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Stock market back where it started

NEW YORK (AP) — A new month of trading begins today on Wall Street.

A strong February wiped out the S&P 500's January loss. The index rose 4.3 percent during the month. It was helped by strong corporate earnings and a Federal Reserve that seems to have Wall Street's back at every turn. But the market rise in February must be taken in the context that investors spent the month making up the ground they lost in January.

Investors are also now staring at a stock market, that numbers-wise is basically where it was on Jan. 1, but a lot more defensive than it was two months ago.

On Friday, the S&P 500 rose five points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,859. It was the second all-time closing high for the S&P 500 in a row. The S&P 500 is now up 0.6 percent for the year.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 49 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 16,321.

Weakness in technology stocks, however, held back the Nasdaq composite. It lost 11 points, or 0.3 percent, closing at 4,308.


Asian stocks tumble as Ukraine tensions intensify

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stocks tumbled today as tensions over Russia's military advance into Ukraine and the impact of possible sanctions by Western governments intensified.

Traders are jittery over warnings by Washington and other governments that Moscow, an oil exporter, might face sanctions after it seized control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

Most Asian economies depend on imported oil and gas, making them sensitive to any turmoil that might disrupt supplies.

Monday's losses were a reverse from last week's gains in many global markets.

Benchmark crude oil shot up more than a dollar to float near $104 per barrel.

The dollar gained against the yen and fell against the euro.


Business and economics reports due out today

WASHINGTON — The Commerce Department is scheduled to release two reports today. One covers personal income and spending for January; the other involves construction spending for January.

Also today, the Institute for Supply Management will release its manufacturing index for February.

Investors today will see how the automobile market is faring when automakers report vehicle sales for February.


G-7 nations suspend planning for Russia summit

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. and six other nations say they are suspending participation in the planning for an international summit in Russia this summer.

The White House issued the joint statement on behalf of the Group of Seven. That's the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom. The nations also participate in the Group of Eight economic group, which includes Russia.

In the joint statement, the countries say they condemn Russia's "clear violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine." They say Russia's advances in Ukraine violate the "principles and values" on which the G-7 and G-8 operate.

Russia is scheduled to host the G-8 summit in June in Sochi, site of the recently completed Winter Olympics.


Survey: China manufacturing weakened in February

BEIJING (AP) — A survey shows Chinese manufacturing weakened in February and employers cut staff at their fastest rate in nearly five years.

HSBC Corp. said Monday its monthly purchasing managers index stood at 48.5 on a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 show activity contracting. That was down from January's 49.5.

The data add to signs China's economy might be weakening as communist leaders try to reduce reliance on trade and investment and encourage self-sustaining growth based on domestic consumption.

"This calls for policy fine-tuning measures to stabilize market expectations and steady the pace of growth," said HSBC economist Hongbin Qu in a statement.

Fewer new orders led manufacturers to cut staff for a fourth month in the fastest reduction since March 2009.


Obama to push minimum wage Wednesday in Conn.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is showing no signs of letting up on his push for a higher federal minimum wage.

Officials say he plans an appearance Wednesday in Connecticut with Northeastern governors who back his push to raise the federal hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. The governors also will back higher minimum wages for their states.

The White House believes momentum is building and wants to keep up the pressure on Congress to act.

While Democrats support the president and say hard-working people shouldn't earn poverty-level wages, Republicans say a higher minimum wage will lead to job cuts.

Obama was appearing in the Hartford area with Democratic Govs. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and Peter Shumlin of Vermont, and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent.


Berkshire Hathaway's 4Q profit up 10 percent

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Warren Buffett's company says fourth-quarter earnings rose 10 percent to nearly $5 billion as its insurance, rail and energy businesses generated major profit gains.

Berkshire Hathaway's insurance companies, which include Geico and General Reinsurance, reported a $394 million operating profit for the final quarter of 2013, compared with a $19 million loss a year earlier. The Omaha, Neb., company also benefited from a surge in pretax earnings at its "Powerhouse Five," a group of non-insurance companies that include Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad and electric utility MidAmerican Energy.

Net income rose to $4.99 billion on revenue of $47.05 billion from $4.55 billion on revenue of $44.72 billion in 2012. Operating earnings, which exclude investments and derivatives, grew to $3.78 billion, or $2,297 per Class A share.

