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March 6, 2013 at 6:36 PM   |   0 comments

DJIA establishes a new peak

NEW YORK, March 6 (UPI) -- The Dow Jones industrial average hit an all-time closing high for a second straight day Wednesday, with investors wondering how long the winning run can last.

The index gained 42.47 points or 0.3 percent to close at 14,296.24.

"The market has momentum," said Russ Koesterich, global chief investment strategist at asset managing firm BlackRock Inc. "I think we go higher until you have an event that suggests things aren't as rosy as people think."

"There is this new found courage," said Erik Davidson, deputy chief investment officer of Wells Fargo Private Bank.

He told The Wall Street Journal the economy "is a lot less worse than people had feared."

Payroll firm Automatic Data Processing Inc. said Wednesday the economy added 198,000 private sector jobs in February -- the smallest gain in the past four months, but about 28,000 more than economists had predicted.

By close of trading Wednesday, the Standard and Poor's 500 index added 1.67 points or 0.11 percent to 1,541.46. The Nasdaq composite shed 1.77 points or 0.05 percent to 3,222.37.

On the New York Stock Exchange, there were 1,700 gainers and 1,347 stocks that lost ground, with 3.6 billion shares traded.

The 10-year U.S. treasury note fell 12/32 to yield 1.944 percent.

Against the dollar the euro was lower at $1.2975 from Tuesday's $1.3051. Against the yen, the dollar was higher at 94.09 yen from 93.29 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 rose 2.13 percent on a gain of 248.82 points, to 11,932.27.

In London, the FTSE 100 index shed 0.07 percent, 4.31 points, to 6,427.64.


Par pleads guilty to off-label marketing

NEWARK, N.J., March 6 (UPI) -- U.S. drug maker Par Pharmaceutical has pleaded guilty to marketing a drug it developed for AIDS patients to an unapproved audience -- the elderly.

The drug, Megace ES, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration to combat "wasting" or dangerous weight loss that occurred with AIDS victims, the (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger reported Wednesday.

In 2005, just as its research and development investment in the drug was about to come to fruition, however, other treatment approaches beat Par Pharmaceutical to the punch and projected sales of the drug were lowered dramatically, the newspaper reported.

To recoup its investment, the drug maker began marketing Megace ES to combat weight loss among geriatric patients, even though that use was not approved, prosecutors said.

After a dragged out legal dispute, Par threw in the towel Wednesday, signing off on a deal that includes a $45 million payment to settle the case concerning a drug that netted the company $11 million.

The company will be subject to vigorous scrutiny by the Department of Health and Human Services for the next five years, the newspaper said.

In the deal, the company executives will have to forfeit bonus pay if future malfeasance is discovered.

Company sales representatives are banned from receiving "incentive compensation" for sales of the drug or from any spinoff product, the newspaper said.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, said there were no known cases of harm the drug may have caused the elderly, but that was "not a risk that we should have to run."

Timothy McInnis, an attorney for two former company sales representatives, Michael McKeen and Courtney Combs, said in a statement his clients would split $4.4 million of the settlement earmarked for whistle-blowers.


U.S. factory orders slide in January

WASHINGTON, March 6 (UPI) -- Factory orders for U.S. manufactured goods dropped 2 percent in January, not quite as much as economists predicted, the U.S. Census Bureau said Wednesday.

New orders declined $9.6 billion to $472.9 billion. Economists had predicted a drop of 2.2 percent.

Factory orders have dropped two of the past three months.

In January, excluding transportation items, orders rose 1.3 percent, indicating the decline isn't as broad as it might appear.

Transportation items are big-ticket purchases, including trucks, trains, ships and planes. A pullback in those items isn't always indicative of a general decline. In addition, the price of these items makes the category unduly influential over the rest of the data.

New orders for transportation items, down three of the past four months, fell 19.8 percent in January, a $14.8 billion decline to $59.6 billion.

The Census Bureau News said factory inventories, up for the second consecutive month, rose 0.5 percent or $3.2 billion to $618.4 billion.

Inventories of durable goods, up for 15 of the past 16 months, rose 0.2 percent to $375 billion. Inventories of non-durable goods, which are goods not expected to last for three years, rose 1 percent to $243.4 billion.


In Lebanon, teachers strike ongoing

BEIRUT, Lebanon, March 6 (UPI) -- A union leader in Beirut Wednesday told striking teachers the strike would go on until the Cabinet forwarded a wage hike measure to the country's Parliament.

"The battle of the public sector will not be deterred one iota," until demands are met, The Beirut Daily Star quoted Hanna Gharib, head of the Union Coordination Committee as saying at a downtown rally.

Two days before a national day of recognition for teachers, Gharib said the teachers would not go home until the wage issue was resolved.

There was at least one other rally being held Wednesday -- in Tripoli in North Lebanon -- the newspaper said.

The strike, considered an open-ended work action, began Feb. 19.

The government under Prime Minister Najib Mikati has said it does not know where the money would come from to give teachers a raise.

The government "refuse(s) to finance the salary scale from (revenues) from (coastal properties) or from corruption," Gharib said.

"Coastal property belongs to you, citizens. Reclaim this property," he said in a rally speech.

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