Update on the latest in business:


Associated Press

Posted on February 11, 2013 at 4:02 AM


Rally stalled?

NEW YORK (AP) — The major stock indexes finished Friday trading with gains, but for the week were relatively flat, suggesting the 2013 rally may be losing steam.

Traders were encouraged by a 21 percent decline in the U.S. trade deficit, but trading was thin as a winter storm blanketed the Northeast with snow.

The S&P 500 index rose eight points at 1,518, the highest point since November 2007. The Nasdaq composite rose 29 points to 3,194.

The Dow added 49 points to close at 13,993 on Friday. But the bluechip index finished the week lower for the first time this year.


Most stock markets closed in Asia for holidays

BANGKOK (AP) — Stock markets in Hong Kong, mainland China and Seoul were among those closed Monday for the Lunar New Year holiday. Japanese markets were also shut.

The few Asian markets open showed slight gains.

Benchmark crude oil for March delivery rose to near $96 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro and the yen.


Retail sales, industrial production highlight week's economic data

WASHINGTON (AP) — Investors find out on Tuesday whether Coca-Cola's sales continued to improve in the fourth quarter. But the government's economic numbers won't really start rolling out until Wednesday.

That's when the Commerce Department releases retail sales figures for January. December sales rose 0.5 percent, held back only by a decline in gas prices. Sales of autos and auto parts led all categories, and they were strong again in January. Also on Wednesday, the Commerce Department release its report on business inventories for December. Last month's report showed U.S. companies boosted stockpiles at a steady pace.

Thursday, we get the Labor Deparment's weekly numbers on unemployment applications.

Friday, the Federal Reserve reports on January output from the nation's factories, mines, and utilities. Industrial production has seen two consecutive months of gains.

Also Friday, the University of Michigan releases in latest gauge of consumer sentiment.


Lawmaker: Cyberattacks against US getting worse

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee says the U.S. is vulnerable to cyberattacks that could shut down financial services or destroy information that companies need for daily operations.

Rep. Mike Rogers says 95 percent of private sector networks are vulnerable.

What's being stolen? Personal identities, Social Security numbers, money from banks, blueprints for next-generation jobs. At risk are private companies and public agencies.

The Michigan Republican says hackers have stepped up attacks since the fall, and he points to China and Iran.

Rogers tells CBS' "Face the Nation" that the U.S. government has, essentially "set up lawn chairs, told the burglars where the silver is ... and opened the case of beer and watched them do it."


AMR, US Airways boards close in on merger decision

DALLAS (AP) — The boards of American Airlines parent AMR Corp. and US Airways have pushed back meeting on plans to consider a final merger, Associated Press sources say.

A source close to the matter says the AMR board wants to meet in person, and that the US Airways board would only meet after the AMR board approves a deal. The source requested anonymity because the talks are private.

It is not clear when the two boards will finally meet. People familiar with the matter say negotiations are continuing. They say issues being hammered out include AMR CEO Tom Horton's exact title and role in the combined company.

The committee representing unsecured creditors in AMR's bankruptcy case had planned to meet Monday.

The boards of American Airlines parent AMR Corp. and US Airways could decide early this week whether to merge their two companies and create an airline rivaling the world's biggest.

People close to the matter say the deal taking final shape would make AMR shareholders owners of slightly more than 70 percent of the new company's stock, but US Airways leader Doug Parker would be CEO.


Novo Nordisk says FDA rejects insulin drugs

NEW YORK (AP) — Novo Nordisk AS says the Food and Drug Administration rejected its applications for approval of once-per-day insulin drugs to treat diabetes.

The Danish drugmaker says it received a "complete response letter" from the FDA regarding its applications for approval of Tresiba and Ryzodeg, or insulin degludec, on Friday. Such a letter indicates the agency determined the application cannot be approved in its current form.

In November, panel of federal health advisers recommended that the government approve degludec. The FDA is not required to follow the group's advice, but it often does.

Tresiba contains long-acting insulin, and Ryzodeg contains both long- and short-acting insulins.

Diabetics either do not produce enough of the hormone insulin or do not use it efficiently, allowing excess sugar, or glucose, to accumulate in the blood.


