Markets post gains Friday
NEW YORK, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes climbed Friday, but the Dow Jones industrial average fell short of its starting point for the week, ending a winning streak at four weeks.
The Nasdaq and Standard & Poor's 500 indexes came out ahead for the week and both reached milestones. The Nasdaq index closed at a 12-year high, while the S&P 500 reached a five-year high and closed with gains for six consecutive weeks.
The indexes got a boost from the U.S. Commerce Department report on the trade deficit, which shrank $19.5 billion from 2011 to 2012.
The annual decline was pushed by a surprising trading gap of $38.5 billion in December from $48.6 billion in November. Economists had expected a drop, but only to $46 billion.
Trading was exceptionally light with 2.9 billion shares trading hands as New York braced for a winter storm and many brokers headed for home early.
By close of trading Friday, the DJIA added 48.92 points or 0.35 percent to 13,992.97. The Dow needs to top 14,009.79 to go ahead for the week.
The Nasdaq composite index added 28.74 points or 0.91 percent to 3,193.87. The Standard & Poor's 500 gained 8.54 points or 0.57 percent to 1,517.93.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 2,035 stocks advanced and 979 declined on a volume of 2.9 billion shares traded.
The 10-year treasury note rose 2/32 to yield 1.95 percent.
Against the dollar, the euro fell to $1.3365 from Thursday's $1.3397. The dollar fell to 92.69 yen from 93.63 yen.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index dropped 203.91 points, 1.8 percent, to 11,153.16.
In London, the FTSE 100 index rose 0.57 percent, 35.51 points, to 6,263.93.
HP sets rules for student labor in China
BEIJING, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Electronics giant Hewlett-Packard said it had imposed strict limits on student labor in China, a subsection of labor fraught with abuses.
HP may have taken its cue from Apple, which recently said it would monitor student labor at its supplier production plants in China. But HP is going a step further, instructing suppliers that student labor must be voluntary in nature and students must have a reprisal-free grievance process to use when necessary, The New York Times reported Friday.
HP is also mandating suppliers limit student labor to no more than 20 percent of their workforce during peak demand periods and that students working at plants must be given jobs that compliment their studies.
The company's plan is to reduce the limit of student workers to 10 percent of the workforce in the future but its managers haven't decided when that would take place.
In China, a labor shortage has been intensified by the government's one-child policy which controlled population growth in the 1980s and 1990s.
In response, students have been put to work in factories. But they can be ordered to do so by their schools where suppliers pay school administrators for their help. The complaints include short notice for work orders, long hours and placement into jobs that have nothing to do with their studies. The schools continue to receive tuition while students are working, the Times said.
The work orders sometimes come from local governments. Sometimes students are given no choice when a work assignment is given, said the director of a labor rights advocacy group.
"This sometimes even involves forced labor, which is absolutely against the corporate social responsibilities of companies like Apple and HP," said Institute of Contemporary Observation director Liu Kaiming.
"We're doing this because we think this is an important issue, and there are certainly concerns around it and some ambiguity around the appropriate standards," Tony Prophet, HP's senior vice president for worldwide supply chain operations, told the Times.
CEO departures increased in January
CHICAGO, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- The number of U.S. chief executive officers leaving their jobs increased in January, led by healthcare and hospital executives, an employment firm said Friday.
Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said 113 CEOs left their jobs in January -- 9.7 percent more than in December, when 103 left their jobs, and the most departures in a month since January 2012, when 126 CEOs left.
Healthcare companies and hospitals lost 23 CEOS in January. Thirteen computer companies CEOs left their jobs and 12 CEOs departed from financial firms, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said.
Among the noted departures, Frank Petrilli at E-Trade Financial resigned to take the board chairman job and Lou D'Ambrosio is stepping down at Sears Holdings, Supervalu CEO Wayne Sales is being replaced by Sam Duncan, former CEO at OfficeMax.
Retailer dEliA's board said CEO Walter Killough will not be granted another contract.
The departures include 30 who resigned, 25 of whom are taking other jobs at their companies, most often on the board of directors.
Twenty-four CEOs said they were retiring in January. Thirteen said they had found jobs in other companies.
Late for work? Some wild excuses
CHICAGO, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Heavy traffic, bad weather and an attack by a bear were among the excuses U.S. workers gave for being late in 2012, a survey found.
In the survey of more than 2,600 hiring managers and more than 3,900 workers, 26 percent of workers indicated they were late to work once a month, CareerBuilder said Friday.
Sixteen percent indicated they were late for work once a week or more.
The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive.
Excuses for being late ranged from the pedestrian to the outrageous, CareerBuilder said.
The most often blamed is traffic -- 31 percent of workers indicated traffic forced their tardiness.
Lack of sleep, child-care hassles, disruptive weather and slow public transportation were also commonly cited, CareerBuilder said.
And then there were these:
-- Angry wife froze keys to the truck inside a glass of water.
-- The cement duck on the lawn needed a raincoat.
-- Drove to a previous employer by mistake.
-- Helped a stranger deliver a baby on the way to work
The excuse of the bear attacking a commuter's car, it turns out, came with photographic evidence of the marauding bruin, CareerBuilder said.
The results of the survey include a margin of error of up to plus and minus 1.92 percentage points.