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Business News at 1:50 p.m.

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Editors: Please note the weekly personal finance column, "On the Money," which is usually sent on Wednesdays, will be sent on Friday, Jan. 31. Questions can be sent to Trevor Delaney, tdelaney@ap.org.

TOP STORIES:

ECONOMY

WASHINGTON — Consumers will spend more. The government will subtract less. Businesses will invest more. And more companies will hire. Add it all up, and you can see why expectations are rising that the 2014 U.S. economy will be the best since the recession ended 4½ years ago. The optimists got a boost from a government report Thursday that consumers fueled solid growth for the economy in the last quarter of 2013. The report lifted hopes that the economy will manage this year to withstand turmoil in emerging economies, a pullback in the Federal Reserve's stimulus and mounting risks to the U.S. stock market. SENT: 675 words, photo. UPCOMING: 850 words by 4 p.m.

With:

CHINA-ECONOMIC OBSTACLES

BEIJING — Business should be picking up for Zhao Guoping, a Beijing shopkeeper, as Chinese leaders try to build a consumer society to replace a worn-out economic model based on trade and investment. But his financial struggle highlights the hurdles that ambitious effort faces. Squeezed by higher costs and weak sales to budget-minded shoppers, Zhao said the income from his neighborhood shop has fallen by half to 50,000 yuan ($6,000) a year. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

And:

ARGENTINA-ECONOMIC SURVIVAL KIT

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Consumer prices are soaring, the treasury is running low on foreign currency and the peso has had its sharpest slide in 12 years. Instead of rioting, though, Argentines are falling back on tried and true survival skills to cope with the turmoil. By Almudena Calatrava and Debora Rey. SENT: 1,070 words, photos.

BERNANKE LEGACY

WASHINGTON — When Ben Bernanke puts on his coat and leaves his office Friday, he'll close the door on a precedent-breaking eight years as head of the Federal Reserve. Bernanke took office on Feb. 1, 2006, more the shy Princeton professor than a likely combatant in Washington's knock-down political culture. On his watch, the economy and the U.S. financial system fell into their gravest crisis since the Great Depression. The Bernanke-led Fed invoked extraordinary steps never tried before to restore confidence and bolster the economy and banking system. Bernanke's policies drew praise as well as warnings that they injected new risks that will endure beyond his tenure. UPCOMING: 950 words by 2 p.m., photo.

DEEP FREEZE-BUSINESSES

TOLEDO, Ohio — The homemade matzo ball and beef barley soups are lost on customers walking into Rascals' NY Deli — because there just aren't very many of them. Across much of the eastern half of the country, bitter cold and snowstorms in recent weeks have put a chill on restaurants, bakeries and coffee shops, limiting the number of walk-in customers and shrinking tips. Some merchants report sales cut in half. SENT: 780 words.

SUPER BOWL:

SUPER BOWL ADS-CUTE BOWL — Call it the Cute Bowl. From Muppets to little kids, adorable is the name of the game this year as advertisers try to capitalize on cuteness and heartwarming tales to grab audience attention this year during Super Bowl XLVII. SENT: 470 words, photos.

SMALLBIZ-SUPER BOWL AD

The small business that won a Super Bowl ad, paid for by software maker Intuit, is revealed. By Joyce M. Rosenberg. UPCOMING: 400 words, photos. Embargoed for 5 p.m.

MARKETS & ECONOMY:

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

WASHINGTON — Weekly applications for U.S. unemployment benefits rose 19,000 last week to 348,000, the highest in about a month. But the broader trend in applications remains low. SENT: 480 words, photo.

PENDING HOME SALES

WASHINGTON — Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy previously occupied homes in December, suggesting a slowdown in real estate. Pending home sales fell to the lowest point since October 2011. SENT: 340 words.

MORTGAGE RATES

WASHINGTON — Average U.S. rates for fixed mortgages slipped this week as new data showed a decline in home prices in November and a drop in new homes sales last month. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average for the 30-year loan fell to 4.32 percent from 4.39 percent last week. The average for the 15-year loan eased to 3.40 percent from 3.44 percent. SENT: 420 words.

