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NEW THIS DIGEST:
— Adds: HEWLETT-PACKARD-SHAREHOLDER REVOLT, TAXES-FEDERAL WORKERS, JC PENNEY-JOB CUTS, GOOGLE-WI-FI INVESTIGATION
— Updates: WALL STREET
WASHINGTON — The American job market isn't just growing. It's accelerating. Employers added 236,000 jobs in February and drove down the unemployment rate to 7.7 percent, its lowest level in four years. The gains signal that companies are confident enough in the economy to intensify hiring even in the face of tax increases and government spending cuts. Last month's growth capped a fourth-month hiring spree that has added an average of more than 200,000 jobs a month, fueled by steady improvement in housing, auto sales, manufacturing and corporate profits, along with record-low borrowing rates. By Economics Writer Christopher Rugaber.
— ECONOMY-SURVEYS-GLANCE — A tale of 2 employment surveys, covering households and businesses, at a glance.
NEW YORK — A burst of hiring in February pushs stocks higher on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 67.58 points, or 0.5 percent, to 14,397.07. The index surpassed its previous record close Tuesday logs a sixth straight increase Friday. By Markets Writer Steve Rothwell.
WALL STREET WEEK AHEAD
NEW YORK — Is it too late? If you've stayed out of stocks recently, you might be worried that you've missed your chance to get back in. After all, they must be expensive now that the Dow Jones industrial average has risen 118 percent to a record high in four years. The good news is that stocks still seem a good bet despite the run-up. The bad news: They're no bargain, at least by some measures of their value. By Business Writer Bernard Condon.
Eds: Can be used all weekend.
WASHINGTON — Elizabeth Warren rose to national prominence as an outspoken consumer advocate decrying Wall Street abuses and became the progressive movement's darling candidate in last fall's Senate elections. Like most freshman lawmakers, the Massachusetts Democrat has maintained a low profile during her first few months in office. That's starting to change as she uses her Senate Banking Committee perch to push regulators for tougher actions against errant banks. By Andrew Miga.
BRITAIN-HIGH STREET LOWS
LONDON — The small shopkeepers in Greenwich are running out of time. In the London borough that gave its name to Greenwich Mean Time, businesses like Lorraine Turton's are in danger of being relegated to history — the victims of online shopping, changing tastes and, increasingly, the protracted recession. If the trend continues, the character of the country's cities and towns, whose high streets have attracted retailers for hundreds of years, could change profoundly. By Danica Kirka.
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — As the storied candy brand celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, Peeps' first TV ad in a decade captures an essential truth about the spongy confection made of sugar, corn syrup and gelatin: Love them or hate them, people do all sorts of things with Peeps, only some of which involve giving them to kids at Easter or eating them straight from the box. By Michael Rubinkam.
MARKETS & ECONOMY:
WASHINGTON — First there was a two-year pay freeze. Now furloughs loom, as federal agencies work to meet the across-the-board budget cuts that went into effect last week. The result: anxiety and low morale in a workforce often envied for job security. By Sam Hananel.
— BUDGET BATTLE-GLANCE — A look at how the cuts could affect government operations and you.
WASHINGTON — As the president and lawmakers spar over huge federal deficits, they're confronted by a classic contradiction: Most Americans want government austerity, a survey shows, but they also want increased spending on a host of popular programs: education, crime-fighting, health, Social Security, the environment and more. Less for defense, space and foreign aid. By Tom Raum.
— TAXES-FEDERAL WORKERS — The number of federal workers and retirees who owed delinquent income taxes jumped by nearly 12 percent in 2011, the Internal Revenue Service says. Nearly 312,000 federal workers and retirees owed more than $3.5 billion in back taxes as of Sept. 30, 2011.
— JUSTICE-CONSUMER PROTECTION — The Justice Department's consumer protection initiatives have recovered more than $5.89 billion since 2009 and have led to more than 140 criminal convictions and prison sentences of more than 327 years.
— WHOLESALE INVENTORIES — U.S. wholesalers boosted their stockpiles in January by the largest amount in 13 months even though their sales dropped sharply.
— OIL PRICES — The price of oil falls slightly, as a strong U.S. jobs report was offset by gains in the dollar.
SALT LAKE CITY — She doesn't wear a cowboy hat favored by traditional picks for Secretary of the Interior. Sally Jewell prefers fleece and Gore-Tex jackets and wears a safety helmet when she needs it for scaling cliffs, skiing or kayaking. Jewell represents a new face for the cabinet post more often associated with ranching or oil, gas and mining development. The nomination of a mountain-climbing CEO underscores the growing power and influence of outdoor recreation as an economic and political force. By Paul Foy and Nicholas Riccardi.
GULF OIL SPILL-SETTLEMENT
NEW ORLEANS — BP is warning investors that the price tag will be "significantly higher" than it initially estimated for its multibillion-dollar settlement with businesses and residents who claim the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico cost them money. By Michael Kunzelman.
NEW YORK — McDonald's new Fish McBites failed to hook enough diners to get the fast-food chain's U.S. sales growing in February. The world's biggest hamburger chain says a key sales figure was down 3.3 percent in the U.S. for February. The struggle to grow at home reflects the mounting pressures on McDonald's, which had managed to pull away from its rivals and thrive even during the Great Recession. By Food Industry Writer Candice Choi.
