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BC-Business News Digest



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TOP STORIES:

WALL STREET

NEW YORK — A crisis in Ukraine injects fear into global markets. Stocks from Moscow to New York fall sharply as Russian troops advance into Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. Oil surges, and gold and Treasurys rise as investors seek safety, uncertain which way the crisis will head. By Steve Rothwell. SENT: 400 words, photo. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m. Eds: Incorporates World Markets.

With:

— MARKETS-RUSSIAN STOCKS — Shares of Russian companies traded in the U.S. are plummeted Monday as the country's military forces streamed into Ukraine, raising the possibility of sanctions by Western governments. SENT: 330 words.

WINTER WEATHER WINNERS

NEW YORK — Harsh winter weather has been rough for some business, but for a lucky few, it has meant more hard, cold cash. Ace Hardware is having its best winter in more than a decade selling snow blowers and shovels. Waterproof boots are on backorder at clothing maker LL Bean. And more people are staying home and ordering gooey grilled cheese sandwiches and booze from online food delivery company Delivery.com. By Joseph Pisani and Anne D'Innocenzio. UPCOMING: 1,000 words by 3 p.m., photos planned.

— WINTER WEATHER-FLIGHT CANCELLATIONS — Airlines canceled more than 2,000 flights Monday as the latest winter storm hit the U.S. East Coast. SENT: 230 words.

AUTO SALES

DETROIT — March is shaping up as a crucial month for the U.S. auto industry. Sales were slower than expected In January and February, and the number of unsold cars on dealer lots grew. Automakers had to resort to juicy discounts to lure reluctant buyers. Industry executives and most analysts blame the historic cold temperatures and snowfall and expect sales to pick up as the temperatures rise. But a continuation of the trends seen in the winter could signal deeper reasons for sagging demand. By Auto Writers Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin. By Tom Krisher. SENT: 600 words. UPCOMING: Updates as reports come out, 800 words, photos by 4 p.m.

JAPAN-BITCOIN

TOKYO — The Tokyo bitcoin exchange that filed for bankruptcy protection blamed theft through hacking for its losses Monday, and said it was looking into a criminal complaint. In an announcement posted on the Mt. Gox exchange's website, CEO Mark Karpeles outlined the events that resulted in the company's insolvency and said there was a "high probability" theft was behind the disappearance of bitcoins. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 480 words, photos.

NSA SURVEILLANCE-TECH VS TELECOM

WASHINGTON —When Apple, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants united in outrage last summer over being used by the National Security Agency for unfettered spying, telecommunications giants like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint —whose customers are also secretly spied on by the government— remained noticeably mum. But now the phone companies are starting to speak up, at least in closed-door meetings with policymakers, rattling the historically tight bond between telecoms and government. By Marcy Gordon and Martha Mendoza. UPCOMING: 1,600 words by 12 p.m.

SUNKEN PIPELINE FEARS

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A freshwater channel that separates Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas is a premier Midwestern tourist attraction and a photographer's delight, offering spectacular vistas of two Great Lakes, several islands and one of the world's longest suspension bridges. But nowadays the Straits of Mackinac is drawing attention for something that is out of sight and usually out of mind, and which some consider a symbol of the dangers lurking in the nation's sprawling web of buried oil and natural gas pipelines. Stretched across the bottom of the waterway about 270 feet below the surface are two 20-inch pipes lying side by side that carry nearly 23 million gallons of crude oil daily. By John Flesher. SENT: 880 words, photos.

MARKETS & ECONOMY:

CONSUMER SPENDING

WASHINGTON — Americans spent more in January, but the increase came from a surge in spending on heating bills during the harsh winter. Spending in areas such as autos and clothing declined. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 710 words.

ECONOMY-MANUFACTURING

WASHINGTON — U.S. manufacturing expanded more quickly last month as companies received more orders and boosted their stockpiles. But a measure of production fell to its lowest level in nearly five years, likely a casualty of severe winter weather. By Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 470 words.

CONSTRUCTION SPENDING

WASHINGTON — U.S. construction spending showed a tiny increase in January as strength in housing helped to offset declines in nonresidential building and government projects.