The three analysts surveyed by FactSet expected operating earnings of $2,495.42 per Class A share.


Cummins recalling 25,013 engines over fire risk

NEW YORK (AP) — Engine maker Cummins Inc. and its joint venture Cummins Westport Inc. are recalling 25,013 engines because cold weather could cause a sensor to fail, resulting in an exhaust fire.

No injuries have been reported but Cummins Westport has received two reports of flames coming from vehicle exhaust pipes.

The engines can be found in a variety of commercial vehicles including school and transit buses as well as fire trucks. Among the companies to which Cummins shipped the engines is school bus manufacturer Blue Bird Corp.

The recall affects Cummins Westport Model ISL G engines made between Sept. 12, 2007 through Feb. 2, 2014 and Cummins Westport Model ISX12 G engines made from Feb. 19, 2013 through Feb. 2, 2014.


Pipeline protesters arrested at White House

WASHINGTON (AP) — Police arrested hundreds of people who strapped themselves to the White House fence on Sunday to protest the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The protesters were mostly college students who participated in a peaceful march that began at Georgetown University and ended outside the White House. They chanted "climate justice now" and carried signs with slogans such as "don't tarnish the earth" in an effort to persuade President Barack Obama to reject the pipeline. They say it will worsen global warming.

Protesters were passionate but quite orderly. Police were waiting for them with buses and vans to speed the process. Protesters cheered as U.S. Park Police warned them that blocking the sidewalk or strapping themselves to the fence would lead to their arrest. In all, 372 were arrested, police said.


Disney ends funding to Boy Scouts over gay policy

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Walt Disney Company will cut funding to the Boy Scouts of America beginning in 2015 because of a policy that bans gay adult leaders in the organization.

Deron Smith, a Boy Scouts spokesman, said in a statement Sunday that the decision will affect the organization's ability to serve children.

Disney does not provide direct funding to the Boy Scouts, but it donates money to some troops in exchange for volunteer hours completed by Disney employees.

Smith says the program has provided small grants to local Scout troops and packs.

David Jefferson, chief spokesman for The Walt Disney Company, did not respond to calls or emails.

The Boy Scouts lifted a ban on gay youth last year, but a ban on gay adult leaders remains.


NY, Conn. up heat help in food stamp cut end-run

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut and New York are boosting spending in federal heating assistance to preserve far greater food stamp money in an end-run around federal budget cuts central to a massive farm bill.

Social service advocates are cheered by the decisions by Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The governors say spending a few million on heating assistance will preserve more than a half-billion food stamp assistance.

But a conservative think tank says the two governors are undermining the intent of the farm bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama.

Heritage Foundation policy analyst Rachel Sheffield says 95 percent of food stamp funding is from Washington and "states don't have a concern about increased food stamp costs."


Proposed cuts pack big impact for Wisconsin city

WASHINGTON (AP) — To see the impact of strategic military decisions on local communities, look no further than Marinette, Wis.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's vision for leaner, more versatile military targeted the littoral combat ship, the marquee product of the city's biggest employer. That could mean lost jobs in Marinette, a city of roughly 11,000.

Marinette Mayor Denise Ruleau says the threat of cuts has been hanging out there. She says her community is aware of what it has — two 10 ship contracts — and that they are certain to provide another five years' worth of work.

Hagel's proposal would cancel 20 of a planned 52 ship orders. Marinette's biggest employer is Marinette Marine, which builds the littoral combat ships.

About 2,000 jobs in Marinette are directly linked with the ship program.


'Non-Stop' lands at No. 1 at weekend box office

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Liam Neeson has grounded the "The Lego Movie."

The action star's airliner thriller "Non-Stop" arrived in first place at the weekend box office, ending the Warner Bros. animated film's three-week blockade at the top spot. The Universal Pictures film stars Neeson as a federal air marshal on a doomed flight. "Non-Stop" opened with $30 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Fox's "Son of God" debuted closely behind "Non-Stop" in second place with $26.5 million. The film recounts the story of Jesus' life using footage shot during production of the History Channel's 10-part miniseries "The Bible."

"The Lego Movie," which features the voices of Chris Pratt and Elizabeth Banks as characters from the blocky toy franchise, came in third place with $21 million, bringing its total domestic haul to $209.3 million.

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