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Dec. 19, 2012 at 6:21 PM
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Stocks drop Wednesday

NEW YORK, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes dropped Wednesday after the Commerce Department said housing starts fell 3 percent October to November.

The report was issued a day after the National Association of Home Builders said business confidence among builders had risen for the eighth consecutive month in December.

General Motors stock bucked the trend. The Treasury Department said it would sell its 500.1 million shares of GM, including a sale of 200 million shares by the end of the year to GM for $27.50 per share.

GM stock shot up 6.6 percent to $27.18.

By close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 98.99 points or 0.74 percent to 13,251.97. The Standard and Poor's 500 was off 10.98 points or 0.76 percent to 1,435.81. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite shed 10.17 points or 0.33 percent to 3,044.36.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,509 stocks advanced and 1,533 declined on a volume of 3.8 billion shares traded.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index soared, adding 237.39 points, 2.39 percent, to 10,060.40.

In London, the FTSE 100 index added 0.43 percent, 25.69 points, to 5,961.59.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose 5/32 to yield 1.806 percent.

The dollar rose to 84.36 yen, up from Tuesday's 84.2 yen. The euro fell to $1.3226 from Tuesday's $1.3229.

Kodak patents fetch $525 million

ROCHESTER, N.D., Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Bankrupt U.S. photography firm Kodak said it had sold its digital imaging patents to a consortium of firms for $525 million.

NBC News reported Wednesday that the consortium included technology heavy-weights Google Inc., Apple Inc., Fujifilm Corp., Research in Motion Limited, Facebook Inc., Samsung Electronics Co, and six other firms.

The sale is seen as a critical step in funding Kodak's ascension from bankruptcy, where it has been since January. However, the sale fell far short of the $2.6 billion Kodak had set as a target for the 1,100 patents.

By forming a consortium, the buyers were able to prevent a bidding war from driving the price higher.

Kodak's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Antonio Perez still called the sale a success.

"This monetization of patents is another major milestone toward successful emergence," Perez said.

The sale is subject to court approval.

Zuckerberg donates $500 million

SAN MATEO, Calif., Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced he has given $500 million to a non-profit donation fund to help improve health and education.

Zuckerberg gave the donation to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation of San Mateo, Calif., which advises donors in allocating funds according to the donors' interests, CNNMoney reported Tuesday.

The amount is the largest the foundation has ever received, CNNMoney reported.

Zuckerberg donated 18 million Facebook shares, the Tuesday's closing price of which was $27.71 per share and amounted to $498 million, CNNMoney said.

Zuckerberg, who posted the announcement of the gift on Facebook, said he and Priscilla Chan, his wife, pledged to donate $100 million worth of Facebook shares to help improve Newark, N.J.'s public education. The donation was made according to the couples' participation in the Giving Pledge, a program initiated by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates to encourage billionaires to give most of their money to worthy causes, CNNMoney reported.

"I'm hopeful we'll be able to have as positive an impact in our next set of projects," Zuckerberg said.

Egypt cigarette worker strike ends

GIZA, Egypt, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Workers in Egyptian cigarette factories are back on the job after a two-day strike ended when the government-backed monopoly met their demands.

Management at Eastern Co., owned by the Government Holding Co. for Food Industries, agreed to pay striking workers bonuses owed them over the last 42 months and pay for meal allowances, al-Masry al-Youm said Wednesday.

Workers staged a mass sit-in in front of the factory in Giza, Egypt, and closed down a street for two days. They credited Investment Minister Osama Saleh for intervening and agreed to work extra shifts to make up for the two-day stoppage.

Profits at Eastern Co. were 165 million Egyptian pounds ($26.7 million) so far this year, up from 121 million Egyptian pounds last year.

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