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Jan. 26, 2009 at 5:21 PM
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U.S. markets gain slightly Monday

NEW YORK, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. markets made slight gains Monday on mixed corporate news from Pfizer and Caterpillar Inc.

Pfizer, the world's largest drugmaker, announced it reached a $68 billion agreement to merge with Wyeth. But the company also said it would lay off 10 percent of its workforce after fourth-quarter income dropped 90 percent.

Caterpillar said it was cutting 20,000 jobs. Home Depot said it would eliminate 7,000 positions and drop 34 locations.

By close, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 38.47 points or 0.48 percent to 8,116.03. The Standard & Poor's 500 gained 4.62 or 0.56 percent to 836.57. The Nasdaq composite index gained 12.17 or 0.82 percent to 1,489.46.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,983 stock advanced and 1,076 declined on a volume of 6.7 billion shares traded.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury bond fell 8/32 to yield 2.639 percent.

The dollar was mixed Monday. The euro rose to $1.3182, compared to Friday's $1.2985. Against the Japanese yen, the dollar rose to 89.93 yen, up from Friday's 88.85 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei average lost 63.11 points to 7,682.14, down 0.81 percent.

In London, the FTSE 100 index gained 156.54 points, 3.86 percent, to 4,209.01.

Big Apple electric rates skyscraper high

NEW YORK, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Con Edison of New York charges customers more than twice the national average for electricity, a federal study said.

The same 300 kilowatt-hours of electricity that would cost $65 in New York costs $27 in Franklin, Neb., the New York Post reported Monday.

Con Ed charged 21.58 cents per kilowatt-hour in New York in 2007, when the national average rate was 9.13 cents, the newspaper said.

Of the contiguous states, a few pockets of wealthy or secluded residents pay more. Some islands off the coast of Maine, and wealthy residents on Fishers Island, N.Y. and Block Island, R.I, pay high rates, the Post said.

New York City rates are also topped by rates in Hawaii and secluded areas of Alaska, the report said.

Home Depot to close stores, cut 7,000 jobs

ATLANTA, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Home Depot Inc. said Monday it would close 48 locations and lay off 7,000 U.S. workers as a reaction to the economic environment.

The retailer said the move would not impact floor-staff who deal with customers at stores that remain open. However, at its continuing locations, reductions are planned for 10 percent of its managerial staff, about 2,000 jobs, American City Business Journals reported Monday.

Home Depot cut 500 jobs a year ago and closed 15 stores at the cost of 1,300 jobs last May. With Monday's announcement, the company said it would close its 34 EXPO Design Centers, five YardBirds stores, two Design Center outlets and seven Home Depot outlets.

The EXPO Design business, focused on interior design projects, "has not performed well financially and is not expected to anytime soon," the company said.

"Even during the recent housing boom, it was not a strong business," the company said.

Sober economic forum expected

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- The 39th World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is likely to find participants in a sober mood this week, one participant said.

"We're at an unbelievably critical juncture in the global economy debate," said Stephen Roach, chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia. "This will not be a normal year at Davos."

Leaders scheduled to appear at the forum, titled "Shaping the Post-Crisis World," include Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

"There will be lots of discussions behind the scenes and lots of cross-checking: 'What are you seeing in your place?', 'What is working?'" said Mark Spelman, head of global strategy at Accenture.," The Daily Telegraph reported Monday.

U.S. President Barack Obama is not expected to attend, but the U.S. delegation will include his choice for Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, and Lawrence Summers, director of the National Economic Council.

The forum begins Wednesday.

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