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UPI NewsTrack Business

  |   April 9, 2012 at 6:53 PM
Stocks skid Monday

NEW YORK, April 9 (UPI) -- U.S. stocks finished sharply lower Monday as investors reacted to a report released on Good Friday, when markets were closed.

The 130-point drop came after traders had the Easter holiday weekend to think about the Labor Department report that only 120,000 non-farm jobs were added to the economy in March, far short of the 203,000 jobs economists expected.

There are no major economic reports due this week until the March Consumer Price Index comes out on Friday the 13th.

By close of trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 130.55 or 1 percent to 12,929.59. The tech-dominated Nasdaq composite index gave up 33.42 points or 1.08 percent to 3,047.08. The Standard and Poor's 500 index shed 15.88 points or 1.14 percent to 1,382.20.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 636 stocks advanced and 2,420 declined on a volume of 2.9 billion shares traded.

The 10-year treasury note was yielding 2.053 percent.

The euro rose to $1.3104 from Thursday's $1.3096. Against the yen, the dollar was higher at 81.56 yen from Thursday's 81.49 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index shed 1.47 percent, 142.19, to 9,546.26.


Facebook, Instagram deal means big payday

PALO ALTO, Calif., April 9 (UPI) -- Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said Monday the company had purchased a San Fransisco firm, Instagram, which has just 13 employees, for $1 billion.

Instagram is a 2-year-old photograph-sharing Web site, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The sale will mean a huge payday for the firm's owners and leave "a portion" of about $100 million to be divided up among the firm's 13 employees, Wired reported Monday.

As for founder Keven Systrom, who owns 40 percent of the company, he will net about $400 million from the deal. Co-founder Mike Krieger owns 10 percent and will see a return of about $100 million.

Venture capital firm Benchmark Capital owns 18 percent while investment firms Andreessen Horowitz and Baseline Ventures each own 10 percent, Wired said.

Zuckerberg said Facebook would "be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram's strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook," Zuckerberg said in an online posting.

"That's why we're committed to building and growing Instagram independently," he said. "Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it."

Facebook has generally acquired only small companies to get their pools of talent.

"This is the first time we've ever acquired a product and company with so many users," Zuckerberg said.

And, Zuckerberg said, it might be the last.

"We don't plan on doing many more of these, if any at all," he wrote.


Hybrid owners show little loyalty

DETROIT, April 9 (UPI) -- U.S. consumers with hybrid cars are not showing strong loyalty to hybrids when returning to dealer showrooms, a survey of car owners indicated.

Industry researchers at R.L. Polk & Co. found 35 percent of hybrid owners maintain loyalty to hybrids, a figure that drops to 25 percent if just one brand, the Toyota Prius, is removed from the equation.

The Prius remains the most sought after hybrid vehicle by far and loyalty to the brand leads the hybrid pack.

Toyota sold 136,463 Priuses in 2011. By comparison, Ford sold 11,286 Fusions hybrids, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

The reason for the drop off in loyalty is not clear. Some hybrid owners are opting for electric cars to replace their hybrids, data shows. Generally, however, "The lineup of alternate-drive vehicles and their premium price points just aren't appealing enough to consumers to give the segment the momentum it once anticipated, especially given the growing strength of fuel economy among compact and midsize competitors," said Lacey Plache, Edmunds.com chief economist.

Overall, hybrids represented 2.4 percent of automobile sales in 2011. That's down from 2.9 percent in 2008.


AT&T sells control of Yellow Pages

NEW YORK, April 9 (UPI) -- U.S. telecommunications giant AT&T said Monday it would sell its struggling Yellow Pages division to Cerberus Capital Management for about $1 billion.

CNNMoney reported Monday the deal included $750 million in cash and a $200 million note. AT&T will maintain 47 percent interest in the company, which will be controlled by Cerberus, a private equity firm.

The business established itself as a mainstay in the United States -- an annual encyclopedia of business listings. At its peak, it was delivered to 150 million homes in 22 states.

As the world goes increasingly digital, however, the Yellow Pages has been struggling to keep up. Cerberus plans to update the business to fit into the digital age, CNNMoney reported.

"The equity stake could give AT&T some option value if the new owners execute on improving the business' growth and profitability as a standalone entity," Raymond James telecommunications industry analyst Frank Louthan wrote in a note to clients.

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