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Feb. 6, 2013 at 7:05 PM   |   Comments

Markets close mixed

NEW YORK, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. markets closed mixed Wednesday with investors seeking a comfort zone after a four-week winning streak.

Stocks have moved up and down through the week and eased back Wednesday despite an upbeat corporate report from entertainment giant Walt Disney.

With no major reports released Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average closed 7.22 points higher, up 0.05 percent to 13,986.52. The Nasdaq composite index lost 3.10 points or 0.1 percent to 3,168.48. The Standard & Poor's 500 added 0.83 points or 0.05 percent to 1,512.12.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,768 stock advanced and 1,251 declined on a volume of 3.5 billion shares traded.

The 10-year treasury note was yielding 1.964 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro fell to $1.3523 from Tuesday's $1.3582. The dollar fell to 93.54 yen from 93.65 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index soared, adding 416.83 points, 3.77 percent, to 11,463.75.

In London, the FTSE 100 index rose 0.2 percent, 12.58 points, to 6,295.34.


RBS to pay $613 million for Libor fixing

LONDON, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- British and U.S. regulators said the Royal Bank of Scotland will pay $613 million to settle charges of manipulating the benchmark Libor interest rate.

The bank will pay $137 million to Britain's Financial Services Authority, $150 million to the U.S. Department of Justice and $325 million to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, The Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday.

The fine is the second-largest to date in the growing scandal. Swiss bank UBS was fined $1.5 billion and British bank Barclays $454 million for attempting to fix the rate used as a benchmark for trillions of dollars in personal and commercial loans.

Banks manipulated the rate during the financial crisis in order to appear healthier than they were. Traders also manipulated the rate to profit on individual market bets.

RBS, which is 81 percent owned by British taxpayers, was faulted for situating traders close to the offices that were responsible for submitting figures that made up the Libor or London inter-bank offered rate, which is an average of interest rates banks charge when making loans to each other.

Bart Chilton, a commissioner at the CFTC said he was "amazed" to discover that RBS staff were manipulating the bank's submissions even after it became known that regulators were investigating the issue.

"Even after all of these Libor cases were being investigated, it is amazing that RBS employees tried to fly above the law," Chilton said.

"They acted as if they were the masters of the universe and the rules of fair play just didn't apply," he said.

RBS Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hester said he was ""disgusted" and "depressed" by the developments. The bank's pay pool would be reduced by $470 million due to the settlement, he said.

RBS said the bank was exonerated, as regulators faulted more than a dozen traders and their supervisors, but not the bank on the whole.

Emails released by the CFTC show how brazen some of the bank's employees were. "It's just amazing how Libor fixing can make you that much money," one trader wrote.

Referring to the Japanese yen, "The jpy Libor is a cartel now," another trader wrote.


Trade group sues olive oil producer

NEW YORK, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- The North American Olive Oil Association said it was suing a New York company for falsely declaring its Capatriti products of blended oils were pure olive oil.

Oils made from pressed olive pits and skins are called olive pomace. It is far cheaper than virgin olive oil to produce, said Eryn Balch, executive vice president of the NAOOA.

"Olive pomace oil is not allowed in any grade of olive oil under any standard in the world," Balch said.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Themis Kangadis, an executive with Kangadis Food, which is based in Hauppage, N.Y., and does business as The Gourmet Factory, said he had "no idea," that the association had filed a lawsuit.

Balch explained to the Times that the group had discovered prices for Capatriti olive oil was far cheaper than rival brands, which suggested tins labeled "100% Pure Olive Oil," were filled with blended products.

The industry standard for virgin olive is that it be made from the first pressing of olives and that it includes no other fats or oils. That is also the definition adopted by the Food and Drug Administration in 1982.

New York State takes it a step further, requiring that blended products be accurately labeled with percentages of each component put on the label.

Balch said the association hired an independent contractor to buy samples of Capatriti products and send them to a laboratory in Spain for testing. The lab "clearly confirmed that none of the samples were olive oil," Balch said. "Instead they were some type of pomace oil and pomace oil and seed oils."

"There have been too many reports that the grading and labeling of olive oil are a big problem," said Dan Flynn, executive director of the Olive Center at the University of California, Davis.


Motorcycle sales rose in 2012

IRVINE, Calif., Feb. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. motorcycle sales made solid gains in 2012, but remained below peak years, the Motorcycle Industry Council said.

Sales rose 2.6 percent to 452,386 motorcycles, which includes dual purpose, off-highway, scooter and highway motorcycles, the trade group said.

The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that all four segments of the industry saw increased sales in 2012 with scooters leading the pack on a sales gain of 7.7 percent.

Dual purpose motorcycle sales rose 7.4 percent while sales of off-highway motorcycles rose 2.1 percent and highway motorcycle sales rose 1.8 percent.

In terms of numbers, 318,105 highway, 71,535 off-highway, 34,294 scooters and 28,452 dual purpose motorcycles were sold.

The market is still in recovery. In 2006, total motorcycle sales were at 1.1 million. The market tumbled in 2008, as the economy turned south.


Former treasury secretary lands a job

NEW YORK, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- A think-tank in New York announced its most recent hire is former U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The Council on Foreign Relations said Geithner had accepted a position as a senior fellow and would start later this month.

The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that Geithner has previous experience at the think tank, having worked there in 2001 after an earlier job at the Treasury Department.

After his previous stint at the think tank, Geithner went on to a job at the International Monetary Fund. From there, he went on to serve as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

He worked in that job from 2003 through 2009, when he became the treasury secretary.

"Both at treasury and at the New York Federal Reserve, Tim was a tireless, creative, and responsible custodian of the public trust," said the think tank's president, Richard Haass.

"His coming to CFR only strengthens our capacity to produce thoughtful analysis of issues at the intersection of economic, political, and strategic developments," Haass said.

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