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Associated Press

Posted on March 22, 2013 at 3:02 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 22 at 3:02 AM

WALL STREET

Weak Oracle sales, Cyprus fears weigh on US stocks

UNDATED (AP) — Investors are hoping some good news today will stop the slide in stocks .Oracle's weak sales results weighed down big U.S. technology companies yesterday and traders also showed they're worried about Cyprus running out of time to avoid bankruptcy.

All three major indexes felt the drag from technology stocks after Oracle reported an unexpected decline in sales in its fiscal third quarter. Oracle's results have an outsized impact on other technology stocks because it reports earlier than most of its peers.

Cyprus must raise about $7.5 billion in the next four days to avoid bankruptcy. Several plans have failed, including a proposal to tax deposits held by the nation's banks. If the Mediterranean banking haven is unable to secure a bailout, its banks will fail and it could be forced to leave the euro currency.

The Dow dropped 90 points, closing at 14,421. The S&P 500 was down 13 points to 1,545. The Nasdaq, which is weighted heavily toward tech stocks, fell a full percentage point. It closed down 31 1/2 points.

WORLD MARKETS

Asian markets muted amid Cyprus uncertainty

HONG KONG (AP) — Japanese stocks tumbled today as investors were disappointed by a lack of specifics from the new central bank chief on boosting the economy while other Asian markets fluctuated because of uncertainty over Cyprus' troubled bank restructuring.

The Mediterranean nation is trying to raise about $7.5 billion to avoid bankruptcy. If it can't, the European Central Bank has threatened to cut off emergency support for its banks, which would devastate its economy and possibly force it out of the euro.

The dollar fell against the euro and the yen.

Benchmark crude oil rose to near $93 a barrel.

US-BUDGET BATTLE-SENATE

Senate rejects Ryan budget

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has soundly rejected a balanced budget plan authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.

Five Republicans joined every Democrat present last night to kill the measure, which failed on a 40-59 vote.

The GOP's most ardent tea partyers -- Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah -- opposed the measure, which projects a balanced budget in a decade but relies on $600 billion-plus in tax revenues on the wealthy enacted in January to do it.

Susan Collins of Maine and Dean Heller of Nevada also opposed the Ryan plan, which cuts sharply from safety net programs for the poor and contains a plan to turn the Medicare program for the elderly into a voucher-like system for future beneficiaries born in 1959 or later.

US-IRAN SANCTIONS

Senators seek to target Iranian business in euros

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two senators are proposing a new round of Iran sanctions aimed at preventing the Islamic republic from doing business around the world in euros.

Iran is already largely cut off from international transactions in dollars, meaning its business with foreign banks and customers must be conducted in other currencies.

And the budget amendment proposed by Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia targets what is being called the "euro loophole."

The amendment seeks to block Iran from accessing foreign holdings in euros and using the European Central Bank's interbank payment system.

Senators hope to vote on the budget this weekend. Dozens of amendments may not get a vote.

OIL BOOM-GASOLINE PRICES

Drivers face high gas prices despite US oil boom

NEW YORK (AP) — The United States is increasing its oil production faster than ever. And American drivers are guzzling less gas.

But the national average price of a gallon of gas has surged to $3.69 a gallon. And it's expected to go higher -- perhaps approaching $4 by May.

Last year, U.S. oil output rose 14 percent to 6.5 million barrels a day -- a record increase. Meanwhile, U.S. gasoline demand is at its lowest level since 2001, as people switch to more fuel-efficient cars.

The experts say the laws of supply and demand haven't been repealed. They're working -- but not the way U.S. drivers want them to.

U.S. drivers compete with drivers around the world for every gallon of gas. And as the economies of Asia and Latin America expand, their energy consumption is rising. That puts pressure on fuel supplies and prices everywhere.

While the U.S. still consumes more oil than any other country, imports are falling. That leaves China, the world's largest oil importer, as the single biggest influence on global demand. And its consumption has risen 28 percent in five years.

Other factors making gas more expensive are high crude oil prices and temporary shutdowns of refineries in the winter.

RECALL-ACURA

Acura recalling TSX sedans for corrosion

TORRANCE, Calif. (AP) — Honda's luxury Acura brand is recalling 76,000 TSX sedans in 22 cold-weather states because corrosion could cause them to stall.

TSX sedans from the 2004 through 2008 model years are included in the recall.

Acura says that in places where road salt is heavily used, salt and water can saturate the carpet under the dashboard that covers the vehicle's electrical control unit. Salty water can corrode the metal case that houses the electrical unit. If that corrosion damages the wiring in the unit, the vehicle may stall.

Acura says no crashes or injuries related to the problem have been reported.

Acura will notify owners about the recall next month. The company will install a water-resistant cover over the electrical unit at no charge.

GLOBAL BOX OFFICE

Chinese, super fans boost global movie revenue

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Global movie ticket sales rose 6 percent in 2012 to a record $34.7 billion thanks to the growing popularity of movies in Asia and higher attendance by hardcore fans in the U.S. and Canada.

According to the Motion Picture Association of America, China overtook Japan as the biggest market outside the U.S. and Canada combined, with sales there growing 36 percent to $2.7 billion.