France hunting fraudsters in horsemeat scandal

PARIS (AP) — Europe's horsemeat scandal is spreading, as French consumer safety authorities say companies from Romania, Cyprus and the Netherlands were part of a supply chain that resulted in horsemeat being disguised as beef in frozen lasagna sold around the continent.

French companies were also part of the supply chain.

France's junior minister for consumer goods, Benoit Hamon, said Saturday an initial investigation shows that one of the French companies bought frozen meat from a Cypriot trader, who had received the meat from a Dutch food company. And that Dutch company had received the meat from a Romanian supplier.

Romanian authorities are investigating. Dutch authorities say they are ready to investigate if necessary.

Lasagna meals and burgers suspected of containing horsemeat have been pulled from shelves in Britain, Ireland, Sweden and France.


US gas prices jump 25 cents over past 2 weeks

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — The average price of a gallon of gasoline has jumped 25 cents over the past two weeks.

The Lundberg Survey of fuel prices says the price of a gallon of regular nationwide is $3.59. Midgrade costs an average of $3.75 a gallon, and premium is $3.89.

Diesel was up 12 cents to $4.07 gallon.

Of the cities surveyed in the lower 48 states, Billings, Mont., has the nation's lowest average price for gas at $3.05. Los Angeles has the highest at $4.10.


Corn shortage idles 20 ethanol plants nationwide

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The persistent drought is taking a toll on producers of ethanol, with corn becoming so scarce that nearly two dozen ethanol plants have been forced to halt production.

The Renewable Fuels Association, an ethanol industry trade group, provided data to The Associated Press showing that 20 of the nation's 211 ethanol plants have ceased production over the past year, including five in January. While most expect to resume, they won't likely do so until after 2013 corn is harvested in late August or September.

Industry experts don't expect an ethanol shortage because millions of barrels are stockpiled and the remaining 191 plants are still producing.

But there is growing concern about the high price of corn and what happens if the drought lingers through another corn-growing season.


Solar industry grapples with hazardous wastes

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Homeowners on the hunt for sparkling solar panels are lured by ads filled touted it as a clean energy source, but they may not know there's a dirtier side.

While solar is a far less polluting energy source than coal or natural gas, many panel makers are nevertheless grappling with a hazardous waste problem. Fueled partly by billions in government incentives, the industry is creating millions of solar panels each year and, in the process, millions of pounds of polluted sludge and contaminated water.

To dispose of the material, the companies must transport it by truck or rail far from their own plants to waste facilities hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of miles away.

The fossil fuels used to transport that waste, experts say, is not typically considered in calculating solar's carbon footprint.

The waste from manufacturing has raised concerns within the industry, which fears that the problem, if left unchecked, could undermine solar's green image.


'Identity Thief' swipes No. 1 spot with $36.6M

LOS ANGELES (AP) — "Identity Thief" has turned out to be the real thing at the box office.

The comedy starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy debuted at No. 1 with a $36.6 million opening weekend.

"Identity Thief" opened solidly despite the winter storm that buried much of the Northeast. Distributor Universal Pictures estimates the storm might have choked off as much as 10 percent of the movie's business.

According to studio estimates Sunday, the previous weekend's top movie, the zombie romance "Warm Bodies," fell to No. 2 with $11.5 million. That raises its domestic total to $36.7 million.

The weekend's other new wide release, Steven Soderbergh's thriller "Side Effects," had a modest opening of $10 million, coming in at No. 3.


'Argo' named best film at Britain's Oscars

LONDON (AP) —Iran-hostage drama "Argo" is continuing its journey from awards-season outsider to favorite, winning three prizes, including best-picture, at the British Academy Film Awards.

Ben Affleck was named best director for the based-on-reality story of a longshot plan to rescue a group of American diplomats from Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and the film also took the editing trophy.

Daniel Day-Lewis won his universally expected best-actor trophy for "Lincoln" -- the only prize out of 10 nominations for Steven Spielberg's historical biopic.

Emmanuelle Riva, the 85-year-old French film legend, was named best actress for Michael Haneke's poignant old-age portrait "Amour." It also was named best foreign-language film.

Made-in-Britain French revolutionary musical "Les Miserables" won four prizes, including best supporting actress for Anne Hathaway. James Bond adventure "Skyfall" spied some elusive awards recognition, winning trophies for music and best British film.