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TMCNet:  AP Business NewsBrief at 12:46 p.m. EST

[February 07, 2013]

AP Business NewsBrief at 12:46 p.m. EST

(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Stocks retreat as weak earnings provide no joyNEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks slumped on Wall Street Thursday, suggesting that the rally which has pushed indexes close to record levels may have run its course. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 118 points at 13,870 as of 12:04 p.m. The index has shed almost 1 percent since the start of the week, after logging its best January in almost two decades.


Retailers report strong January salesNEW YORK (AP) _ Sometimes, the devil is in the deals. Americans shopped the winter clearance racks in January, resulting in strong sales during the month for retailers. But spending is expected to slow as the deals dry up heading into the spring, and Americans digest rising gas prices and a 2 percent payroll tax hike that started in January.

US unemployment aid applications decline to 366KWASHINGTON (AP) _ Fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, indicating companies continue to hire at a modest but steady pace. The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment benefits fell 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 366,000.

Oil prices fall on ECB chief's comments on euroNEW YORK (AP) _ The price of oil fell below $96 per barrel Thursday after the head of the European Central Bank expressed concern over a recent rise in the euro. The euro was down against the dollar, to $1.3391 from $1.3525 on Wednesday. And European Central Bank president Mario Draghi pledged Thursday to keep a close eye on the economic impact of the rise of the euro, which has gained on the dollar in recent months. It rose from around $1.23 in mid-August to over $1.35 this week. A strong euro hurts the export prospects of the 17 countries in the common currency zone.

Northeast readies for 1st major snow storm of yearBOSTON (AP) _ People in the Northeast stocked up on food and supplies and road crews readied salt and sand Thursday as the region braced for a major winter storm that could bring up to 2 feet of snow to places that haven't seen significant accumulations in more than a year. The National Weather Service said most of southern New England could see anywhere from 18-24 inches between Friday and Saturday, and some other forecasts cautioned that totals could be even higher. Suffolk County in New York was under a blizzard watch, as were parts of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

US productivity fell at 2 percent rateWASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. worker productivity shrank in the final three months of 2012 although the decline was caused by temporary factors. Productivity contracted at an annual rate of 2 percent in the October-December quarter, the biggest drop since the first quarter of 2011, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Productivity had risen at a 3.2 percent rate in the July-September quarter.

Sprint posts big 4Q loss, revenue risesNEW YORK (AP) _ Sprint Nextel Corp., the country's third largest wireless carrier, on Thursday said it lost $1.3 billion in its fourth quarter, about the same as a year ago, as it revamped its network for a comeback versus bigger competitors. The company's focus, and that of its investors, is on its long-term turnaround efforts rather than on short-term results. Sprint is selling 70 percent of itself to Japanese carrier Softbank Corp. for $20 billion. That deal is expected to close this summer, and provide long-ailing Sprint with a much-needed infusion of capital.

Humbled Toyota rolls out new Tundra pickupDETROIT (AP) _ Back in 2007, Toyota trumpeted its bulked-up Tundra as a game-changer that would cut into Detroit's dominance of the U.S. pickup truck market. "The truck that's changing it all," was the tagline from an ad that featured the beefy Tundra pulling a 10,000-pound trailer up a steep ramp.

ECB's Draghi assessing impact of strong euroBERLIN (AP) _ European Central Bank president Mario Draghi pledged Thursday to keep a close eye on the economic impact of the rise of the euro, a move that surprised many in the markets and sent Europe's single currency skidding lower. Draghi said the recent appreciation of the euro was a sign of rising confidence in the region but he acknowledged that it could weaken economic growth.

EU leaders brace for tough fight at budget summitBRUSSELS (AP) _ European Union leaders drew hard lines Thursday ahead of a struggle over EU spending for the next seven years that reflects deep divisions about the role of their union. On one side, newer _ and generally poorer _ members see Europe as a club that is only as strong as its weakest member. Led by Poland, they argue that Europe means nothing if the budget isn't used to bridge the wealth gap and help restart growth.

(c) 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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