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Nov. 12, 2012 at 2:23 PM
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Markets treading water Monday

NEW YORK, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes were in the red Monday, but not making much headway.

In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 23.21 points, 0.18 percent, at 12,838.60.

The Nasdaq picked up 4.50 points, 0.15 percent, to 2,909.37.

The Standard and Poor's 500 gained 2.74 points, 0.2 percent, to 1,382.59.

The benchmark 10-year treasury was unchanged, yielding 1.611 percent, as the bond market was closed.

The euro rose to $1.2714 from Friday's $1.2711. Against the yen, the dollar was 79.46 from 79.40 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index lost 0.18 percent, 81.16 points, to 8,676.44.

In London, the FTSE 100 index lost 0.04 percent, 2.41, to 5,767.27.

Because of the Veterans Day holiday, no government reports on the economy were issued.

Officials: New Greece tranche delay likely

BRUSSELS, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Eurozone finance ministers were unlikely to approve a $40 billion payment to Greece Monday because Greece's path to sustainability was unclear, officials said.

A delay at the Brussels meeting, on top of months of other delays, would come a day after the Greek Parliament voted to approve a 2013 budget that activates a $17 billion austerity package Greece's fragile coalition government approved last week in an effort to win the critical bailout funds.

Greece says it needs the bailout money this month or it could go bankrupt. Bankruptcy could force Greece to leave the 17-nation eurozone and threaten the viability of the currency, economists say.

The budget, which provoked angry protests among Greeks, includes sharp cuts to pensions, salaries and social services, as well as tax increases and raising the retirement age from 65 to 67. It also makes it easier to fire and transfer civil servants who, until now, were guaranteed jobs for life.

Greece's unemployment rate is more than 25 percent.

Athens says the cutbacks will contribute to a 4.5 percent contraction in 2013, but many economists argue the damage could be much greater.

Greece has made "enormous efforts" to implement the austerity and reform measures needed to get its next bailout installment, a eurozone official told The New York Times ahead of the finance ministers' meeting, but "there is a very, very high degree of plausibility that there will need to be a second round of discussions in order to finalize everything."

The ministers Monday were expected to review a draft report on the Greek economy from the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank.

Baskin-Robbins helps vets own franchises

CANTON, Mass., Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Baskin-Robbins, a chain of ice cream specialty shops, said it would waive the initial franchise fee of $25,000 for certain honorably discharged U.S. veterans.

Bill Mitchell, senior vice president and brand officer of Baskin-Robbins, said the new incentive program supports U.S. military veterans seeking to open a Baskin-Robbins franchise in California, Florida and select markets across the United States.

"Having served as an officer in the U.S. Army, I know first-hand the importance of supporting our troops as they transition back to civilian life," Mitchell said in a statement. "As part of our brand's commitment to veterans, we are very excited to begin a new veteran franchise incentive program and hope to make someone's dream of owning their own business a reality."

The program is offered to qualified veterans interested in developing Baskin-Robbins restaurants. In addition to waiving the entire initial franchise fee, normally $25,000, the chain created a financing program specifically designed to assist new and existing franchisees to develop new restaurants, Mitchell said.

Candidates should possess a strong financial background and passion for their local communities, Baskin-Robbins said.

Baskin-Robbins has shown to be a simple business to run with convenient hours of operation, minimal equipment, little waste and a majority of inventory that has a shelf life of one year with proper storage, Mitchell added.

IEA predicts U.S. energy self-sufficiency

LONDON, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- A leading energy research agency said the United States is headed toward energy self sufficiency and would soon become the world's largest oil producer.

The surprising 2012 World Energy Outlook produced by the International Energy Agency said the United States would surpass Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer by 2017. It also said the country would break even on oil and natural gas imports and exports by 2035.

"North American is at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production that will affect all regions of the world, yet the potential also exists for a similarly transformative shift in global energy efficiency," the agency's Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in a statement.

That means the shifts in oil flow around the world will rely on conservation as much as improved production, the agency said.

The report that was released in London said improvements in energy efficiency will allow savings the equivalent of one fifth of 2010 global demand by 2035.

"In other words, energy efficiency is just as important as unconstrained energy supply and increased action on efficiency can serve as a unifying energy policy that brings multiple benefits," van der Hoeven said.

The predictions include the United States becoming a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and "almost self-sufficient in energy in net terms by 2035."

The shifting oil flow -- the direction in which petroleum products move from country to country -- is headed in new directions. As the United States builds up its internal production of energy, 90 percent of the oil from the Middle East will be sent toward Asia, the report said.

Global demand will is expected to increase by more than one-third by 2035 with China, India and the Middle East accounting for 60 percent of the increased demand.

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