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Feb. 11, 2013 at 3:03 PM
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Markets poised for correction

NEW YORK, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes were down early Monday, with investors becoming cautious in the midst of a long winning streak.

In mid-afternoon trading, the DJIA gave up 35.46 points or 0.25 percent to 13,957.51. The Nasdaq composite index lost 7.51 points or 0.24 percent to 3,186.36. The Standard & Poor's 500 shed 2.44 points or 0.16 percent to 1,515.49..

The 10-year treasury note was up 1/32 to yield 1.947 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro rose to $1.3387 from Friday's $1.3372. The dollar rose to 93.42 yen from 92.76 yen.

The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo was closed Monday.

In London, the FTSE 100 index added 0.21 percent, 13.13 points, to 6,277.06.

At the end of Friday trading, the S&P 500 posted gains for the sixth consecutive week, the Dow narrowly missed a continuation of its winning streak and the Nasdaq index was at a 12-year high.

"We're paring the big run that we've had since Election Day," Paul Nolte, managing director at Dearborn Partners told The Wall Street Journal.

"The market needs to take a break," he said. "I think we've got a chance of getting to the old highs this week or next, barring any exogenous European event."

Report critical of turnover at SEC

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- A think-tank report says U.S. regulators going off to work for Wall Street firms and corporate lawyers taking their place weakens the legal system.

"Former employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission routinely help corporations try to influence SEC. rule-making, counter the agency's investigations of suspected wrongdoing, soften the blow of SEC enforcement actions, block shareholder proposals and win exemptions from federal law," says a report by the Project on Government Oversight.

Regulatory officials can earn a very presentable living, but corporate lawyers can earn millions of dollars per year. Knowing this is so, it can be expected that an official who expects to work on both sides of the system in the course of a career will temper the work accordingly.

At the Securities and Exchange Commission, top enforcement official Robert Khuzami left his position Friday, presumably to end up in a lucrative Wall Street job, The New York Times reported Monday.

Similarly, President Barack Obama's choice to head the SEC is Mary Jo White, who has worked as a federal prosecutor and as an attorney defending Wall Street executives, the Times said.

SEC spokesman John Nester said the agency follows "government-wide regulations and laws that deter conflicts and ensure impartiality."

"We decide issues on their merits according to the rules and regulations governing the securities industry regardless of whether the requesters have an SEC background or not," he said.

In fact, a previous study came to the opposite conclusion of the study released Monday by the Project on Government Oversight.

A study conducted last year by accounting experts said that prosecutors worked extra hard fighting corporate malfeasance to prove to corporations that when they went to work for them in later years, they were tough adversaries.

Hakon Invest to buy out ICA

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- An investment firm in Sweden, Hakon Invest, said it would buy 60 percent of retail firm ICA from Dutch retailer Ahold for $3.1 billion.

The 60 percent represents the portion of ICA that Hakon Invest does not already own. Hakon Invest will take complete ownership of ICA while Ahold concentrates on the chains it owns outright, which include Giant and Stop & Shop in the United States, The New York Times reported Monday.

ICA runs 2,000 supermarkets in Sweden and Norway and the Baltic countries, which includes Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and other countries across the Baltic Sea from Sweden.

The deal is expected to close by the end of June, the Times said.

Crude oil stays above $95

NEW YORK, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices eased back but remained above $95 per barrel Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil for March delivery shed 40 cents from Friday's close to $95.37 per barrel.

Reformulated blendstock gasoline lost 2.97 cents to $3.016 per gallon. Heating oil shed 0.9 cents to $3.223 per gallon.

Natural gas was down 4 cents to $3.225 per million British thermal units.

At the pump, the national average price of unleaded gasoline, up for eight consecutive weeks, rose to $3.587 per gallon from Sunday's $3.582 per gallon, AAA said.

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