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SAN JOSE, Calif. — Arwin Buditom guards some of the most successful high-tech firms in America. Joseph Farfan keeps their heat, air and electric systems humming. But these workers and tens of thousands like them who help fuel the Silicon Valley's tech boom can't even make ends meet anymore. Buditom rooms with his sister an hour's drive from work. Farfan gets his groceries at a food pantry. Silicon Valley is entering a fifth year of unfettered growth, but the river of money flowing through America's technology mecca has also driven housing costs to double while wages for low- and middle-skilled workers remain stagnant. Now the widening gap in lifestyle between the wealthy and those left behind is sparking protests and raw anger. By Martha Mendoza. SENT: 1,700 words, photos, video.


WASHINGTON —The U.S. economy has been skating on an icy patch heading into the February jobs report being released Friday. Hiring skidded in January and December to roughly half its average monthly pace for 2013 and 2012. Auto buying, existing-home sales and factory orders have sagged as key areas of the economy have surrendered to a harsh winter. And the economy entered 2014 with less momentum than initially thought. Here are five vital signs that help capture the state of the job market. By Josh Boak. Incorporates BC-US--Unemployment Benefits. UPCOMING: 900 words by 3:30 p.m.


NEW YORK —The departure of Target's chief information officer in the wake of the company's massive pre-Christmas data breach highlights the increased pressure facing executives who are tasked with protecting corporate computer systems from hackers whose attacks are on the rise and becoming more sophisticated. CIOs from companies in all walks of business —from retail to banking and drug discovery— are using the Target breach as a rallying point to call attention to their struggle and garner additional funds and manpower to fight digital threats. By Bree Fowler. SENT: 1,030 words, photos.


PINGSHAN COUNTY, China — Huge chunks of concrete and broken machinery are all that is left of a cement plant that once spewed clouds of pollution over China's most polluted province, Hebei. Demolished in December, the factory was one of 35 closed or torn down in Pingshan county as part of the government's drive to clear up China's notoriously smoggy skies. By Louise Watt. SENT: 890 words, photos.


OLYMPIA, Wash. — His company's name celebrates being too stoned to get off the couch, and he hopes to bring an ultra-potent "super joint" to market. Meet Sean Green, chief executive of Kouchlock Productions and the proud owner of Washington state's first legal-marijuana business license. By Gene Johnson. SENT: 930 words, photo, video.



WASHINGTON — A surging stock market and rebounding home prices boosted Americans' wealth to a record in the final three months of last year, though both trends have slowed so far in 2014. By Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 340 words.


WASHINGTON — U.S. productivity grew at an even slower annual rate than previously thought in the final three months of last year. The Labor Department says productivity grew at an annual rate of 1.8 percent in the October-December quarter, a slowdown from 3.5 percent productivity growth in the third quarter. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 540 words, photo.


WASHINGTON — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell after three weeks of rises, edging closer to historically low levels. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate for the 30-year loan declined to 4.28 percent from 4.37 percent last week. By Marcy Gordon. SENT: 120 words. UPCOMING: Will be led.


WASHINGTON — When President Barack Obama's choice to head an agency that oversees some of the riskiest corners of the financial world faces senators Thursday, one question could dominate: Will he be as aggressive as his predecessor in holding big Wall Street banks to stricter standards? The nominee, Timothy Massad, has been tapped to be the next chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates futures and options markets. By Marcy Gordon. SENT: 840 words. UPCOMING: Will be updated from hearing.




WASHINGTON — Orders to U.S. factories fall in January for a second straight month but a key category that signals business investment plans rebounds. That could be an indication that businesses are becoming more confident. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 500 words, photo.


NEW YORK —Stocks move higher in midday trading after the government reported that the number of people filing for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in three months. By Ken Sweet. SENT: 430 words, photo. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m.