KNIVES ON PLANES
WASHINGTON — Flight attendants, pilots, federal air marshals and even insurance companies are part of a growing backlash to the Transportation Security Administration's new policy allowing passengers to carry small knives and sports equipment like souvenir baseball bats and golf clubs onto planes. By Joan Lowy.
— JC PENNEY-JOB CUTS — J.C. Penney Co. confirms it's eliminating an additional 2,200 jobs as the struggling department store chain aims to slash more costs after a year of plunging sales and mounting losses.
— WAL-MART-PERSONNEL — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says Leslie Dach, who has played a pivotal role in reinventing the image of the world's largest retailer in the face of mounting attacks by labor groups, is leaving the company in June.
— HIP REPLACEMENT SUIT — A jury in Los Angeles awards more than $8 million to a man who accused Johnson & Johnson's DePuy Orthopaedics subsidiary of knowingly marketing a faulty hip implant that was later recalled.
— WHOLE FOODS-GMO — Whole Foods says all products in its North American stores will have labels disclosing whether they contain genetically modified ingredients by 2018.
— KOHLBERG-GARDNER DENVER — The industrial pump maker Gardner Denver has agreed to sell itself to investment firm KKR for about $3.73 billion.
— DENMARK-RESTAURANT WOES — Danish food safety officials ordered a cleanup and better food handling at Noma, one of the world's top restaurants, after more than 60 people fell ill with viral gastroenteritis from eating at the two-star Michelin eatery that has also hit top spot three times in the world's best restaurants list in Restaurant magazine.
— GERMANY-THYSSENKRUPP — Gerhard Cromme, chairman of ThyssenKrupp steel and elevator company, to step down.
— BEECHCRAFT-CONTRACT — Airplane maker Beechcraft will formally protest an Air Force decision to award a high-stakes contract worth more than $427 million to a competitor.
TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:
SAN FRANCISCO — Google will pay a $7 million penalty to settle a multistate investigation into the Internet search leader's collection of emails, passwords and other sensitive information sent over wireless networks in neighborhoods throughout the country several years ago, according to a person familiar with the matter. By Technology Writer Michael Liedtke.
— HEWLETT-PACKARD-SHAREHOLDER REVOLT — A group of New York City pension funds is opposing the re-election of the two longest-serving members of Hewlett-Packard's board of directors for their involvement in a series of costly decisions.
— NEWS CORP-SPIN OFF — News Corp. says that it will spin off its publishing division with $2.56 billion in cash and no debt, giving it the means to invest in digital operations and acquire businesses.
— GOOGLE-MOTOROLA-JOB CUTS — Google says it's cutting an additional 1,200 jobs in its Motorola division as the unprofitable cellphone maker struggles to compete.
— BRITAIN-PHONE HACKING — A former police officer and a prison officer have admitted selling information to a British tabloid belonging to Rupert Murdoch, pleading guilty Friday to misconduct in a public office.
MILAN — Fitch Ratings Agency downgrades Italy's credit rating to BBB+ from A- with a warning of a further downgrade, citing the uncertainty created by February's inconclusive elections.
HONG KONG — China's exports surged more than expected last month in a possible sign of stronger global demand. By Business Writer Kelvin Chan.
— CHINA-CURRENCY WARS — China calls on other major governments to avoid suppressing the value of their currencies to boost exports, warning that could hurt global growth.
TOKYO — Japan's economy did better than first thought in the last quarter of 2012, eking out a slight expansion instead of shrinking. That suggests the world's No. 3 economy is emerging from recession. By Business Writer Elaine Kurtenbach.
PARIS — French President Francois Hollande wants more dads to stay home with their babies and more moms to get back to work faster. On International Women's Day, Hollande, a never-married father of four, proposes legislation to encourage more men to take long-term paternity leave. By Sylvie Corbet and Angela Charlton.
— GERMANY-ECONOMY — Industrial production in Germany was flat in January, falling short of expectations for a small increase.
— HONG KONG-CORRUPTION CASE — Hong Kong's billionaire Kwok brothers pleaded not guilty to graft charges, setting the stage for the city's biggest corruption trial in years. AP photos
— GERMANY-BERLIN AIRPORT — Former Deutsche Bahn CEO taking over as head of the Berlin airports amid massive delays in opening the capital's new hub.
— BELGIUM-BORDER BLOCKADE — Hundreds of Belgian steel workers are blocking a busy border crossing between Belgium and the Netherlands to protest against planned job cuts by ArcelorMittal.
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Farewell, "lost decade"
The Dow Jones industrial average has set a string of record highs and investors aren't inclined to look back, especially since the 2000s weren't kind. But the 10-year track record of stock mutual funds is starting to look a lot better now that the dot-com downturn years of 2000, 2001 and 2002 have rolled out of the 10-year window.
American Eagle plunges
It's been a tough week for American Eagle Outfitters. Investors fled after the teen retailer reported disappointing earnings and offered weak guidance for the first quarter.