— BANK OF AMERICA-COUNTRYWIDE — Federal prosecutors wants a judge to order Bank of America to pay $2.1 billion in penalties for knowingly selling bad home loans, more than double the amount the government had sought in the case. SENT: 390 words.

WALL STREET

NEW YORK — Stocks rise on strong earnings from Facebook and an encouraging report that the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter. SENT: 400 words. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m.

— OIL PRICES —The price of oil moves toward $98 a barrel, supported by the cold weather in the United States which led to a big drop in heating oil supplies. SENT: 300 words. UPCOMING: 350 words by 3:30 p.m.

INDUSTRY:

CARIBBEAN-CRUISE SHIP OUTBREAK

BAYONNE, N.J. — Kim Waite was especially disappointed to fall ill while treating herself to a Caribbean cruise after completing cancer treatment. The London woman thought she was the only sick one as her husband wheeled her to the infirmary — until the elevator doors opened to reveal hundreds of people vomiting into bags, buckets or on the floor, whatever was closest. By Samantha Henry. SENT: 490 words, photos, audio, video.

TOYOTA-SEAT FABRIC

DETROIT — Toyota has told North American dealers to stop selling six popular models with heated seats because the fabric doesn't comply with U.S. safety codes and potentially could catch fire. Toyota says thousands of cars will need to have the fabric replaced, including an unspecified number of best-selling Camrys. No fires or injuries have been reported. Incorporates BC-AS--Japan-Toyota. SENT: 460 words. UPCOMING: 500 words by 2 p.m., photo.

CHIMPANZEES-MEDICAL RESEARCH

TRENTON, N.J. — Drugmaker Merck & Co. joins two dozen other pharmaceutical companies and contract laboratories in committing not to do research on chimpanzees or financially support such testing. Better technology has made use of primates unnecessary, and pressure from groups such as the Humane Society of the United States have pushed private companies and the U.S. government over the last several years to phase out what opponents say is harmful research on the animals. UPCOMING: About 500 words by 3:30 p.m.

With:

— CHIMPANZEES-MEDICAL RESEARCH-COMPANIES — A glance of companies rejecting research on chimpanzees.

FEMALE FIREFIGHTERS

NEW YORK — As a New York City firefighter, Sarinya Srisakul didn't work with another woman for five years, and when she did, she took pictures because it was so rare. There are only 37 women out of 10,500 uniformed firefighters in New York City, among the lowest percentage of any department in the nation. But that number is expected to grow after a record number of women took the latest exam. SENT: 1,070 words, photos, video.

— MEN'S WEARHOUSE-JOS A BANK — Men's Wearhouse says it could boost its offer to Jos. A. Bank if the rival men's clothing retailer forms a committee to reconsider merging the two companies. SENT: 130 words.

— EUROPE-AIR TRAFFIC STRIKE — About 20 percent of flights in and out of Paris' airports have been canceled because air traffic controllers are on strike over plans to combine European air space. SENT: 140 words.

— TESORO REFINERY BLAST — Federal chemical safety investigators are recommending tougher state and federal oil refinery oversight after a 2010 explosion and fire at a Tesoro Corp. refinery in Anacortes that killed seven workers. SENT: 730 words.

— DEHUMIDIFIERS RECALL — Gree Electric Appliances is recalling an additional 350,000 dehumidifiers because of a risk that they could overheat, smoke or catch fire. SENT: 150 words.

EARNINGS:

EARNS-GOOGLE

Google Inc. reports quarterly financial results after the market close. UPCOMING: xxx words by xx p.m.

NETHERLANDS-EARNS-SHELL

AMSTERDAM — Oil companies' rush to find reserves off Alaska's Arctic shores suffers a setback after Shell said it would suspend its operations in the region — and possibly withdraw for good. Royal Dutch Shell PLC is the main company to have purchased leases for oilfields off Alaska's Arctic shores, but its attempts to drill have been halting due to technical and legal hurdles. By Toby Sterling. SENT: 750 words, photo.