Construction spending edged up 0.1 percent in January, significantly slower than an upwardly revised 1.5 percent gain in December, the Commerce Department reported Monday. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 430 words.

— OIL PRICES — Oil prices jumped nearly $2 a barrel Monday as Russia's military advance into Ukraine raised fears of economic sanctions against one of the world's major energy producers. Natural gas prices surged at the prospect of a decrease in global supplies. SENT: 450 words, photos.

— MIDWEST ECONOMY — A monthly economic survey index dropped slightly last month but still suggests growth over the next three to six months for nine Midwestern and Plains states, according to a survey report released Monday. SENT: 110 words. UPCOMING: 350 words.

AUTOS

GENEVA AUTO SHOW-WHAT TO EXPECT

GENEVA — European carmakers are putting their longest ever market slump in the rear view mirror, shifting from survival to revival as they head into the Geneva Auto Show with dozens of car premiers, particularly for small models packed with premium features. By Colleen Barry. SENT: 680 words, photos.

— AUTO SALES-GENERAL MOTORS — General Motors' U.S. sales fell 1 percent last month as winter storms pounded much of the nation. SENT: 120 words.

—AUTO SALES- FORD — Ford's U.S. sales dropped 6 percent in February as winter weather kept many buyers at home. SENT: 120 words.

INDUSTRY:

MEN'S WEARHOUSE-JOS A BANK

NEW YORK — Men's Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. are moving a bit closer to a possible combination, announcing they are exchanging certain confidential information with each other. Men's Wearhouse Inc. said Monday that it's also received a draft merger agreement from Jos. A. Bank. SENT: 390 words.

— FORBES BILLIONAIRES — After a four-year run at the top of the list, Carlos Slim is supplanted by Bill Gates as the world's richest person. SENT: 370 words, photos. With: FORBES-BILLIONAIRES-GLANCE.

— CAESARS-PROPERTY SALE — Caesars Entertainment is selling four properties to a separate unit that it controls for about $1.8 billion as it restructures its debt. SENT: 230 words.

— TYCO-SALE — Fire protection and security company Tyco is selling its South Korean security business to asset manager The Carlyle Group for about $1.93 billion. SENT: 260 words.

— BUFFETT-ECONOMY — Investor Warren Buffett says the economy continues the steady improvement that began in fall of 2009 and he remains optimistic despite Russia's advance into Ukraine. SENT: 580 words. Eds: Incorporates Buffett-Oil Trains and Buffett-Disasters.

— UIL HOLDINGS-ACQUISITION — UIL Holdings says it will expand its natural gas business by spending $1.86 billion in cash to buy the operations of Philadelphia Gas Works, which serves about 500,000 customers. SENT: 130 words.

— ABU DHABI-EARNS-ETIHAD — Gulf-based carrier Etihad Airways has posted its largest annual profit yet with $62 million in net earnings last year. SENT: 130 words.

— CITIGROUP-SUBPOENA —Citigroup and affiliate Banamex USA have disclosed grand jury subpoenas concerning compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering requirements under federal laws and banking regulations. SENT: 220 words.

INTERNATIONAL:

CHINA-MANUFACTURING

BEIJING — China's manufacturing weakened in February and employers cut staff at the fastest rate in nearly five years, adding to signs growth in the world's second-largest economy is cooling. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 290 words.

AUSTRALIA-QANTAS

CANBERRA, Australia — The Australian government decided to relax foreign ownership restrictions on Qantas Airways after the national carrier posted a record half-year loss. Rod McGuirk. SENT: 350 words.

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COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

Winter hurts GM and Ford sales

It was a tough February for General Motors and Ford as winter storms hit much of the nation. The country's top two automakers noted that weather had an impact but said sales started to thaw toward the end of the month. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.

CENTERPIECE

Five-year bull run

The fifth anniversary of the stock market bottom on March 9, 2009 is fast approaching. That means the darkest days of the financial crisis will soon be completely removed from the five-year returns of stock mutual funds -- a commonly scrutinized metric for potential investors. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.

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