— OIL PRICES —The price of oil falls below $101 a barrel as U.S. stockpiles of crude increase and concern about Ukraine eases. SENT: 330 words. UPCOMING: 350 words by 3:30 p.m.



CINCINNATI — Procter & Gamble Co. tightens security at its Cincinnati headquarters after a breach that allowed an eye-catching protest by Greenpeace activists this week, a spokeswoman says. By Dan Sewell. SENT: 420 words, photos, audio, video.


FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — Staples will close 225 stores in North America by the end of next year as part of a plan to save about $500 million annually by 2015. The Framingham, Mass., office-supply retailer says nearly half of its sales are now generated online, so it will aggressively cut costs to become more efficient. By Tom Murphy. SENT: 520 words, photos.


NEW YORK — Three former leaders of a once-potent New York law firm are facing fraud charges stemming from its collapse. Dewey & LeBouef was the nation's biggest law firm bankruptcy. It once employed 3,000 people worldwide. By Jennifer Peltz. UPCOMING: 350 words by 2 p.m.


NEW YORK — The Federal Trade Commission says ADT Corp. has settled charges that it deceived consumers by paying people to recommend its home security products in media outlets without disclosing their connection to the company. SENT: 140 words. UPCOMING: Will be led.


NEW YORK — A few weeks after her foray into the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, Barbie is entangled in controversy again, this time over her ties with the Girl Scouts. By David Crary. SENT: 620 words, photo.


WASHINGTON —The Republican-controlled House moves to block President Barack Obama's plan to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, an election-year strike at the White House aimed at portraying Obama as a job killer. Ten coal-state or Southern Democrats joined with Republicans to approve the bill, 229-183. Supporters said the measure was part of a strategy to fight back against what they call the Obama administration's "war on coal." By Matthew Daly. SENT: 680 words, photo.


LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas and Phoenix are linked by a road that narrows to two lanes, hits stoplights in a Depression-era town and until recently backed up traffic over the Hoover Dam. Despite being two of the largest cities in the Southwest, they aren't directly connected by an interstate freeway. An effort to improve what's now a 4 ½-hour drive with a more reliable road has heavy-hitting allies, including business leaders and the Republican governor of each state. By Michelle Rindels. SENT: 1,140 words, photos.

— COAL ASH SPILL-NORTH CAROLINA — A North Carolina judge says Duke Energy must take immediate action to eliminate the source of groundwater pollution at its coal ash dumps. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: Will be led.

— KENTUCKY BRIDGE COLLAPSE-LAWSUIT — Kentucky transportation officials are suing the crew of a cargo ship that struck and collapsed part of a bridge, causing millions in damage and diverting traffic for four months. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: Will be led.

— OIL TRAINS-EMERGENCY ORDER — Federal regulators are further tightening testing requirements for companies that transport oil by rail after a spate of explosions caused by crude train derailments in the U.S. and Canada. SENT: 140 words, photo.

— AUSTRALIA-QANTAS — The Australian government took a step toward relaxing foreign ownership restrictions on Qantas Airways by passing legislation through parliament's lower house. But the opposition Labor Party and Greens party plan to use their majority in the Senate to keep the national carrier in Australian ownership. SENT: 310 words.

— AMERICAN-EMERGENCY LANDING — An American Eagle jet flying from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to Illinois makes a safe emergency landing at a small North Texas airport amid reports of smoke in the cabin. SENT: 130 words.



NEW YORK —Kroger says its ability to keep its supermarkets open and well-stocked as customers rushed to hoard groceries ahead of winter storms helped boost its results in the fourth quarter. By Candice Choi. SENT: 480 words, photo.

— EARNS-H&R BLOCK — H&R Block reports quarterly financial results after the market closes. UPCOMING: 130 words after release upon market close, 400 words by 6 p.m.

— GERMANY EARNS-DEUTSCHE TELECOM — Telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom AG reports fourth-quarter and full-year earnings. UPCOMING.