— EARNS-EXXON — Exxon Mobil's profit is down 16 percent from last year as the company is producing slightly less oil and gas. But it's still making more than $8.3 billion in three months. SENT: 390 words.

— EARNS-HARLEY-DAVIDSON — Harley-Davidson's fourth-quarter earnings rose 6.8 percent as motorcycle sales continued to rise worldwide. SENT: 320 words.

— EARNS-VISA — Visa's fiscal first-quarter net income increased 9 percent, as higher card spending boosted the number of payments it processed. Its performance beat analysts' expectations. SENT: 240 words.

— EARNS-UPS — UPS says its earned $1.2 billion in the fourth-quarter but a last-minute surge in holiday shipments drove up costs and hurt results. SENT: 380 words.

— EARNS-3M — 3M says its fourth-quarter earnings jumped more than 11 percent, fueled in part by a revenue gain from the Post-it note maker's industrial business. SENT: 270 words.

— EARNS-VIACOM — Viacom is reporting a 16 percent jump in net income for the first quarter thanks in part to smaller losses at its film division. SENT: 330 words.

— EARNS-ALTRIA — Altria's fourth-quarter profit dropped 56 percent as the Marlboro maker sold fewer cigarettes and recorded charges related to paying off debt early. SENT: 480 words.

— EARNS-AMAZON — Amazon reports quarterly financial results after the market close. UPCOMING: xxx words by xx p.m.

— EARNS-CHIPOTLE — Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. reports quarterly financial results after the market close. UPCOMING: xxx words by xx p.m.

— EARNS-H&M — Swedish retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB says higher sales helped it post a modest rise in fourth quarter profits, offsetting the impact of shifting currency values and increased investments. SENT: 360 words.

— SWITZERLAND-EARNS-ROCHE — Strong demand for its cancer medicines and diagnostic tests used by clinical laboratories boosted Swiss drug maker Roche's full-year profits. SENT: 240 words.

— BRITAIN-EARNS-DIAGEO — Drinks company Diageo PLC says net profit rose to 1.6 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) for the six months ending on Dec. 31, up from 1.5 billion pounds in the same period a year earlier. SENT: 130 words.

— SPAIN-EARNS-SANTANDER — Spain's Banco Santander SA says its profit more than doubled to 1.06 billion euros ($1.44 billion) in the fourth quarter of 2013 thanks to strong growth in Latin America and lower real estate provisions. SENT: 130 words.

— EARNS-ERICSSON — Wireless equipment maker Ericsson swung to a profit in the fourth quarter, reporting flat sales but higher margins. SENT: 130 words.

— EARNS-LVMH — LVMH reports full-year financial results. UPCOMING: xxx words by xx.

TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:

GOOGLE-MOTOROLA

SAN FRANCISCO — An expensive mistake by Google could turn into a golden opportunity for China's Lenovo Group as it expands beyond its success in the personal computer industry. By Michael Liedtke. SENT: 860 words, photo.

— JAPAN-NINTENDO — Nintendo has been unable to arrest a slide in console sales as more people play games on smartphones and tablets. The company's apparent solution? A move into health care. SENT: 320 words.

— BROADBAND IN SCHOOLS — The top officers at more than 40 companies are asking the Federal Communications Commission to act quickly to help get more high-speed Internet into America's classrooms. SENT: 140 words.

— BSKYB-RIGHTS — British Sky Broadcasting PLC seeks to secure its base against its insurgent rival BT PLC by securing some sports rights and a long-term deal with U.S. pay-TV network Home Box Office. By Pan Pylas. SENT: 560 words, photos.

WASHINGTON:

CONGRESS-MINIMUM WAGE

WASHINGTON — A Democratic push to boost the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour is a long shot in Congress this election year, even after President Barack Obama made the increase a centerpiece his State of the Union address. SENT: 1,030 words, photo.

OBAMA-RETIREMENT PLAN

WASHINGTON — Even proponents of President Barack Obama's new retirement savings program readily concede it won't be a cure-all for a nation of people who are saving far too little for their golden years. Many Americans won't be able to participate initially, and those who do may find the benefits are modest. SENT: 820 words, photos.

