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Associated Press

Posted on February 15, 2013 at 5:02 AM

Updated Friday, Feb 15 at 5:02 AM

WALL STREET

Stocks waver as Europe's economy slows

NEW YORK (AP) — A slowdown in Europe's economy is overshadowing an encouraging report on the U.S. jobs market.

That caused the stock indexes to end little changed on Wall Street yesterday.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 9 ½ points to close at 13,973.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up 1 point to 1,521.38. The Nasdaq composite index rose nearly 2 points to 3,198.66.

Gloomy news out of Europe weighed on the market. Germany's economy shrank late last year, deepening a recession across the region.

Ketchup maker H.J. Heinz soared 20 percent after agreeing to be bought by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. Whole Foods slumped 10 percent after the grocery chain cut its earnings forecast.

Rising and falling stocks were evenly split on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was slightly higher than the recent average, 3.7 billion shares.

WORLD MARKETS

Asia stocks fall on slumping German economy

BANGKOK (AP) — Disappointing news about Germany's economy sent Asian stock markets down on Friday.

Europe's biggest economy contracted a worse-than-expected 0.6 percent in the last quarter of 2012 as recession deepened across the 17 European Union countries that use the euro. It was Germany's worst performance since early 2009, amid a global recession.

The worry for European policymakers is that output is declining beyond weaker, debt-laden economies like Greece and Spain. France, Europe's second-biggest economy, also suffered a drop in output.

The slowdown in Europe was gloomy news for Asia, which depend on exports to the region to help drive their economies.

Benchmark crude oil rose to remain above $97 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro and the yen.

ECONOMY-DAY AHEAD

FED: Industrial production report

WASHINGTON — There's only one major government report due out today. The Federal Reserve will release industrial production data for January this morning.

HEINZ-BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY

Buffett's Heinz buy puts spotlight on big deals

NEW YORK (AP) — Warren Buffett and a fellow billionaire are teaming up to snap up the Heinz ketchup company, marking the food industry's biggest ever deal and yet another sign that the lifeless merger market is finally picking up.

H.J. Heinz announced Thursday a $23.3 billion deal to be purchased by Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital, which was co-founded by Jorge Lemann, one of Brazil's richest men. The news came the same day that American Airlines and U.S. Airways announced their $11 billion merger. Just a little over a week ago, Michael Dell said he struck a deal to buy the computer company that he founded and bears his name.

Even before Thursday's blockbuster deals were announced, the year had been shaping up to be a promising one for mergers. U.S. mergers total $219 billion year-to-date, which is the fastest start to a year since 2000, according to Dealogic. At the same time last year, mergers had totaled just $85 billion.

TIFFANY & CO-COSTCO

Tiffany sues Costco over engagement rings

NEW YORK (AP) — A Tiffany & Co. subsidiary is suing Costco, claiming the wholesale club operator has been selling engagement rings wrongly labeled "Tiffany" rings.

The high-end jeweler filed suit in U.S. District Court in New York on Thursday.

Tiffany alleges trademark infringement, counterfeiting, unfair competition, injury to business reputation, false advertising and deceptive business practices. The company says the rings are not in fact Tiffany rings, nor are they in any way properly associated with Tiffany.

A representative for Costco Wholesale Corp. in Issaquah, Wash., could not be reached immediately for comment.

GERMANY-JOHNSON-&-JOHNSON-HIP RECALL

Report: J&J recalls thousands of hip implants

BERLIN (AP) — A German newspaper is reporting that Johnson & Johnson is recalling thousands of hip implants 2 1/2 years after a similar recall. The report says the Adept implants made by a J&J subsidiary showed a failure rate of 12 percent after seven years. It says some 7,500 of the implants were shipped worldwide between 2004 and 2011. In August 2010, J&J recalled two types of metal hip implants after they were linked to high failure rates.

ILLEGAL DIET PILLS

FDA seizes illegal dietary supplements in Florida

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration says U.S. marshals have seized illegal dietary supplements from a Florida company because some may contain a dangerous pharmaceutical ingredient.

Several of the supplements from Globe All Wellness LLC contain the active ingredient in Meridia, a weight loss drug that was withdrawn from the market in 2010. The drug was pulled after studies showed it could increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Among other problems, the Hollywood, Florida-based company made unsubstantiated claims about the benefits of its products and did not comply with manufacturing standards.

Dietary supplements are subject to lighter regulation than prescription drugs. They cannot contain prescription drug ingredients or claim to treat disease.

Government agents seized various lots of products including: SlimXtreme, SlimPlus, SlimLee, GelSlim, SlimDrops and Colonew.

TRUMP PLAZA SALE

AC's Trump Plaza sold for $20M

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A California company has bought Atlantic City's Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino for $20 million.

Thursday's sale is the latest in a series of bargain-basement deals for struggling casinos in the seaside resort.

The Meruelo Group of Downey, Calif., plans to close the deal by May 31.

The casino, which cost $210 million to build, opened in May 1984 as one of Donald Trump's pet projects. The real estate mogul has since limited his dealings in Atlantic City.

The sale leaves the company he once ran, Trump Entertainment Resorts, with just one casino, the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort. The company sold the former Trump Marina to a Texas company that rebranded it as the new Golden Nugget in 2011.

AIRBUS-BATTERIES

Airbus to drop lithium-ion batteries in A350

NEW YORK (AP) — Airbus is dropping lithium-ion batteries from its new A350 airplane because of uncertainty surrounding the technology that has led to the grounding of Boeing's 787.

The European planemaker said late Thursday that it has decided to revert to nickel-cadmium batteries for the A350. The plane is a wide-body jet rival to the 787 and is expected to make its first flight around the middle of the year.

Airbus says it does not expect the battery switch to delay the A350.

Federal officials grounded the 787 last month because of problems with its lithium-ion batteries that caused one fire and forced another plane to make an emergency landing.

Airbus says the A350 uses batteries in a different setup to the 787, making it unlikely that it would face the same problems.

RANDOM HOUSE-PENGUIN

US govt won't stop Random House, Penguin deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department says it has closed an investigation of a proposed merger between Penguin and Random House and will take no action to stop the deal.

Media company Pearson will merge its Penguin Books division with Random House, which is owned by German media company Bertelsmann. The merger would create the world's largest publisher of consumer books, with around a quarter of the market.

Bertelsmann will own 53 percent and Pearson 47 percent of the shares in the proposed publishing house, which will encompass all of Random House and Penguin Group's publishing units in seven countries including the U.S.

Among other regulators reviewing the proposed arrangement are the Canadian Competition Bureau and the European Commission.

Bertelsmann chairman and CEO Thomas Rabe called the Justice Department's decision an important milestone.

STOCK MANIPULATION SCAM

15 charged in Calif. stock manipulation scheme

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities say 15 people have been indicted on charges that they took part in a stock manipulation scheme that defrauded more than 20,000 people out of more than $30 million through investments in companies once touted by Pamela Anderson and Eric Roberts.

Among those charged with conspiracy are a former Los Angeles County deputy district attorney and the head of a public relations firm.

A three-year investigation revealed a pump-and-dump scam, where stocks were heavily promoted through slick marketing campaigns and misleading news releases, boosting their prices before they were sold off to reap large profits.

Authorities say Anderson and Roberts aren't suspected of any wrongdoing and they didn't profit from the stock.

Federal prosecutors say those charged carried out several fraudulent deals each year that generated millions of dollars and hid the profits in offshore accounts. If convicted, each of the defendants faces up to 100 years in federal prison.

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