PARIS — French conglomerate Bouygues is offering 10.5 billion euros ($14.4 billion) for control of mobile operator SFR telecommunications, entering a bidding war for the Vivendi unit. Bouygues said Thursday its offer to combine SFR with Bouygues Telecom would create a new number one mobile operator in France, leapfrogging current market leader Orange. Vivendi has also received an offer for SFR from Altice, the owner of French cable operator Numericable. SENT: 440 words, photos.


SINGAPORE — The CEO of a virtual currency exchange was found dead in her home in Singapore. A police spokesman said initial investigations indicated there was no suspicion of "foul play," meaning officers do not suspect murder. By Satish Cheney. SENT: 210 words.

— GOOGLE BARGE — Google's mystery barge is floating toward its new home in California's delta after being ordered to leave San Francisco. SENT: 240 words.

— GAMES-SHAQ FU — Shaquille O'Neal says he's seeking redemption for "Shaq Fu." The infamous fighting game starring O'Neal is considered to be among the worst games ever made. The four-time NBA champion is launching a crowd-funding campaign to create a "Shaq Fu" follow-up called "Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn." SENT: 610 words, photos.



FRANKFURT, Germany — The European Central Bank keeps its interest rates unchanged and raises its growth forecasts as it acknowledged that the recovery is strengthening. After the decision to keep the key rate at a record low of 0.25 percent, ECB President Mario Draghi said the bank's latest projections foresee economic growth of 1.2 percent this year, up slightly from the 1.1 percent estimate made in December. By David McHugh. SENT: 630 words, photos.


— BRITAIN-ECONOMY — The Bank of England decides to keep its key interest rate at a record low in hopes of strengthening the economic recovery. Policymakers decided to leave the benchmark interest rate at 0.5 percent. SENT: 130 words.


BRUSSELS —The European Union suspends talks with Russia on a wide-ranging economic pact and on a visa deal, punishing Moscow for its military incursion into the Crimean Peninsula of neighboring Ukraine. EU leaders made the announcement at an emergency summit and threatened further sanctions if Russia does not quickly engage in talks to end the crisis. By Juergen Baetz. SENT: 330 words, photos.

— CHINA-ECONOMY-JOBS — China's finance minister said that creating jobs is the government's priority this year and economic growth below the official target of 7.5 percent might be acceptable. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 260 words, photos.

—GERMANY-ECONOMY — German factory orders rebounded more than expected in January, driven by demand from outside the 18 countries using the euro. The Federal Statistical Office says orders were up 1.2 percent over December. SENT: 140 words.

— GREECE-FINANCIAL CRISIS — Riot police use tear gas and pepper spray during scuffles with union members protesting austerity measures during a ban on demonstrations in parts of central Athens due to a visit by German President Joachim Gauck. Scuffles broke out when a group of several dozen demonstrators attempted to break through a police cordon on a major avenue in an effort to march to the Finance Ministry. SENT: 370 words, photos.

— ABU DHABI-AIRPORT —Dozens of flights to the United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi are diverted after a technical malfunction during heavy fog led authorities to stop accepting incoming planes, according to the airport and its main airline. SENT: 270 words.



Municipal bonds are getting another chance. Money is flowing into muni-bond mutual funds, a turnaround from last year's exodus. So far, investors have been rewarded, but managers caution that several challenges remain ahead. UPCOMING: 800 words by 6 p.m.

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A page-turner

Has the death of the hardbound book been greatly exaggerated? A look at shares of Barnes & Noble, which are up nearly 37 percent this year. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.


Kroger beats expectations

Shares of Kroger rose Thursday after supermarket operator reported a better than-expected-fourth quarter profit. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.


For the week ending Saturday, March 8, 2014


Fabulous five

Few bull markets celebrate a fifth anniversary: Just five have done it since World War II. Another is set to join their ranks next week. So what can investors expect from a bull market of such advanced age? Of those that made it to year five, only three lasted until year six. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.

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