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May 10, 2012 at 6:48 PM
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Markets close mixed

NEW YORK, May 10 (UPI) -- Stocks on Wall Street closed mixed Thursday with the Dow Jones industrial average up 64 points after a six-day slump.

Markets were mixed in Asia, but higher across Europe, giving markets some traction in New York despite a government report that said the U.S. trade deficit rose from $45.4 billion to $51.8 billion in March.

By close of trading, the DJIA gained 19.98 points, or 0.16 percent, to 12,855.04, ending a six-day losing streak. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index lost 1.07 points, or 0.04 percent, to 2,933.64. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 3.41 points, or 0.25 percent, to 1,357.99.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,894 stocks advanced and 1,127 declined on a volume of 3.5 billion shares traded.

The 10-year benchmark treasury note rose 3/32 to yield 1.865 percent.

The euro rose to $1.2934 from Wednesday's $1.293. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 79.92 yen from 79.63 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index lost 35.41 percent, 0.39, to 9,009.65.

In London, the FTSE 100 index gained 0.25 percent, 13.90, to 5,543.95.

Vacation plans intact despite gas prices

BETHESDA, Md., May 10 (UPI) -- Many U.S. vacationers indicate gas prices have a long way to climb before they will interfere with summer travel plans, a privately funded study found.

The survey conducted by research firm TNS on behalf of SpringHill Suites found 72 percent of respondents indicated gasoline prices would have to hit $4.80 per gallon for them to consider changing their vacation plans.

Eighty-four percent of respondents indicated they had not altered their summer travel plans due to gasoline prices, the survey found.

Of the 16 percent who indicated they had changed their plans, 9 percent indicated they had changed their destination, while 7 percent indicated they had changed their mode of transportation.

A majority of respondents -- 74 percent -- indicated they would still use social media Web sites while on vacation, with 27 percent indicating they would check out the sites as much or more than they would while they were at home.

About half -- 47 percent -- indicated they would read work-related e-mails while on vacation, the survey found.

The online survey included 1,000 responses between March 13 and March 18. Researchers said with 95 percent confidence, the results are accurate within plus or minus 2.1 percent.

Microsoft gives Bing a facelift

BELLEVUE, Wash., May 10 (UPI) -- U.S. technology giant Microsoft said its online Bing search engine has gotten a face lift with help from Facebook.

Microsoft said it had redesigned the search engine to incorporate more data from the world's largest social network Web site, but without the clutter of previous attempts to do so, The New York Times reported Thursday.

In an initial phase of the integration of searches and Facebook, Microsoft had results of the search annotated so the listing also showed if any of the friends of the searcher had indicated on Facebook they "liked" the Web pages the search turned up.

The new design has Facebook information -- only concerning friends and only from pages that are accessible to the public -- tucked away in a sidebar.

The first attempt was "a good experiment," Derrick Connell, a corporate vice president of Bing program management, told the Times.

The new design, "very elegantly incorporated a lot of information into the search results page, which is a formidable challenge," said Rebecca Lieb, an industry analyst at the Altimeter Group.

The battle front is, of course, for market share -- more searches means the potential for more advertising revenue.

Microsoft's share of searches in the United States rose from 13.9 percent to 15.3 percent from March 2011 to March 2012. Google dominates with a 66.4 percent share, comScore reported.

Microsoft is looking for brand identity that will help turn Bing around. Bing designers, said Qi Lu, president of Microsoft's online services division, needed to answer the question, "Why Bing?"

Bing was launched in 2009. In Microsoft's last fiscal year, Microsoft's online services lost $2.6 billion, the Times reported.

Lending still 'tight' says Bernanke

WASHINGTON, May 10 (UPI) -- U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said lending conditions remained "tight," but it would be unwise to return to precrisis lending standards.

In a prepared text for the 48th Annual Conference on Bank Structure and Competition in Chicago, Bernanke said, "Tight lending standards and terms remain especially evident."

In a speech delivered to the conference by satellite, Bernanke said "to be sure, a return to precrisis lending standards for residential mortgages wouldn't be appropriate."

"Some types of borrowers remain tight," he said, pointing to mortgage lending as "an important example."

Tighter lending is holding back some small businesses, he said, as small business owners frequently take out home equity loans to get their businesses through a rough patch or to make necessary investments.

Although not back to normal levels, "these loans looked to have ticked up in the fourth quarter of 2011," he said.

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