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WALL STREET

Stocks slide as tensions build in Ukraine; Gold, bond prices rise as traders seek safety

NEW YORK (AP) — Russia's military advance into Ukraine has been rattling global markets, sending investors to safer assets.

The S&P 500 had its biggest drop in a month on Monday, following markets in Europe and Asia lower, as Russia's military tightened its grip on the Crimea region of Ukraine. President Barack Obama says Moscow will find its intervention costly and the European Union has been discussing economic sanctions, and that's stoking fears of a tit-for-tat campaign of sanctions between Russia and the West.

The S&P 500 index fell 13.72 points to 1,845.73, the biggest drop since Feb. 3. The index was down as much as 25 points at one point before recouping some of the ground it lost.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 153.68 points to 16,168.03. The Nasdaq composite fell 30.82 points to 4,277.30.

Meanwhile, gold and bond prices rose and the price of crude oil jumped more than $2 as traders feared Russian exports could be affected.

WORLD MARKETS

Asian stocks muted on Ukraine crisis

MUMBAI, India (AP) — Asian stock markets were subdued Tuesday after investors around the world took fright at how the crisis in Ukraine might escalate.

Analysts say Asian investors are in a wait and see mode until there's a more clarity on the Ukraine-Russia situation.

Developments in Ukraine have dominated the start of what is likely to be a busy week on the economic news front. As well as a raft of U.S. economic data that culminates with Friday's nonfarm payrolls figures for February, investors have the monthly policy meeting from the European Central Bank to monitor.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell back toward $104.50 a barrel.

The dollar gained against the yen and inched up against the euro.

WINTER WEATHER WINNERS

Cold weather heats up sales for some companies

NEW YORK (AP) — For some businesses -- like the car dealers who've seen sales slump in January and February -- the harsh winter has been rough.

But for others, the frigid weather means more cold, hard cash.

Ace Hardware is having its best winter in more than a decade for snow blower and shovel sales. Waterproof boots are on a long backorder at L.L. Bean.

And with more Americans stuck indoors, customers are ordering up more meals and arranging to have their laundry picked up through the website and smartphone app of Delivery.com. Sales at the company, which operates in major metro areas, rose 30 percent in January and February from the year before.

When people do venture out into the cold, they stock up on products that protect against frigid temperatures. Carmex, which is known for its yellow jars of lip balm, says its sales are up 9 percent over the past eight to ten weeks from the same period a year ago.

Pawz Dog Boots, which makes colorful rubber booties that safeguard paws from salt and snow, says its sales in North America have more than doubled.

AUTO SALES

March will be test of US auto demand

DETROIT (AP) — As the spring thaw nears, automakers hope that applies to March sales too.

Sales have been slower than expected so far this year and this month's results could tell automakers whether the slowdown was due to historic cold temperatures and snowfall — as many believe — or if there are deeper reasons for sagging demand.

Automakers entered 2014 expecting to sell more than 16 million cars and trucks for the first time since the recession. But so far, sales are on pace to hit around 15 million, which would be 600,000 less than last year.

General Motors, Ford and Toyota all reported U.S. sales declines for February. The country's top three automakers by sales said the month started slowly but sales began to recover in the second half. If that momentum continues into March, fears of a broader sales slowdown may prove to be unfounded.

Industry analysts expect overall sales to rise about 1 percent for March, a slow pace compared with the 8 percent increase for all of last year.

Chrysler and Nissan were able to notch double-digit gains, but discounted some key models to get there.

GOVERNMENT LAWSUIT-SPRINT WIRETAPS

US sues Sprint over company's wiretap expenses

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Federal officials have filed a lawsuit alleging that Sprint Communications overbilled government agencies $21 million for wiretap services.

The lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in San Francisco alleges that that the Sprint Corp. subsidiary collected unallowable expenses from the FBI and other government agencies while carrying out court-ordered wiretaps and other electronic intercepts of its customers.

Communication companies are allowed to recoup the cost of installing and maintaining wiretaps when courts order them to intercept customers' communications.

The Department of Justice claims in its lawsuit that Sprint also sought and received reimbursement for modifying its equipment and facilities to more efficiently intercept electronics communications. In 2006, the Federal Communications Commission prohibited carriers from passing on those expenses to the government.

A Sprint spokesman says the company denies the allegations.

COAL ASH SPILL-NC-VIOLATIONS

NC cites 5 Duke Energy plants for lacking storm water permits

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina regulators have cited five more Duke Energy power plants for lacking required storm water permits after a pipe collapse at one of the company's coal ash dumps caused a massive spill, coating 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic sludge.

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources says Charlotte-based Duke had been issued formal notices of violation for not having the needed permits, which are required to legally discharge rainwater draining from its plants into public waterways.

Two additional violations were issued Friday against the Dan River Steam Station, site of the Feb. 2 spill. State regulators indicated they had been aware since at least 2010 that some Duke facilities lacked the required storm water permits, yet took no enforcement action until after last month's disaster.

Duke has declined to comment.

APPLE-CARPLAY

Apple's iPhone becoming more compatible with cars

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple is teaming up with major car makers to make iPhone applications easier for drivers to use while they're on the road.

The system enables iPhones to plug into cars so drivers will be able to call up maps, make calls and request music with voice commands or a touch on a vehicle's dashboard screen.

Apple is calling the technology, "CarPlay." That's a change from its original name, "iOS in the Car," given last June when Apple announced its plans to make its mobile operating system more compatible with automobiles.

Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo are previewing CarPlay this week at an auto show in Geneva. Other auto makers plan to adopt CarPlay, too.

CarPlay requires Apple's latest software, iOS 7, and an iPhone 5, 5C or 5S.

DISNEY-DISH

Dish, Disney deal envisions Internet-delivered TV

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Dish Network and Disney have reached a landmark deal that envisions the day when Dish can send subscribers a range of TV programming over the Internet without the need for a satellite receiver on the roof.

The deal Monday paves the way for Dish to offer live local broadcasts from ABC TV stations and programming from ABC Family, Disney Channel, ESPN and ESPN2 over mobile devices, set-top boxes and other means, similar to how Netflix's video streams are delivered today.

No start date for such a service has been announced.

In exchange, Dish Network Corp. would disable for three days a function on its Hopper digital video recorders that allows people to automatically record and strip out commercials from prime-time weeknight programming. But that's only for programs on ABC, which is owned by The Walt Disney Co.

FALSE ALARM FINE

False alarm 'Olympus' movie ad draws $1.9M fine

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It turns out that using emergency warning tones in a TV commercial with images of the White House blowing up and the flashing words "THIS IS NOT A TEST" is frowned upon by the government.

The Federal Communications Commission says it's fining three media giants $1.9 million for using the official warning tones in an ad for the movie "Olympus Has Fallen" that had some complainants jumping out of bathtubs and racing to the TV screen.

The companies have 30 days to contest the fines or pay up.

The ad aired 108 times on Viacom Inc. networks such as BET and Comedy Central, 38 times on NBCUniversal channels like USA and SyFy and 13 times on The Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN in March 2013.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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