Also:

— OBAMA — President Barack Obama says not everyone needs a college degree to build a great career, as long as people have the right training. Obama says workers might make a better living with skilled trades and manufacturing than an art history degree. SENT: 250 words. UPCOMING: Will be updated from remarks beginning at 12:20 p.m. in Wis.; 5:20 p.m. in Tenn.

— FARM BILL — Support from Democrats and Republicans in the Senate is expected to overcome liberal as well as conservative criticism of a massive five-year farm bill that spends nearly $100 billion a year on food stamps and crop subsidies. SENT: 680 words, photo.

— FLOOD INSURANCE — Hundreds of thousands of homeowners facing big flood insurance premium increases would see those rate hikes delayed for years under legislation that's set to pass the Senate. SENT: 640 words, photo. UPCOMING: Will be updated from vote, expected to begin at 2 p.m. xxx words by xx p.m.

INTERNATIONAL:

NEW ZEALAND-ECONOMY

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Five years after the global financial crisis, New Zealand is poised to become one of the first developed nations to raise interest rates in response to a thriving economy. The South Pacific nation of 4.5 million is benefiting from huge demand in China for its milk products and from the gathering pace of reconstruction in Christchurch, where a 2011 earthquake destroyed much of the southern city's downtown. By Nick Perry. SENT: 1,180 words, photo.

—CHINA-MANUFACTURING — Chinese manufacturing shrank this month for the first time in half a year, a survey of factory purchasing managers. SENT: 410 words.

— GERMANY-UNEMPLOYMENT — Germany's unemployment rate rises to 7.3 percent in January, mainly due to seasonal factors, with about a quarter million more people out of work compared with December. SENT: 140 words.

— EUROPE-ECONOMY — New data is showing that Europe's squeeze on credit to consumers and businesses may be easing slightly. SENT: 140 words.

— PHILIPPINES-ECONOMY — The Philippine economy expands 7.2 percent in 2013 despite the havoc wrought in the last months of the year by a super typhoon, an earthquake and a weekslong gun battle that shut down a major port city. SENT: 490 words, photos.

— SOUTH AFRICA-STRIKING MINERS — One of South Africa's biggest mine unions says its members in the platinum industry have rejected an offer of a 9 percent pay increase and will continue striking. SENT: 140 words.

— JAPAN-NUCLEAR LAWSUIT — Some 1,400 people file a joint lawsuit against three companies that manufactured Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, saying they should be financially liable for damage caused by its 2011 meltdowns. SENT: 370 words.

— TUNISIA-IMF — Tunisia's battered post-revolutionary economy received a much-needed boost with the IMF's announcement that it was releasing half billion dollars which had been delayed for months. SENT: 300 words.

_____

A sampling of Money & Markets modules is below. The full digest for AP's Money & Markets service can be found at markets.ap.org. For questions about Money & Markets content, please contact Trevor Delaney (800-845-8450, ext. 1807). For technical support: Todd Balog (816-654-1096). After 6 p.m., contact the AP Business News desk (800-845-8450, ext. 1680) for content questions; 1-800-3AP-STOX for technical support and 212-621-1905 for graphics help.

CENTERPIECE

The $1,000 Challenge

A periodic snapshot of winning and losing investments so far this year. Frigid temperatures across much of the country mean that heating systems are working hard and that natural gas is in demand. That's why the commodity is way out front in the $1,000 challenge. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.

COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

Holidays hurt UPS

It's expensive to ship packages at the last minute. United Parcel Service faced higher costs to handle a surge of holiday shipments that hurt its fourth quarter results. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.

MONEY & MARKETS EXTRA: For the week ending Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014

CENTERPIECE

Hot wings?

There will be plenty of chicken wings and beer consumed during the Super Bowl. Buffalo Wild Wings, which opened its 1,000th location this week, will be busy on game day. But its stock is down 10 percent this year, have the hot wings cooled? UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.