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Ukraine tensions send stocks tumbling...Consumer spend more in January...Auto sales off

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NEW YORK (AP) — Tensions over Russia's military advance into Ukraine and the threat of sanctions by Western governments have sent global stock markets down sharply. The Dow plunged nearly 175 points in morning trading. The S&P has been about 15 points lower, while the Nasdaq composite was off as much as 50 points. Oil prices are up about $2 per barrel.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Harsh weather doesn't appear to have crimped consumer spending in January. The Commerce Department says that spending rose 0.4 percent. However, the department also revised its December figure downward, to a tiny 0.1 percent. As for income, that grew 0.3 percent in January following a flat December.

DETROIT (AP) — Frigid temperatures and snowstorms in much of the country have hurt auto sales. General Motors and Ford reported sales declines last month. Ford's U.S. sales were down 6 percent, while GM's were off 1 percent. However, the country's top two automakers both said sales began to recover in the second half of February. Meanwhile, Chrysler and Nissan reported double-digit sales gains for the month.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturing activity expanded more quickly last month. The Institute for Supply Management says its manufacturing index rose to 53.2 in February as companies received more orders and boosted their stockpiles. However, the increase only partly reversed a five-point drop in January from December.

NEW YORK (AP) — Men's Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank Clothiers are moving a bit closer to a possible combination. The two companies say they are exchanging certain confidential information. The news comes four days after Jos. A. Bank rejected the latest acquisition bid from Men's Wearhouse. Men's Wearhouse had boosted its offer to $63.50 per share and said it could go to $65, if some conditions are met.

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