UPI NewsTrack Business

Nov. 16, 2012 at 6:25 PM
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Bargain hunters give stocks a boost

NEW YORK, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. stock markets closed higher Friday, with investors bucking a downward trend that had persisted since the Nov. 6 election.

Markets started lower, heading for a seventh day of losses out of the past eight trading sessions. Things turned around in early afternoon trading after congressional negotiators expressed optimism after talks at the White House about the prospects of resolving the so-called fiscal cliff.

Between Election Day and Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average had given up 4.5 percent, or 594 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 is off 4.65 percent or 66 points since voters went to the polls. Similarly, the Nasdaq index has lost 5.6 percent or 168 points since the election.

Gains held Friday for only the second positive session since the election.

By close of trading, the DJIA added 45.93 points or 0.37 percent to 12,588.31. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index gained 16.19 points or 0.57 percent to 2,853.13. The S&P 500 tacked on 6.55 points or 0.48 percent to 1,359.88.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 2,287 stocks advanced and 800 declined on a volume of 4 billion shares traded.

The benchmark 10-year treasury rose 5/32 to yield 1.579 percent. Before polls opened Nov. 6, 10-year notes were yielding 1.689 percent.

The euro fell to $1.2743 from Thursday's $1.2782. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 81.31 from 81.17 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index gained 2.2 percent, 194.44 points, to 9,024.16.

In London, the FTSE 100 index shed 1.27 percent, 72.16 points, to 5,605.59.

Business urged to embrace social media

ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. businesses are in denial about social media, considering it a fad, or just another version of the Internet, a human resources professional group said.

Seventy-two percent of businesses don't have a clear strategy or goals for incorporating social media into their operations, the study by the Society of Human Resource Management, based in Alexandria, Va., said.

One of the main reasons why businesses haven't pursued a social media strategy is lack of data tied to return on investment, said Rob Ployhart of the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

In a report released in October by the SHRM, Ployhart offered guidance for business executives struggling with the issue.

"There is a lot of hype that goes along with technology," Ployhart said. "After doing this review, I'm convinced that social media is radically different and that existing theories about communications can't be applied the same way.

"It puts incredible power in the hands of employees and customers. One person sharing on social media is more powerful than 50 or more people saying it."

Companies should look at social media from a strategic perspective across the entire business organization, he said.

"Usually people think about social media from the employee issue part of it -- for disciplinary, firing and hiring -- by establishing social media policies for what employees can and can't do. They're not looking at it from 'how can I use this to drive results for my business?'" Ployhart said.

"In today's world, we are all interconnected. Companies that are thinking about this proactively are the ones that are probably going to have an advantage in leveraging this technology."

Minnesota refinery slated for upgrade

ROSEMOUNT, Minn., Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Oil processing giant Flint Hills Resources said it would invest $400 million in upgrades that will increase capacity at its Pine Bend Refinery in Minnesota.

"This is a continuation of our efforts to make sure that this is a safe, clean, reliable refinery that is able to meet demand," Jake Reint, Flint Hills' director of public affairs told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The Tribune reported Friday the refinery is already the nation's 14th largest with a current processing limit of 320,000 barrels of oil per day.

For the past five years, the plant has been operating between 82 percent and 90 percent of its capacity, the Star Tribune reported.

The upgrades are expected to create 500 construction jobs on top of the 400 to 2,000 contracted employees who work at the refinery on and off and the 950 permanent workers at the plant.

With the extra jobs, there "will be a lot of folks getting fed for the next two or three years out there," said Harry Melander, president of the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council.

Flint Hills director of public affairs Jake Reint said the aim was to create a "safe, clean reliable refinery that is able to meet demand."

He also said the upgrade was not determined by the increased production of oil in Canada and North Dakota -- although that doesn't hurt, either.

"There is no doubt that having access to a stable crude oil supply is vital. We are geographically blessed as a state to have access to that," he said.

Black Ops 2 takes $500 million in 24 hours

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Black Ops 2, the latest entry in the Call of Duty video game franchise, took in $500 million in sales globally in its first 24 hours of release, its maker says.

"With first day sales of over half-a-billion dollars worldwide, we believe Call of Duty is the biggest entertainment launch of the year for the fourth year in a row," Bobby Kotick, chief executive officer of Activision Blizzard, said in a statement Friday.

Millions of fans lined up for more than 16,000 midnight openings at retail stores around the world to be among the first to grab a copy of the game, PC Magazine reported, and the game's launch trailer has garnered more than 30 million YouTube views since its release on Oct. 29.

"Life-to-date sales for the Call of Duty franchise have exceeded worldwide theatrical box office receipts for Harry Potter and Star Wars, the two most successful movie franchises of all time," Kotick said.

November has been a good month for video game franchises, as the recently released Halo 4 racked up $220 million in sales in its first 24 hours, PC Magazine said.

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