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June 8, 2012 at 1:14 PM
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U.S. markets erase early losses

NEW YORK, June 8 (UPI) -- Early losses evaporated in U.S. stock markets Friday in early afternoon trading.

Skepticism set in early as the Commerce Department reported the trade deficit fell only slightly in March to April, dropping from $52.6 billion to $50.1 billion.

Investors were also focused on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's remarks Thursday in which he failed to commit the central bank to any new round of stimulus measures.

But markets picked up steam after President Barack Obama suggested recapitalizing banks in Europe in a morning news conference.

The president called Europe's financial crisis "solvable."

After dropping 20 points, the Dow Jones industrial average added 62.13 points, or 0.5 percent, to 12,523.09. The Standard & Poor's 500 gained 6.61 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,321.60. The Nasdaq Composite index added 16.80 points, or 0.67 percent, to 2,849.98.

The benchmark 10-year treasury note rose 5/32 to yield 1.625 percent.

The euro fell to $1.2499 from Thursday's $1.2561. Against the yen, the dollar fell to 79.46 from 79.45 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index dropped 2.09 percent, 180.46 points, to 8,459.26.

In London, the FTSE 100 index lost 0.23 percent, 12.71 points, to 5,435.08.

U.S. trade deficit narrows slightly

WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. trade deficit dropped slightly from March to April, from $2.5 billion to $50.1 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau said Friday.

The trade gap declined for the second time in a six-month span as exports reached $182.9 billion and imports hit $233 billion.

Imports, which declined, included a $2 billion scale-back in capital goods and lesser declines in industrial supplies, consumer goods and automobiles and auto parts.

Exports, which also decreased, included a $1.5 billion drop in capital goods and a $1 billion decline in industrial supplies and materials.

In April, exports of services fell by $100 million while imports of services rose by the same amount, creating a $200 million total setback.

Among major trading partners, the U.S. deficit with China rose by $2.9 billion to $24.6 billion. The deficit with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries rose by $2.4 billion to $11.5 billion.

Canada's jobless rate stays at 7.3 percent

OTTAWA, June 8 (UPI) -- Canada's unemployment rate was unchanged in May at 7.3 percent, with employment gains in some sectors offset by losses in others, Statistics Canada reported.

"Employment for the month increased in manufacturing, educational services, retail and wholesale trade and agriculture," the agency said. "At the same time, information, culture and recreation as well as construction showed declines."

On an annual basis, 203,000 more people were employed, which was a 1.2 percent gain. Of them, 192,000 were employed full-time, the report said.

By province, Alberta had the lowest unemployment rate of 4.5 percent. New Brunswick posted a 9.4 percent jobless rate while both Ontario and Quebec were higher than the national average at 7.8 percent, StatsCan said.

Chesapeake Energy sell assets for $4B

OKLAHOMA CITY, June 8 (UPI) -- U.S. natural gas giant Chesapeake Midstream Partners said Friday it would unload assets worth $4 billion in a deal with Global Infrastructure Partners.

Global Infrastructure has agreed to buy all of Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s interest in CHKM for $2 billion. In addition, Global Infrastructure has signed a letter of agreement to buy midstream assets from Chesapeake Midstream Development, the parent firm's wholly owned midstream subsidiary.

In a separate announcement, the energy giant said directors V. Burns Hargis and Richard Davidson each received about 26 percent support in a shareholder vote and would, consequently resign from the board, "as required by the company's new majority voting bylaw."

That bylaw was granted "effective immediately," on Friday, after receiving 97 percent of the votes cast in a shareholder election with the board superseding the point that the 97 percent only represented 64 percent of the company's shares.

The 64 percent of share representation "was less than the two-thirds required for shareholder approval of a bylaw amendment," the firm said.

The board, however, took it upon themselves to permit the bylaw to become policy.

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