In the U.S. and Canada, moviegoers who attend once a month or more drove total sales up 6 percent to $10.8 billion.

These superfans represent only 13 percent of the population but bought 57 percent of all movie tickets, an increase of 7 percentage points from a year ago. About two-thirds of people in the U.S. and Canada saw a movie at least once last year.

FCC-GENACHOWSKI

Report: FCC Chair Genachowski to step down

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski (jen-uh-KOW'-skee) is reportedly set to announce Friday that he will step down.

That's according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited an unnamed FCC official and an industry representative on Thursday.

His five-year term is to end in June.

Genachowski, 50, chaired a group that advised President Barack Obama on technology, media and telecommunications policy in his first campaign for president and was appointed FCC chairman by Obama in 2009.

His departure would leave Democrats with a 2-1 majority on the commission after Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell leaves in a few weeks.

Genachowski has pushed for more access to high-speed Internet in rural America, and contributed to AT&T's decision to abandon its acquisition of T-Mobile in 2011.

A spokesman for Genachowski declined to comment.

BLACKBERRY CEO

BlackBerry CEO says iPhone is outdated

TORONTO (AP) — The chief executive of BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion says Apple's iPhone is outdated.

Thorsten Heins made the comment a day before the much-delayed new touchscreen BlackBerry goes on sale in the U.S.

Heins also said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday that a new keyboard version won't be released in the U.S. until two or three months from now.

Both models are part of RIM's attempt at a comeback after the pioneering brand lost its cachet not long after Apple's 2007 release of the iPhone.

Heins says a lack of innovation at Apple has left iPhone's user interface outdated. He says users have to go in and out of applications and it doesn't allow for multitasking like the new BlackBerry Z10 does.

DELL-ACQUISITION

Dell buyout intrigue heightens as deadline looms

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Michael Dell is about to find out if other bidders think his company is worth more than he does.

The answer could come today. It marks the end of a 45-day period that Dell's board of directors settled on to allow for offers that might top a Feb. 5 agreement to sell the PC maker to CEO Michael Dell and a group of investors for $24.4 billion.

Blackstone Group is emerging as a likely candidate to trump the current bid of $13.65 per share.

A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that Blackstone is so intrigued with the prospect of owning Dell that the firm has been courting former Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Mark Hurd to run Dell if it decides to mount a hostile takeover attempt.

SALESFORCE-STOCK SPLIT

Salesforce.com approves 4-for-1 stock split

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Salesforce.com says its board approved a four-for-one stock split that will take effect in April.

The company provides software for sales staff over the Internet. Salesforce.com said that each shareholder of record on April 3 will receive three shares for every one share they own. The new shares will be distributed April 17 and the company's stock will begin trading on a split-adjusted basis April 18.

EYE DRUG RECALL-FDA

FDA: Georgia pharmacy recalling all sterile drugs

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration says a Georgia compounding pharmacy that distributed a drug linked to eye infections is now recalling all of its injectable medicines following a federal inspection.

Clinical Specialties Compounding Pharmacy issued a recall Monday on dozens of lots of the Roche drug Avastin after receiving reports of eye infections in five patients treated with the medication. The Augusta, Ga.-based pharmacy repackages the drug in small doses to treat macular degeneration, a common vision disorder in seniors.

Avastin is approved for cancer, but many eye doctors say it is effective for macular degeneration.

The FDA said Thursday that its inspectors found issues at the pharmacy that raise questions about the sterility of its drugs. The company voluntarily agreed to recall all of its sterile products.

SUPER BOWL-POWER OUTAGE

Expert: Superdome outage due to device malfunction

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An outside expert investigating the cause of a partial power outage during Super Bowl XLVII has confirmed that the failure occurred because a relay device malfunctioned.

Utah-based forensic engineer John Palmer released his findings Thursday.

Entergy, the company that supplies electricity to the Superdome, and the stadium's management company hired Palmer to perform an independent analysis of the Feb. 3 outage.

Entergy has said it believed the outage was caused by an electrical relay device it installed specially to prevent a power failure at the dome. Entery New Orleans President and CEO Charles Rice says the company is pleased that Palmer's analysis confirmed the relay operated in an unpredictable manner.

The partial blackout delayed the game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers for 34 minutes.

PEPSI-NEW BOTTLE

Pepsi rolls out a new shape for bottle

NEW YORK (AP) — Pepsi is rolling out a new shape for its 20-ounce bottle for the first time in about 17 years.

The new bottle has a contoured bottom half that appears easier for holding, and the wraparound label is shorter so more of the drink is exposed. The change follows a number of splashy moves by PepsiCo Inc. to improve results for its namesake soda, including a multiyear deal to sponsor the Super Bowl halftime show and a wide-ranging deal with the pop star Beyonce.

The Purchase, N.Y., company has been working to revitalize Pepsi after losing market share to Coca-Cola Co. in recent years.

Andrea Foote, a PepsiCo spokeswoman, said the new 20-ounce bottle is part of the company's ongoing update of marketing and packaging materials for the cola.

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