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WASHINGTON — Brutal weather snarled traffic, canceled flights and cut power to homes and factories in February. Yet it didn't faze U.S. employers, who added 175,000 jobs, far more than the two previous months. Steady job growth has become a byproduct of a nearly 5-year-old economic rebound that remains sluggish yet strikingly resilient. Though a long-hoped-for acceleration in growth and hiring has yet to occur, that could prove a virtue: Households have pared debt and avoided the spending excesses that derailed explosive economies of the past. And having endured harsh weather, the economy might be poised to pick up in coming months. Christopher S. Rugaber and Josh Boak. SENT: 725 words. UPCOMING: 850 words by 3:30 p.m.
LOS ANGELES —After the hunt to find the elusive creator of bitcoin evaporated Thursday in a vehement denial, debate is now raging over whether it really matters who first dreamed up the idea for the popular digital currency. Bitcoin has taken on a life of its own since its inception in 2009, some argue. It's a form of money that doesn't need a "face." Others in the bitcoin community say they need to know the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. "He is like (Thomas) Jefferson to us," they say. By Ryan Nakashima and Bree Fowler. UPCOMING: 900 words by 4 p.m.
— NEWSWEEK-BITCOIN — Newsweek staked its return to print on a splashy reveal of the man they claim is "the face behind Bitcoin." Trouble is, the man himself denies any involvement with the digital currency. Newsweek stands by its story, but it remains to be seen whether the media attention will help or hurt its credibility. By Dave Bauder. UPCOMING: 500 words by xx pm., photos.
UKRAINE-OLIGARCHS TO THE RESCUE
KIEV, Ukraine — In a surprising move after Russia flexed its military might in the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine's new leadership has reached out to oligarchs for help — appointing them as governors in eastern regions where loyalties to Moscow are strong. With their wealth, influence and self-interest in preventing further conflict, the oligarchs could be the key to calming tensions and maintaining Ukraine's control in areas where pro-Russian activists have stoked separatist tensions. By Maria Danilova. SENT: 1,070 words, photos.
— UKRAINE-SANCTIONS — Underlying talk about taking harsh punitive measures against Russia for its military incursion into Ukraine are economic complications and worries that sanctions levied against Moscow could backfire on the U.S. and Europe. Heavier U.S. and European Union sanctions could sting Russia's already slow-growing economy and hurt its financial sector. By Deb Riechmann. SENT: 1,030 words, photo.
DENVER — Frustrated and angry, more than 100 cabbies pulled up outside the Colorado Statehouse early this legislative session to protest tech startups known as ridesharing services. The taxi drivers say the emerging firms, which allow passengers to hail rides with the swipe of a smartphone, are avoiding costly requirements that they and other commercial drivers are forced to follow. By Ivan Moreno and Ray Henry. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.
CAIRO — In Egypt's newest reality television show, contestants sold fruit juice from push carts in Cairo's busiest market and later organized a desert safari for tourists, hustling to make sales in the capital's crowded streets. The program, called "The Project" in Arabic, highlights entrepreneurship and small business acumen — something experts say is more crucial than ever as Egypt tries to claw its way out of tough economic times. By Maggie Hyde. SENT: 750 words, photos.
MARKETS & ECONOMY:
NEW YORK — Stocks are drifting mostly lower in midday trading as tensions build in Ukraine, where the region of Crimea is preparing for a referendum on whether to split away and become part of Russia. By Ken Sweet. SENT: 230 words. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m.
WASHINGTON —The U.S. trade deficit widens slightly in January as a rise in imports of oil and other foreign goods offset a solid increase in exports. The Commerce Department says the trade deficit increased to $39.1 billion, up 0.3 percent from December's revised $39 billion deficit. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 550 words, photo.
WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve reports on consumer borrowing in January. In December, consumers boosted their borrowing by the most in 10 months as demand for auto, student and credit card loans showed gains. The category that includes auto and student loans increased the most. By Martin Crutsinger. UPCOMING: 130 words after release of report at 3 p.m., 350 words by 3:45 p.m.
BEIJING — Chinese authorities allow the country's first corporate bond default, inflicting losses on small investors in a painful step toward making its financial system more market-oriented. Investors in bonds sold in 2012 by a manufacturer of solar panels were paid as little as 3 percent of the interest that was due Friday, according to two bondholders, one of whom said he put his parents' savings into the bonds. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 790 words.
