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Jan. 11, 2013 at 6:09 PM
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U.S. stock indexes mixed

NEW YORK, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes were mixed Friday after the U.S. Commerce Department said the trade gap rose in November.

The U.S. trade increased from $42.1 billion in October to $48.7 billion, with the gain in imports, up $8.4 billion, far outpacing the month's $1.7 billion gain in exports.

By close of trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 17.21 points or 0.13 percent to 13,488.43. The Nasdaq composite added 3.88 points or 0.12 percent to 3,125.63. The Standard and Poor's 500 shed 0.07 points or less than 0.01 percent to 1,472.05.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,579 stocks advanced and 1,441 declined on a volume of 3.3 billion shares traded.

The 10-year treasury note rose 9/32 to yield 1.871 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro rose to $1.3343 from Thursday's $1.3269. The dollar was higher at 89.19 yen from 88.78 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index added 1.4 percent or 148.93 points to 10,801.57.

In London, the FTSE 100 index added 0.33 percent, 20.07 points, to 6,121.58.

China could exceed 2012 growth target

BEIJING, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- A high-ranking official in China said the country's economic growth may have exceeded government expectations in 2012.

Growth for 2012 is expected to be 7.7 percent, beating the government forecast by 0.2 percentage points, said National Development and Reform Commission deputy minister Zhang Xiaoqiang this week.

China's official news agency Xinhua said Friday that factory production, investment and trade have recently improved, pushing the gross domestic product figure higher.

The official estimate of the country's GDP, released by the National Bureau of Statistics, is due next week.

The Chinese government took a cautious approach to adding fresh economic stimulus in the economy in 2012, fearing too much stimulus would trigger inflation.

Zhang predicted the inflation rate for the year would be close to 3.5 percent.

The government set an annual target of 8 percent but lowered that in March with the understanding that the global economy wasn't as supportive as it needed to be to hit 8 percent growth.

It was the first time in eight years the government set its growth target at less than 8 percent, Xinhua said.

Boom in online shopping seen for Russia

MOSCOW, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- U.S. analysts say Russia will experience a boom in online shopping in 2013, with activity reaching $40 billion by 2015.

U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley said last year's market volume for e-commerce in Russia stood at $12 billion, which could increase drastically in 2013 thanks to increased Internet access, The Voice of Russia reported Friday.

Ilya Rachenkov, an analyst in Moscow, said he agrees with the reasons to expect a significant increase in online shopping in Russia.

"First and foremost, this year will see further growth in broadband Internet access in Russia, where the number of Internet users is almost certain to increase," he said. "Another factor is the spread of online banking and electronic payment systems, including Yandex Money and many others."

Yandex is Russia's leading Internet search engine.

Brick-and-mortar shopping business will gradually transfer to the Internet to reduce expenses, financial experts said.

"Online shopping will contribute to enhancing the consumer retail market due to the fact that as compared to traditional trade, online one can introduce a lot more goods to be purchased by customers all across Russia," investment banker and economist Sergei Khestanov said.

Ford, GM to expand salaried staff

DEARBORN, Mich., Jan. 11 (UPI) -- U.S. automakers Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. have said they will require additional salaried workers this year and plan to add about 3,000 new jobs.

Ford has said it would hire 2,200 white-collar workers in 2012, the biggest boost to its salaried staff in more than a decade, The Detroit News reported Friday.

GM is expecting to hire 1,000 salaried workers this year, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Ford has said it would invest $773 million in plants in southeast Michigan, where the bulk of its new jobs would be created, the News said.

"As we expand our product lineup of fuel-efficient vehicles, we need more people in critical areas -- such as in a range of engineering activities, vehicle production, computer software and other IT functions," said Ford Executive Vice President Joe Hinrichs.

Ford will announces its fourth quarter earnings in February, but signs suggest it was a positive year for the company -- which lost tens of thousands of jobs during the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 and through the prolonged recession that followed that.

Ford gave salaried workers raises and bonuses in 2012 for the first time since 2008 and recently announced it would double its dividend to 10 cents per share.

Ford's latest contract with the United Auto Workers calls for hiring 12,000 hourly workers by 2015. Hourly workers in 2012 received an average profit-sharing bonus of $5,000 and another bonus is expected this spring.

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