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—Adds: SOUTHWEST AIRLINES-INSPECTIONS, BILLIONAIRE-LAWSUIT TRIAL,COMCAST-GRUMPY CAT, OBIT-BENMOSCHE
—Updates: FINANCIAL MARKETS
NEW YORK — It's not clear to patrons of the U.S. Taco Co., where a chalkboard menu lists "The 1%er" made with lobster meat, that the shop is an outpost of a chain better known for cheesy gut bombs: Taco Bell. As people increasingly reach for foods that seem unique and less processed, some companies are testing whether it would pay to tuck away their world famous logos in favor of more hipster guises. By Candice Choi. SENT: 860 words, photos.
ECONOMY-GDP-5 THINGS TO KNOW
WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of just 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter, less than half the torrid 5 percent rate turned in during the third quarter. But economists say the sharp slowdown is nothing to worry about. Here are five reasons why the economy is actually doing fine. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 700 words, photo.
— ECONOMY-GDP — The U.S. economy slows more sharply in the final three months of the year than previously believed, reflecting weaker business and a bigger trade deficit. It marked a major slowdown from the third quarter, which had been the strongest growth in 11 years. SENT: 860 words, photo.
NETFLIX'S HOUSE OF CASH
SAN FRANCISCO — The political drama "House of Cards" launched Netflix's expansion into original programming two years ago, a risky bet that might have toppled the Internet video service had the show flopped and squandered its estimated $100 million investment. Instead, the show was an immediate hit and gives Netflix the financial clout and creative firepower to further transform how we watch and define "television." By Michael Liedtke. SENT: 670 words, photos.
HAVANA — Cuban cigar makers are licking their chops over new U.S. rules allowing more Americans to travel to the island and legally bring back small quantities of the coveted stogies for the first time in decades. Officials say this year alone they expect to double on-island sales of hand-rolled cigars. By Andrea Rodriguez. SENT: 770 words, photos.
MARKETS & ECONOMY:
February proved to be a strong month for U.S. stocks, even though it ended in downbeat fashion. Major stock indexes close lower, capping a week of subdued trading that still delivered a couple of new highs for the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 index. It also brought the Nasdaq composite within striking distance of its March 2000 high. By Alex Veiga. SENT: 880 words, photos.
PENDING HOME SALES
WASHINGTON — The number of Americans signing contracts to buy homes rise at a healthy pace in January, a sign that home sales are poised to accelerate after a slow start to the year. By Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 420 words, photo.
WASHINGTON — Harsh winter weather leaves U.S. consumers feeling a bit less confident this month, the University of Michigan says. But confidence levels still remain at the highest level in eight years. By Paul Wiseman. SENT: 260 words, photo.
OIL TRAIN SAFETY
WASHINGTON — Fiery wrecks of trains hauling crude oil have intensified pressure on the Obama administration to approve tougher standards for railroads and tank cars despite industry complaints that it could cost billions and slow freight deliveries. By Joan Lowy. SENT: 800 words, photo, graphic.
WASHINGTON — The first peek at a major study of how Americans smoke suggests many use combinations of products, and often e-cigarettes are part of the mix. It's a preliminary finding, but it highlights some key questions as health officials assess electronic cigarettes. By Lauran Neergaard. SENT: 660 words, photo.
— OBIT-BENMOSCHE — Former AIG CEO Robert Benmosche, who led company after its $182 billion bailout, dies at 70. SENT: 430 words, photo.
— FIAT CHRYSLER-SUV RECALL — Fiat Chrysler is recalling more than 467,000 Dodge and Jeep SUVs worldwide to fix a faulty fuel pump relay at the root of a potential stalling problem. SENT: 470 words, photo.
— SOUTHWEST AIRLINES-INSPECTIONS — Southwest Airlines says it expects to meet a federal deadline this weekend and finish examining 128 planes that were grounded because of missed inspections. SENT: 120 words.
— BILLIONAIRE-LAWSUIT TRIAL — Jurors in New York have found that billionaire Ira Rennert plundered a now-bankrupt mining company to pay for personal luxuries, including a Hamptons mansion that's one of the world's biggest private homes. SENT: 150 words.
— EBOLA TREATMENT STUDY — The U.S. and Liberian governments have just begun the first formal patient testing of an experimental Ebola virus treatment that's only been used on an emergency basis. SENT: 610 words.
— GERMANY-EARNS-VOLKSWAGEN — German automaker Volkswagen says net profit rose 20 percent last year to 10.8 billion euros ($12.1 billion), but offered a cautious outlook for this year. SENT: 270 words.
— AIRBUS-RESULTS — Airbus says its net profit soared 59 percent last year as a record-high number of jet deliveries helped offset a 551 million euros end-of-year charge against its delayed A400M military transporter program. SENT: 320 words, photos.
— BRITAIN-EARNS-LLOYDS — London-based Lloyds Banking Group passes a milestone in its recovery from the financial crisis, reporting an annual profit and announcing plans to pay a dividend for the first time since it was rescued by British taxpayers. SENT: 350 words.
TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:
WHITE HOUSE-PRIVACY BILL
WASHINGTON — The White House has drafted a bill to encourage U.S. businesses to do more to protect consumer privacy. But privacy advocates are pushing back even before its release because they say it does nothing to hold businesses accountable for misusing a consumer's personal information. By Anne Flaherty. SENT: 690 words, photo.
— SWEDEN-ERICSSON-APPLE — Swedish wireless equipment maker Ericsson is suing Apple for alleged patent infringement. SENT: 140 words.
— PROVIDENCE JOURNAL-PUBLISHER — A veteran newspaper executive credited with increasing online readership and digital advertising has been named publisher of The Providence Journal. SENT: 140 words.
— COMCAST-GRUMPY CAT — Internet activists took an aerial jab at Comcast to celebrate new government rules affecting the Philadelphia-based corporation. SENT: 140 words.
BERLIN — Germany's Parliament overwhelmingly approves the four-month extension of Greece's financial bailout, despite unease over the new government in Athens. Greece was granted the extension by its European creditors in exchange for a commitment to budget reforms. Germany is among the countries that needed to approve the deal in its national parliament. By Geir Moulson. SENT: 620 words, photos.
— GREECE-BAILOUT — Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says Greece will not ask for a third bailout, and that the issue of how his country will repay its oversized debt is still on the table in talks with European creditors. SENT: 600 words, photos.
TOKYO — Japanese factories churn out more machinery and electronic devices in January as export shipments rise, but lower energy costs due to cheaper crude oil failed to provide a boost to consumer spending. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 700 words, photos.
— RUSSIA-UKRAINE-GAS — Cash-strapped Ukraine seeks to buy time in its effort to ensure continued gas supplies from Russia, making a $15 million payment to Moscow as it waits for international rescue loans to arrive. But Moscow says the sum will cover only an additional day, leaving a potential cut-off looming Tuesday. SENT: 770 words, photo.
— INDIA-ECONOMY — A government report says India's economy will grow more than 8 percent in the upcoming financial year and appears to have shaken off its persistent problems of high inflation, rising budget deficits and poor domestic demand. SENT: 350 words.
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A done deal
Corporate America is in the final days of fourth-quarter earnings season, and just two of the 10 sectors of the Standard & Poor's 500 index are expected to report a decrease in earnings. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.
Weight Watchers shares plummet
Weight Watchers shares plummet after the weight-loss program operator issues a disappointing profit outlook for the year. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.