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Stocks seek direction...US Bank to pay $18M to customers of Iowa brokerage...Recalls cut into GM profits


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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks have been moving between slight gains and losses as oil prices plunge, ending a four-day rally. Stronger profits for Disney drove its stock higher, pulling the Dow Jones industrial average up. Over the past six trading days, the market has turned in three gains and three losses.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — U.S. Bank will pay $18 million to settle a civil lawsuit filed by regulators alleging that it mishandled customer funds of a collapsed Iowa brokerage. A federal judge has approved a consent decree ordering the bank to return the money to customers of Peregrine Financial Group. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission alleged that U.S. Bank allowed Peregrine founder Russell Wasendorf Sr. to improperly withdraw millions of customer funds. He is serving a 50-year prison term for stealing $215 million from customers.

DETROIT (AP) — If it weren't for the recalls, 2014 would have been a stellar year for General Motors. Even with $2.8 billion in pretax costs to fix more than 30 million recalled vehicles and $400 million set aside for death and injury claims, GM still managed to turn a $2.8 billion profit. Net income fell 26 percent but GM's full-year earnings amounted to $1.65 per share. Excluding one-time items, it earned $3.05 per share, beating Wall Street estimates. Things were so good, GM decided to increase its dividend next quarter by 20 percent, to 36 cents, pending board approval.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Officials say a small group of influential Republicans in search of a replacement health care law intends to propose tax credits for lower-income individuals and families to encourage the purchase of insurance. At the same time, the plan will propose jettisoning the highly controversial coverage requirement in the current law. The proposals are part of an outline that Sen. Orrin Hatch, Sen. Richard Burr and Rep. Fred Upton are expected to unveil tomorrow.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation's new postmaster general says the Postal Service is looking beyond its regular mail and package delivery for new sources of revenue. Megan Brennan says among other things, it's testing grocery delivery in San Francisco and delivering cases of drinking water to customers in parts of New York City. Brennan says the Postal Service's current financial situation is untenable, considering "we have 35 cents in assets for every dollar of liability."

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