesday that sold $33 million worth of stock.

The New York Post reports that Madoff's initial $2.2 million investment in the company, Stemline Therapeutics, is now worth $5.5 million on paper.

But the scammer might not be able to keep the money.

The trustee overseeing efforts to untangle Madoff's Ponzi scheme says the family's shares rightfully belong to his defrauded clients.

He has filed a lawsuit seeking to seize those shares on behalf of fraud victims.

Madoff is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison.


Energy industry develops nontoxic fracking fluids

PITTSBURGH (AP) The oil and gas industry is trying to ease environmental concerns by developing nontoxic fluids for the drilling process known as fracking.

But it's not clear whether the fluids will be widely embraced by drilling companies.

Fracking has made it possible to tap into energy reserves across the nation but also has raised concerns about pollution, since large volumes of water along with sand and hazardous chemicals are injected underground to free the oil and gas from rock.

CleanStim is a product by energy giant Halliburton Inc. that uses only food-grade additives. The company says it is working to reduce safety and environmental concerns for both workers and the public.

Two environmental groups say they welcome the development, but still have questions about other issues caused by drilling.


Solar development absorbing Calif. farmland

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) Environmental and land preservation groups are concerned about a growing number of solar generating plants being targeted on prime farmland across California's San Joaquin Valley.

The state mandates that one-third of electricity consumed in California must come from renewables by the end of the decade. Already the state has enough solar and other renewables in the pipeline to produce all of the state's power on an average day.

And new projects keep arriving. A survey of county planning departments show roughly 100 proposed for 40,000 acres of farmland across the valley, which would take up as much space as 470 Disneyland theme parks.

Groups such as Defenders of Wildlife and American Farmland Trust says the state needs to do more to direct solar farms to marginal land.


'Warm Bodies' heats up box office with $20 mil

NEW YORK (AP) The love-struck zombies of "Warm Bodies" swarmed the box office on Super Bowl weekend with a $20 million opening.

The Lionsgate PG-13 film easily led the box office, according to studio estimates Sunday. The weekend of the Super Bowl always means a significant slide in movie-going on Sunday, but "Warm Bodies" still lured many teenage fans.

The film is about a zombie whose love for a human redeems him. Lionsgate, which also released the "Twilight" saga, is calling it a "rom-zom-com" for its mix of humor, romance and the supernatural.

Action films continued to fare poorly in 2013, as Sylvester Stallone's "Bullet to the Head" opened with just $4.5 million.

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