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Associated Press

Posted on February 8, 2013 at 6:02 AM

Updated Friday, Feb 8 at 6:02 AM

WALL STREET

Stocks retreat as weak earnings provide no joy

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market rally that's pushed indexes close to record levels has stalled. But investors hope they will climb today on the last trading day of the week.

Stocks fell yesterday as weaker earnings and worries about Europe overshadowed healthier signs for the U.S. economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 42 points to 13,944 on Thursday, after falling as much as 134 points earlier. The index has traded largely sideways this week, after logging its best January in almost two decades.

The Standard and Poor's 500 fell 3 points to 1,509 and the Nasdaq composite also dropped 3 points, to 3,165.

Decliner stocks outpaced advancing ones on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume of 3.53 billion shares on the New York stock Exchange was above average.

WORLD MARKETS

Asia stocks rise

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets were mostly higher today.

An analyst says Chinese data for January "should be interpreted positively."

Benchmark crude oil fell slightly but remained near $96 per barrel. The dollar gained against the euro but was unchanged against the yen.

ECONOMY-DAY AHEAD

Two reports from the Commerce Department

WASHINGTON — There are two reports from the Commerce Department today that could influence the market on the last trading day of the week: Data on international trade for December and wholesale trade inventories for December.

APPLE CASH

Greenlight sues Apple over capital allocation

NEW YORK (AP) — Greenlight Capital is suing Apple in federal court in New York over attempts to eliminate preferred stock at the company.

David Einhorn, who heads Greenlight, said Thursday that the proposal would restrict the ability of Apple's board to unlock shareholder value.

Apple Inc., based in Cupertino, Calif., is the world's most valuable company.

Greenlight, a shareholder since 2010, is dissatisfied with the way Apple allocates capital. Einhorn, says his firm has been talking with Apple over the past several months about the creation of new preferred stock that would be distributed to Apple shareholders. He says the idea was rejected by Apple in September.

Apple started paying a dividend last year.

A representative for Apple could not immediately be reached for comment early Thursday.

CONSUMER BORROWING

US consumer debt up in Dec. on student, auto loans

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans stepped up borrowing in December to buy cars and attend school. But they cut back sharply on credit card use, continuing a trend that could hold back growth in the new year.

The Federal Reserve says total consumer borrowing rose $14.6 billion in December from November to $2.78 trillion. That's the highest level on record.

The increase was driven entirely by gains in student and auto loans. Borrowing in the category that measures those loans increased $18.2 billion, the biggest monthly gain since November 2001.

But credit card debt fell $3.6 billion. The drop may reflect consumers' worries about tax increases that took effect in the new year.

MAGAZINE CIRCULATION

US magazine circulation flat despite digital gains

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Magazine industry auditors say more U.S. magazines are selling more digital copies, but they still represented just 2.4 percent of circulation in the second half of last year as overall circulation was largely unchanged.

The number of magazine titles selling digital copies rose to 289, from 245 a year earlier. They sold 7.9 million digital copies, up from 3.2 million.

Overall circulation slipped 0.3 percent to 297.9 million copies. Paid subscriptions were up 0.7 percent, while single-copy sales fell 8.2 percent.

The Alliance for Audited Media said Thursday that top circulation magazines were the senior-focused AARP the Magazine and AARP Bulletin, with more than 22 million each. Cosmopolitan was the top seller at newsstands and other retail outlets, while Game Informer Magazine had the most digital copies sold.

CHINA-ECONOMY

China's trade picks up, inflation eases

BEIJING (AP) — China's trade picked up and inflation eased in January as a shaky economic recovery gained traction.

Much of the change was due to the Lunar New Year holiday, which distorts China's economic data each year. But analysts said data reported Friday looked promising.

Export growth accelerated to 25 percent from the previous month's 14.1 percent as companies rushed to fill orders before shutting down for a holiday break of up to two weeks. Import growth accelerated to 28 percent, more than quadruple the previous month's 6 percent.

China's trade growth has rebounded in recent months in a sign of economic recovery but longer-term trade measures are likely to show lower growth than January's double-digit increase. Analysts say the recovery will be gradual and too weak to support a global rebound without improvement in the United States and Europe.

BOEING 787-TEST FLIGHTS

FAA approves test flights for Boeing 787

WASHINGTON (AP) — Boeing is getting permission for test flights of its 787 as it tries to fix battery problems that have kept the plane grounded.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the test flights will have restrictions, including pre-flight testing and inspections, and in-flight monitoring. The tests are limited to airspace over unpopulated areas.

Boeing says the tests will happen on one of the six airplanes it used for testing before the 787 was certified by the FAA in late 2011.

The planes still can't be used for passenger flights until the FAA is satisfied that the battery problem is fixed. The grounding order issued on Jan. 16 meant that Boeing even needed FAA permission to fly an empty 787 from Texas to Washington state on Thursday after it had been painted.

CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS-OPTIMUM WEST

Charter to buy Optimum West in $1.63 billion deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Charter Communications says it is buying cable company Optimum West from CableVision Systems Corp. for about $1.63 billion in cash.

Optimum West manages cable systems in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah, with 304,000 video subscribers. Charter says the business is experiencing quick growth in video, Internet, and phone customers.

Charter, based in Stamford, Conn., says it has $1.5 billion in committed bank financing for the deal. The remaining costs will be paid with cash on hand and borrowing from its revolving credit facility. Charter expects the sale to close in the third quarter.

Cablevision corporate headquarters is in Bethpage. N.Y.

HEDGE FUND SCHEME

Hedge fund execs charged in alleged $311M swindle

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia say a jailed German billionaire and another hedge fund executive defrauded institutional investors of more than $300 million.

An indictment filed Thursday says K1 hedge fund group founder Helmut Kiener partnered with a North Carolina man to swindle Barclays Bank, Bear Stearns and BNP Paribas out of $311 billion.

Court documents say Kiener used some of his ill-gotten gains to buy oceanfront real estate in Florida, an executive jet, a helicopter, luxury cars and boats.

Kiener was convicted of similar charges in Germany in 2011 and sentenced to more than 10 years in prison.

Sixty-one-year-old John Tausche of Blowing Rock, N.C., was charged with bank fraud and money-laundering. His lawyer says he's cooperating with the government.

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