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Feb. 13, 2013 at 6:47 PM   |   Comments

Markets close mixed; Dow under 14,000

NEW YORK, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes closed mixed Wednesday, with the Dow slipping back below 14,000 after the Census Bureau said retail sales rose marginally in January.

Sales rose 4.4 percent from January 2012, but only 0.1 percent from December, which was in line with expectations.

By close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average shed 35.79 points or 0.26 percent to finish at 13,982.91. The Nasdaq composite index added 10.38 points or 0.33 percent to reach 3,196.88. The Standard & Poor's 100 was flat, gaining 0.9 points or 0.06 percent to 1,520.33.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,800 stocks advanced and 1,271 declined on a volume of 3.3 billion shares traded.

The 10-year treasury note fell 15/32 to yield 2.033 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro fell to $1.3449 from Tuesday's $1.3454. The dollar fell to 93.26 yen from 93.48 yen.

The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo dropped 1.04 percent, 117.71 points, to 11,251.41.

The FTSE 100 index in London gave up 0.33 percent, 20.73 points, to 6,359.11.


Study finds teacher healthcare pricey

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Health insurance costs for U.S. teachers, a strongly unionized profession, are significantly higher than those in private sector jobs, an academic study found.

Healthcare costs were 26 percent higher than private-sector workers on an unadjusted basis in 2012, said a study scheduled to appear in the spring edition of "Education Next."

The study attempts to quantify health insurance costs for a heavily unionized profession versus costs for private-sector employees.

Using Bureau of Labor Statistics data, education reform and economics Professor Robert Costrell and doctoral fellow Jeffery Dean, both at the University of Arkansas, found average healthcare costs of $8,559 for teachers versus $6,803 for private sector employees, unadjusted.

However, "when adjusted for higher participation rates in healthcare plans among teachers versus private-sector professionals, the costs are 16 percent higher for teachers -- $9,838 versus $8,490 in the private sector," the study found.

On average, teacher healthcare costs for U.S. school districts rose 4 percent per year above inflation from 2004 through 2012, Costrell and Dean said.

The study also analyzed healthcare costs in Wisconsin, where a new law -- Act 10 -- eliminated benefits from local collective bargaining.

Calling the state a "natural experiment in changing teacher union strength," the authors said health insurance costs dropped sharply after Act 10 became law.

Data from the Wisconsin Association of School Boards showed "a sharp drop in employer premiums from 2011 to 2012 after implementation of the act."

After adjusting savings estimates to account for an average growth of premium costs that were likely to continue, the study found "estimated savings of $2,614 for family coverage and $1,304 for single coverage, or savings of 13 percent to 19 percent from the projected district premiums for 2012," Education Next said in a statement.


Apple loses iPhone trademark in Brazil

BRASILIA, Brazil, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Regulators in Brazil confirmed that Apple's iPhone trademark in the country belonged to Gradiente Electronica, which had registered the name in 2000.

CBS News reported that the Institute of Industry Property ruled in favor of Gradiente Electronica, which meant Apple could not use the name iPhone in Brazil.

The ruling applies to handsets only, CBS reported.

Gradiente began selling what it calls iPhones last December, years after it filed for the trademark, which Apple argued validated Gradiente's claim to the brand name.

Gradiente's product runs on an Android operating system.

Apple has settled two other lawsuits related to brand names. It settled a case with Cisco Systems, which was the original owner of the iPhone name, and also with Proview, a Chinese company that gave up the rights to the name iPad for $60 million.

The future of the name in Brazil is uncertain. A Gradiente official said last week the company was willing to discuss a settlement with Apple over the trademark.


Retail marginally higher in January

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Retail sales rose marginally in January from December, the U.S. Census Bureau said Wednesday.

Sales for the month came out 0.1 percent ahead of December at $416.6 billion. Sales, however, were 4.4 percent higher than January 2012, the bureau said.

The National Retail Federation, came up with different figures. The trade association said sales rose 0.3 percent from December, excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants.

The NRF said sales rose 5.4 percent from a year earlier.

"Consumers are continuing to hold back on spending just as our economy is held back by political brinksmanship in D.C.," NRF President Matthew Shay said in a statement.

The Census Bureau said month-to-month sales growth from non-store sources, including catalog and Internet sales, rose 15.7 percent from January 2012.

Automobile sales climbed 9.4 percent in January compared to the same month of 2012.

Sporting goods, hobby and book sales rose 7 percent from a year earlier, while food and beverage sales increased 2.8 percent. At grocery stores, sales rose 2.9 percent from January 2012.

A few categories saw declining sales. Healthcare and personal care store sales dropped 0.9 percent from January 2012 to January 2013. Department store sales were down 0.6 percent in the same period. General merchandise sales dropped 1 percent January-to-January.

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