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Jan. 3, 2013 at 2:03 PM
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Markets turnaround Thursday

NEW YORK, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. markets slumped early, then turned around Thursday, as the rally supported by the end of the fiscal cliff fears appears to slowed.

In early afternoon trading, after two sessions of sharp gains, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.12 percent, or 15.44 points, to 13,427.99. The Nasdaq added 4.68 points, or 0.15 percent, to 3,116.94. The Standard and Poor's added 2.84 points, 0.19 percent, to 1,465.26.

Stocks gained momentum after Automatic Data Processing Inc. said 215,000 private sector jobs were added to the economy in December, far more than economists had predicted.

The 10-year treasury note was off 6/32 to yield 1.862 percent.

The euro fell to $1.311 from Wednesday's $1.3185. The dollar fell to 87.08 yen from 87.34 yen.

In London, the FTSE 100 index gained 0.33 percent, 19.97, to 6,047.34.

Markets in Japan were closed.

2012 job cuts lowest total since 1997

CHICAGO, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. layoff announcements dropped in December, giving 2012 the lowest annual total since 1997, a private outplacement firm said Thursday.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas said there were 523,362 job cuts announced during the year, the lowest in 15 years, when 434,350 job cuts were announced.

The firm said there were 32,556 layoffs announced in December, the second lowest monthly total for the year.

The relatively low total follows November's 57,081 layoffs announcements, which was the second highest monthly total for 2012.

In December, announced job cuts dropped 43 percent from month to month, falling after three consecutive months of increases. The month's total was also 22 percent lower than the same month of 2011.

"The overall pace of downsizing was at its slowest since the end of the recession. In fact, we have not seen this level of job cutting since before the dot.com collapse and subsequent 2001 recession," said Chief Executive Officer John Challenger.

December's figure was bumped up considerably by one firm, Citigroup, which announced it would cut 11,000 jobs.

For the year, the computer industry cut the most jobs of any industry sector with 46,164 job cuts announced, but that figure was also skewed by one employer, Hewlett-Packard which said in May it would cut 27,000 jobs.

Google exec to travel to North Korea

PYONGYANG, North Korea, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- It is unclear if North Korean officials will meet with Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt during his planned visit, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Schmidt plans to join Bill Richardson, former ambassador to the United Nations and ex-governor of New Mexico, in an unofficial U.S. delegation scheduled to travel to Pyongyang this month, a source, whose name was not reported, told the newspaper

Schmidt will be the highest-profile U.S. business executive to visit the reclusive Asian country in several years, the Journal reported Thursday.

North Korea provides its people with very limited access to the global Internet. North Korean businesses and the government operate 10 websites, the newspaper said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in his New Year's Day address, stressed the importance of scientific and technological advances in business and education.

"The industrial revolution in the new century is, in essence, a scientific and technological revolution, and breaking through the cutting edge is a shortcut to the building of an economic giant," he said.

Big Apple business activity expands

NEW YORK, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- A barometer of New York City business activity reached a five-month high in December, the Institute for Supply Management said Thursday.

The headline index measuring current business conditions came in at 54.3 in the month, up from 52.5 in November. The six-month outlook index dropped however, from 75.3 to 67.6, a correction after a post-Hurricane Sandy surge, the report said.

The index for the number of employees dropped from 51.6 to 47.6, an 11-month low, while the revenues index rose from 45.8 to 55.3.

The indexes indicate growth with numbers above 50 and contraction with numbers below 50.

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