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March 22, 2013 at 6:19 PM   |   Comments

U.S. stock indexes end week on rebound

NEW YORK, March 22 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes rebounded Friday, with reports from Nike and Tiffany boosting confidence despite uncertainty over a bailout for Cyprus.

Nike reported higher-than expected fourth quarter sales. Earnings at Tiffany beat expectations and the luxury jeweler projected rising revenue for 2013, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The reports overshadowed worries that Cyprus wouldn't meet the Monday deadline imposed by the European Central Bank for Cyprus to work out a deal to secure a $13 billion international loan to keep its banks in business.

By close of trading Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 90.54 points, or 0.63 percent, to 14,512.03. The Nasdaq added 22.40 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,245. The Standard and Poor's 500 gained 11.09 points, or 0.72 percent, to 1,556.89. On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,910 stocks advanced and 1,095 declined on a volume of 2.9 billion shares traded.

Ten-year U.S. treasury bond fell 4/32 to yield 1.931 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro was at $1.2988 from Thursday's $1.2899. Against the yen, the dollar was lower at 94.51 yen from 94.91 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index shed 2.35 percent, 297.16 points, to 12,338.53.

In London, the FTSE 100 index rose 0.07 percent, 4.21 points, 6,392.76.


PepsiCo puts a twist in its bottle

PURCHASE, N.Y., March 22 (UPI) -- U.S. soda giant PepsiCo Inc. says it is overhauling the look of its 16- and 20-ounce bottles, including a new corkscrew-style twist at the bottom of the bottle.

The top of the bottle to be released in April will have a label with a larger version of Pepsi's familiar red, white and blue circular logo, which is not being changed, Ad Age reported Friday.

Pepsi plans to introduce the new bottle -- which borrows the twist concept from older Pepsi drinking glasses -- with 16-ounce bottles and then expand on that throughout the brand.

About half of the country will have the new bottles on store shelves by the end of the year, the company said.

"We started with single serve, because it is the package you're seen drinking and holding," said Angelique Krembs, vice president of marketing for the Pepsi trademark.

"The longer-term view is this new design system would eventually hit all touch points beyond packaging, to be honest, but certainly all other package types, as it applies," Krembs said.

It is the first time in 16 years that Pepsi has changed bottle shapes, although it changed its logo in 2008.

In part, the company is trying to unify its marketing approach around the theme, "capturing the excitement of now."

"It's not uniform, it's a little asymmetrical, there's a little edginess and playfulness, which is consistent with Pepsi's equities and youthful spirit," Krembs said.


Insurance companies warn of premium hikes

WASHINGTON, March 22 (UPI) -- Insurers are telling brokers some healthcare premiums will rise in 2014 even though U.S. officials project lower rates overall under the Affordable Care Act.

The Department of Health and Human Services has projected lower premiums, along with an increase in the number of people with health insurance in the individual market -- from 15 million in 2011 to 35 million by 2016.

The cost estimates are based on a 2009 report by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

HHS says several factors, including competition among insurers, should help push premiums lower.

Some insurance companies have a different message.

They say rates will go up for many when major features of the healthcare reform law take effect in 2014, the newspaper said.

John Lacy, vice president of group benefits at the Clearwater, Fla., broker Bouchard Insurance, told the Journal insurers are advising brokers to "brace our clients" in advance of higher premiums.

UnitedHealth Group has said some rates for small businesses could rise 50 percent while rates for individuals could rise 116 percent, the Journal reported. Aetna Inc. told its national broker advisory council last fall rates for some individual plans would rise 55 percent on average while premiums for small businesses would increase 29 percent. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina told insurance brokers last week premiums on individual plans could rise 50 percent.

The ACA provides federal subsidies for lower-income people but those numbers are not reflected in insurers' projections on premiums, the newspaper said. Some consumers and businesses can expect lower premiums under the law, analysts say.

Insurance companies are expected to file proposed prices with regulators within the next few months, the Journal said.


Gold, silver slip Friday

NEW YORK, March 22 (UPI) -- The price for an ounce of gold shed $7.90 -- 0.48 percent -- and settled at $1,606.10 Friday on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Silver shed 45 cents, or 1.7 percent, and closed at $28.70 an ounce.

The dollar index fell 0.59 percent to 82.38 on the International Exchange.

Against the dollar, the euro was at $1.2988 from Thursday's $1.2899. Against the yen, the dollar was lower at 94.51 yen from 96.91 yen.

The British pound rose to $1.5229 from $1.5172. The dollar fell to 1.023 Canadian dollars from 1.0249 Canadian.

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