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Posted: Feb 19, 2013 1:26 AM

Updated: Feb 19, 2013 1:26 AM


S&P 500 extends winning streak, but barely

NEW YORK (AP) Can the S&P 500 index post an eighth straight week of gains? And can the Dow Jones industrial average reverse course after suffering a second straight weekly loss.

On Friday, indexes ended the day more or less where they started as investors held back ahead of a meeting of global finance ministers and central bankers in Moscow.

The Dow edged up 8 points to 13,981, while the Standard & Poor's 500 edged down 1 points to 1,519. The Nasdaq composite lost 6 1/2 points.


Asia stocks flat as US return from holiday awaited

BANGKOK (AP) Asian stock markets treaded water today in the absence of cues from Wall Street following a holiday in the U.S. Performance was mixed.

Some investors remained on the sidelines, waiting for Japan to announce the next head of its central bank.

Japanese stocks have soared in recent weeks as the yen has fallen in anticipation of steps that would push the currency lower.

Benchmark crude oil for March delivery fell to remain below $96 per barrel. The dollar gained against the euro but fell against the yen.


WASHINGTON In what could be a bellwether for how the economy is recovering, the National Association of Home Builders releases its housing market index for February. There are two large companies reporting quarterly financial results today: Dell and Marriot International.


ECB's Draghi pushes for European bank bailout fund

BRUSSELS (AP) The president of the European Central Bank says the 17-country eurozone must move swiftly in setting up a joint fund to restructure and wind down troubled banks, claiming it is needed to stabilize the financial system.

Mario Draghi on Monday told European lawmakers the fund should be financed by levies on financial institutions to ensure it will not have to tap taxpayers' money over the medium term.

He says the fund is the logical and necessary step to complete a banking union once the ECB takes over the oversight of the bloc's banks a step planned for next year.

A joint bailout entity is met with skepticism in countries like Germany, Europe's biggest economy, where leaders fear their money could be used to bail out banks in other countries.


European Union slaps more sanctions on North Korea

BRUSSELS (AP) The European Union has imposed trade and economic sanctions on North Korea while condemning "in the strongest terms" the nation's latest nuclear test.

The 27 EU finance ministers also demanded North Korea abstain from further tests and urged it to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty without delay. The statement came as the ministers met yesterday in Brussels.

Their action brings the number of North Koreans subject to a travel ban and an asset freeze to 26, and the number of sanctioned companies to 33. The ministers also banned the export of components for ballistic missiles, such as certain types of aluminum, and prohibited trade in new public bonds from North Korea.

The United States is currently negotiating in the Security Council for stronger U.N. sanctions.


Microsoft's Outlook takes aim at Google's Gmail

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Microsoft is so confident it has the Internet's best email service that it's about spend at least $30 million to send its message across the U.S.

The barrage begins Tuesday when Microsoft's twist on email, Outlook.com, escalates an assault on rival services such as Google Inc.'s Gmail.

After keeping Outlook.com in a "preview" phase since July 31, Microsoft Corp. is ready to accept all comers.

To welcome new users, Microsoft is financing what it believes to be the biggest marketing blitz in the history of email. Outlook.com will be featured in ads running on primetime TV, radio stations, websites, billboards and buses. Microsoft expects to spend somewhere between $30 million to $90 million on the Outlook campaign, which will run for at least three months.


WSJ: OfficeMax, Office Depot in merger talks

NEW YORK (AP) The Wall Street Journal is reporting that OfficeMax Inc. and Office Depot Inc. are talking about combining their companies.

The newspaper, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter, said Monday that talks are at an advanced stage, and an announcement could come as early as this week.

Representatives of both companies declined to comment.

The office supply business is very competitive. Staples is a big player, along with Amazon and big discount stores such as Costco and Wal-Mart.

Boca Raton, Fla.-based Office Depot has about 1,675 stores worldwide, mostly in the U.S. and Canada. OfficeMax, based in Naperville, Ill., has about 900 stores in the U.S. and Mexico. If the two companies merged, they could close stores that compete against each other, as well as reduce costs.


Burger King Twitter account suspended after hacking

UNDATED (AP) Burger King hasn't really been sold to McDonald's, despite what it says on Burger King's Twitter feed today.

Someone apparently hacked the account, posting obscene messages and changing the profile picture to a McDonald's logo.

The tweets stopped after a little more than an hour. Burger King says it reached out to Twitter to suspend the account and to get it back up and running again.

Burger King usually tweets several times a week. Today, just after noon, Eastern time, someone tweeted on the account, "We just got sold to McDonalds!" Dozens of other tweets and retweets followed, including some that contained racial epithets, references to drug use and obscenities.

A spokesman for Burger King says the restaurant chain doesn't know who hacked the account. The company says no other social media accounts were affected.

At the beginning of this month, Twitter acknowledged that cyber attackers may have stolen user names and passwords of 250,000 users.


Fishing's decline looms; will fish eaters notice?

GLOUCESTER, Mass. (AP) Fishermen and regulators have left no doubt that major cuts in fishing catch limits will devastate the industry in 2013.

But with region's fish eaters already so dependent on imports, they may barely feel the cuts that could ruin the centuries-old industry.

In May, fishermen will take a 77 percent reduction in the catch limit for cod caught in the Gulf of Maine. New England's southern ports will absorb a 61 percent cut on cod caught in Georges Bank.

Fishermen are trying to hang on for the short term, hoping new science soon shows better results.

But seafood eaters may not notice much. One fisheries economist estimates less than 12 percent of cod consumed locally is caught locally. And she says that can just be replaced with more imports.


Nestle finds horse meat in beef pasta meals

UNDATED (AP) Nestle SA has withdrawn beef pasta meals from sale in Italy and Spain after tests found horse DNA.

Horse meat has found its way into ready-to-eat meals sold across Europe in a meat mislabeling scandal that has shaken the food industry.

The world's biggest food and drinks maker said in a statement that the level of horse DNA in its Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini meals was above the 1 percent threshold that the U.K. Food Safety Agency uses to indicate likely adulteration or gross negligence.

Nestle said the contaminated beef was supplied by H.J. Schypke, a German company, used by one of Nestle's suppliers.

Nestle also withdrew from sale frozen meat sold as Lasagnes la Bolognaise Gourmandes to catering businesses in France.


New Zealand plans logo-free cigarette packs

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) New Zealand's government wants to get even tougher against smoking by making tobacco companies remove their logos from cigarette packs.

The country already has become one of the strictest anti-smoking countries by increasing taxes and making retailers hide packs below the counter. The new plain-packaging legislation would be similar to an Australian law that took effect in December.

But Associate Minister of Health Tariana Turia says New Zealand will wait until a trade challenge in Australia plays out before introducing the new law. That would be next year at the earliest.

Tobacco companies oppose packaging changes but lost a legal challenge in Australia's highest court last year. Some tobacco-growing countries have mounted another challenge through the World Trade Organization.

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