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US markets lower ... Holiday spending up nearly 8 percent, online shopping up 20 percent ... Cow dung is big business in India

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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are edging lower in early trading today, led by declines in energy and mining companies as prices for oil and other commodities fell. At 10:33 a.m. Eastern Time, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 85 points, 17,469. The S&P 500 fell 13 points, to 2,048. And the Nasdaq composite shed 36 points, to 5,012.

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans spent more on items like furniture during the holidays this year, with online shopping especially seeing a big spike. A report by MasterCard SpendingPulse says overall spending rose 7.9 percent from a year ago and online shopping was up 20 percent. Shopping at physical stores still accounts for the majority of spending during the holidays. But the continuing shift to online shopping is forcing retailers to improve their websites, or offer perks like faster or free delivery.

NEW YORK (AP) — The clothing brand licensing company Iconix is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The New York company is speaking with the SEC in regard to the accounting of certain joint ventures. In November, Iconix restated financial results going back to 2013.

NEW YORK (AP) — Valeant Pharmaceuticals CEO J. Michael Pearson is taking a medical leave of absence after he was hospitalized with pneumonia last week. Valeant says three executives will take over for Pearson in his absence. Valeant has recently come under scrutiny for its drug pricing policies, as well as its relationship with the mail-order pharmacy Philidor, which critics believe created a network of "phantom pharmacies" to steer pharmacy benefit managers toward Valeant's more-expensive drugs, rather than to cheaper alternatives.

NEW DELHI (AP) — Cow dung is big business in India. It's so popular that the patties, made of cow poop and hay and dried in the sun, are also being sold on eBay and Amazon. They're made mainly by women in rural areas of India and are used to fuel fires. Some retailers are offering discounts for large orders, and some customers have even been asking for gift wrapping. Hindus have long worshipped cows as sacred and cow dung cakes also are used in Hindu rituals.

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