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Jan. 24, 2013 at 2:16 PM
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U.S. stocks split with Dow climbing

NEW YORK, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes were mixed Thursday in New York despite positive economic data.

The Nasdaq index of tech-oriented stock dropped 0.82 percent, or 25.85 points, to 3,127.82 in afternoon trading. The DJIA gave up early gains, but remained positive, adding 36.36 points or 0.26 percent to 13,815.69.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index shed 1.34 points or 0.09 percent to 1,493.47.

Positive data came from the Conference Board's Leading Indicator Index, which climbed 0.5 percent in December, ahead of expectations. The Labor Department said 5,000 fewer first-time unemployment benefit claims were filed in the week, adding to a drop of 37,000 in the previous week.

Marikit Economics added to the encouraging news. The research firm said the U.S. manufacturing Purchasing Manager's Index jumped in January with new orders climbing at the fastest month-to-month pace in 32 months.

The 10-year treasury note fell 7/32 to yield 1.853 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro was $1.3374 from Wednesday's $1.3318. The dollar rose against the yen, hitting 89.98 yen from 88.62 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index gained 1.28 percent, 133.88 points, to 10,620.87.

In London, the FTSE 100 index added 1.09 percent, 67.27 points, to 6,264.91.

Obama to nominate White to head SEC

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- A White House official said President Obama would nominate attorney Mary Jo White to serve as chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

White is a former federal prosecutor who litigated high profile terrorist cases, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York and the 1998 bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The official, who asked to remain anonymous, said Obama would also nominate Richard Cordray to continue as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Cordray is the interim head of the agency that was created by the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law. His initial nomination was not confirmed in part because Republicans wanted to send a message of protest concerning the creation of the CFPB, the Post said.

White would take over following the resignation of Mary Schapiro, who was charged with pulling the SEC through the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008.

Before Schapiro took over, the SEC was accused of being asleep at the wheel, missing several cues to stop infamous Ponzi scheme operator Bernard Madoff and failing to prevent abuses that contributed to the financial crisis.

The CFPB is carving its niche in the regulatory landscape. "In just the past year, Cordray and the CFPB have made remarkable progress in strengthening consumer protections," the White House official said.

The bureau has created new lending rules and initiated steps to control debt collectors, the official pointed out.

Job title squashed in worker perk poll

CHICAGO, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- A fancy title is not anywhere near the top on the list of concerns that workers indicate would keep them on the job, a survey of U.S. workers found.

If job retention is the goal, workers in a new CareerBuilder survey indicated that a flexible schedule, being able to make a difference, having challenging work and the ability to work from home were all more important that an impressive job title.

Workers also rated reimbursement for education level, having an office and a company car higher than they did a job title.

The results of the survey went along the lines of "call me anything you want, just don't call me late for dinner."

The survey also asked what perks workers felt would make the workplace more rewarding.

Half-day Fridays was named by 40 percent of the respondents as a satisfying perk, the survey found.

In addition, 20 percent indicated a fitness center at the workplace would be valuable, while 18 percent indicated wearing blue jeans would help.

Seventeen percent indicated daily catered lunches would improve their workplace. Sixteen percent indicated massages would be just the thing to make work more bearable, CareerBuilder said.

The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive. It involved 3,991 interviews with workers done between Nov. 1 and Nov 30, 2012.

The results of the survey have a margin of error of plus and minus 1.55 percentage points, a figure that has a 95 percent chance of being accurate.

Manufacturing index shows gains

NEW YORK, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- An index of U.S. manufacturing activity showed a strong improvement in January, a research firm said Thursday.

Markit Economics said the manufacturing sector's Purchasing Managers Index for the month jumped from 54 in December to 56.1 in January, indicating the "strongest expansion since March 2011," Markit's monthly report said.

The critical component index for new orders rose from 54.7 to 57.5, which was the fastest one-month improvement in nearly three years.

The index on output or production rose from 54.5 to 57.2. The employment index rose from 54.5 to 55.6.

The new export index slipped, dropping from 52.6 to 51.3, but numbers above 50 indicate growth, meaning new exports continued to grow, but at a slower pace than December.

"The U.S. manufacturing sector started 2013 on a strong footing," said Markit Chief Economist Chris Williamson.

"These survey data are consistent with production growing at a quarterly rate of around 1.5 percent at the start of the year and manufacturing payrolls rising by approximately 15,000 per month," he said.

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