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Feb. 8, 2013 at 1:58 PM
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Stock indexes climb Friday

NEW YORK, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes climbed Friday after the U.S. Commerce Department said the U.S. trade deficit shrank $19.5 billion from 2011 to 2012.

The annual decline was pushed by a surprising trading gap of $38.5 billion in December from $48.6 billion in November. Economists had expected a drop, but only to $46 billion.

In early afternoon trading Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average added 46.25 points or 0.33 percent to 13,990.30. The Dow needs to top 14,009.79 at the close to claim a fifth consecutive week of gains.

The Nasdaq composite index added 29.22 points or 0.92 percent to 3,194.35. The Standard & Poor's 500 gained 7.33 points or 0.49 percent to 1,516.72.

The 10-year treasury note fell 3/32 to yield 1.969 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro fell to $1.3358 from Thursday's $1.3397. The dollar fell to 92.82 yen from 93.63 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index dropped 203.91 points, 1.8 percent, to 11,153.16.

In London, the FTSE 100 index rose 0.57 percent, 35.51 points, to 6,263.93.

Trade gap dropped $19.5B year-to-year

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. trade deficit dropped $19.5 billion to $540.4 billion from 2011 to 2012, the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis said Friday.

More than half of the decline came in the last month of the year, the bureau said. The trade deficit fell $10.1 billion November to December to $38.5 billion for the month.

The final month's decline was a surprise. Economists had predicted the deficit would drop to about $46 billion.

Exports in December rose $3.9 billion, climbing from $182.5 billion to $186.4 billion, while imports dropped $6.2 billion, sliding from $231.1 billion to $224.9 billion, the bureau said.

The bureau said exports rose sharply in industrial supplies and materials and foods and feeds. Those categories offset declining exports in capital goods, automobiles and consumer goods.

Similarly, the drop in imports month-to-month was led by a decline in industrial supplies, automobile and capital goods.

Among major trading partners, the trade gap with China dropped from $29 billion to $24.5 billion in December. The decline in the trade gap with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries fell from $6.6 billion to $3.4 billion, November to December, a figure down from $8.6 billion in October.

The trade deficit widened with only one major trading partner in December: Canada, where the deficit rose from $2.8 billion to $3.6 billion.

BlackBerry won't sell Z10 phone in Japan

WATERLOO, Ontario, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- BlackBerry will not sell its new Z10 smartphone in Japan, the company said after a newspaper said the maker would leave the market partly due to the language.

"We are in the process of launching BlackBerry 10 globally in key markets and we are seeing positive demand for the BlackBerry Z10 in countries where it has already launched," BlackBerry Ltd. said in a statement cited by the Engadget technology blog.

"Japan is not a major market for BlackBerry and we have no plans to launch BlackBerry 10 devices there at this time," BlackBerry's statement said. "However, we will continue to support BlackBerry customers in Japan."

Daily business newspaper Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun reported the Canadian telecommunications and wireless equipment giant would stop offering smartphones in the Japanese market in part because it couldn't justify the cost of modifying the new proprietary BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system for the Japanese language.

BlackBerry's statement didn't address this.

Nikkei said BlackBerry's Japanese market share dropped from 5 percent to 0.3 percent.

BlackBerry Ltd. was called Research in Motion Ltd. until Jan. 30 when it announced the name change during the unveiling of the new BlackBerry 10 operating system and two new smartphones based on the platform.

The two phones are the touch-screen-based Z10 and the Q10, which retains BlackBerry's distinctive QWERTY keyboard.

Canada's unemployment rate ticks lower

OTTAWA, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Canada lost 22,000 jobs in January but the unemployment rate dropped as a greater number of people stopped looking for work, Statistics Canada said.

The country's unemployment rate dropped from 7.1 percent to 7 percent, the national data agency said.

On the month Canada lost 22,000 jobs but the previous 12 months saw a gain of 286,000 jobs, a 1.6 percent gain, "all in full time work," the agency said.

The average number of hours worked in the previous 12 months rose 1.7 percent.

Public sector employment fell 27,000. Educational services and manufacturing also lost jobs in the month. Gains were made in construction and public administration, the agency said.

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