LONDON — The euro strikes its highest level against the dollar for nearly two and a half years in the wake of the European Central Bank's decision not to cut interest rates further. Up 0.3 percent at $1.3917, the currency for the 18-country eurozone hit its highest rate since it touched $1.4170 in October 2011. SENT: 410 words, photo.
— OIL PRICES — The price of oil creeps up to near $102 a barrel as expectations rose for a solid increase in U.S. employment. SENT: 370 words.
BOBTOWN, Pa. — Critics are raging after an energy giant offered pizza coupons to a community near a natural gas well that exploded last month, killing a worker. News stories, TV shows and blogs — many sarcastic or outright scornful — spread the word far and wide. But the 750 or so residents of the hamlet of Bobtown? Not one has signed an online petition demanding an apology for the pizza offer. By Kevin Begos. SENT: 900 words, photos.
MANILA, Philippines — Japan's second largest automaker, Nissan, says it remains optimistic about Southeast Asia's auto market despite political turmoil in Thailand, one of the region's key car manufacturers. By Oliver Teves. SENT: 400 words.
— MACAU-LAGERFELD HOTEL — Karl Lagerfeld and a Macau casino operator announce plans for the Chanel designer to create his first hotel. The 270-room Karl Lagerfeld Hotel will open in 2017 in a 20-story tower in the gambling enclave in southern China. SENT: 300 words, photo.
— SUPERSTORM-NJ DEBRIS — A federal audit finds New Jersey did nothing wrong when it used a no-bid contract to hire a firm to clean up debris left behind by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. But the U.S. Homeland Security Department says that towns that continued to use the firm for more than 60 days without putting the work out to bid might not be fully reimbursed by the federal government. SENT: 400 words.
— CHILD SEAT RECALL — The federal government is ordering child seat maker Graco to explain why it didn't include 1.8 million infant seats in a recall for faulty buckles. SENT: 330 words.
— LL BEAN — — Coming off record profits and four years of revenue growth, L.L. Bean is ready to make the biggest single-year capital investment in the retailer's 102-year history, the company's CEO said Friday. SENT: 430 words.
— CLIFFS NATURAL-CASABLANCA — — Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. said Friday that activist investor Casablanca Capital has turned down its offer of board seats, which was made in an attempt to settle a proxy fight. SENT: 350 words.
— FORECLOSURE DESPITE INSURANCE: Judge issues $3.1 million judgment against Wells Fargo for foreclosing on the home of a man who had just died in a workplace accident. UPCOMING: 400 words by 3 p.m.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's prime minister has threatened drastic steps to censor the Internet, including shutting down Facebook and YouTube, where audio recordings of his alleged conversations suggesting corruption have been leaked in the past weeks, dealing him a major blow ahead of this month's local elections. By Suzan Fraser. SENT: 380 words, photos.
— SWEDEN-FACEBOOK-SERVER FARM — Facebook plans to build a new data center at its server farm in northern Sweden, less than a year after opening the plant, its first outside the United States. SENT: 130 words.
— SAMSUNG-MILK MUSIC — Samsung is unveiling a new free music service for its phones. The South Korean gadget maker says its Milk Music service includes over 200 stations and 13 million songs. SENT: 110 words.
BERLIN — German industrial production rises 0.8 percent in January compared with the previous month, boosted by strong growth in the construction sector during the country's unseasonably warm winter. SENT: 150 words, photo.
— GREECE-FINANCIAL CRISIS — Greek banks see their share prices swing sharply a day after the country's central bank said they need to raise billions of euros to plug holes in their finances. SENT: 460 words.
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The Internal Revenue Service says the number of taxpayers filing from home computers is up 7.5 percent, compared with the same time last year. Shares of Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, are trading near an all-time high. Should investors take a closer look? UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.
Foot Locker hits all-time high
Shares of Foot Locker hit an all-time intraday high Friday after the footwear company reported that fourth-quarter net income climbed 16 percent. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.
MONEY & MARKETS EXTRA
For the week ending Saturday, March 8, 2014
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.
Investors in other countries are slower to hop on the index-fund train than U.S. investors; dividend-paying stocks have lagged this year; income-tax refunds so far in 2014 have been bigger than a year ago. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.
Sorting out emerging markets
Emerging markets have been put through the wringer this year. Even so, they can still offer opportunities for investors willing to do their homework and sort the weak from the strong, says Morgan Harting of Alliance Bernstein, a manager of the firm's Emerging Markets Multi-Asset Portfolio. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.
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