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Feb. 12, 2013 at 12:26 PM
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Markets make tentative gains

NEW YORK, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes rose Tuesday after the Group of Seven nations issued a statement expressing opposition to currency manipulation.

Ahead of a Group of 20 meeting in Moscow, the G7 nations of the United States, France, Germany, Canada, Japan, Britain and Italy sought to allay fears of a currency war.

Twenty-two of 30 Dow Jones industrial average components rose early, led by Bank of America with shares up 2.19 percent. Alcoa shares roe 1.13 percent, while Home Depot Inc. shares rose 1.07 percent.

In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average added 40.36 points or 0.29 percent to 14,011.60. The Nasdaq composite index dipped 2.34 points or 0.07 percent to 3,189.67. The Standard & Poor's 100 gained 2.37 points or 0.16 percent to 1,519.38.

The 10-year treasury note fell 1/32 to yield 1.972 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro rose to $1.3459 from Monday's $1.3405. The dollar fell to 93.14 yen from 94.32 yen.

The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo climbed 1.94 percent, 215.96 points, to 11,369.12.

The FTSE 100 index in London gained 0.98 percent, 61.32 points, to 6,338.38.

Barclays cuts 3,700 jobs in values purge

LONDON, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- British bank Barclays said it would refocus its business to align it with its values, which would result in the loss of 3,700 jobs.

Barclays was the first major bank to announce a settlement with finance regulators over attempts to manipulate the London inter-bank offered rate, a benchmark rate that is used by banks to determine the interest rates of trillions of dollars in commercial and personal loans.

Barclays agreed to pay $450 million to settle charges against it in the scandal that has also enveloped several other major banks.

While posting a loss of $1.3 billion for the fourth quarter, Barclays announced it would close, pare down and sell various bank units.

"There will be no going back to the old way of doing things," said Chief Executive Officer Anthony Jenkins, who took over after former CEO Robert Diamond left in the wake of the Libor manipulation scandal.

"We will never be in a position again of rewarding people for activities inconsistent with our values," Jenkins told reporters at a news conference.

The bank's departing Chief Financial Officer Christopher Lucas said most of the payroll contraction had already been accomplished, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

About half of the job losses -- 1,800 of them -- were in the investment banking division and those are concentrated in equities and agricultural commodities trading in the bank's European and Asian offices.

Another 1,900 job losses are slated for Barclay's retail and commercial banking operations in Europe.

The bank is planning to close about 30 percent of its branch offices in Europe, the Times said.

Twinkies, Wonder Bread auctions in weeks

IRVING, Texas, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Hostess Brands Inc. is to auction its Twinkie and Wonder Bread brands and Drake's assets within weeks after a U.S. judge gave the OK, a company spokesman said.

The Wonder Bread auction is scheduled to take place Feb. 28, the Twinkie snack cake auction March 13 and auctions for Drake's assets -- including Ring Dings, Yodels and Devil Dogs -- March 15, a Hostess spokesman said.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain in White Plains, N.Y., cleared Hostess Monday to move forward with auctions of several brands.

Drain plans to hold a sale hearing to approve the winning bids March 19, Drain said.

Private-equity firms Apollo Global Management LLC of New York and C. Dean Metropoulos & Co. of Greenwich, Conn., are the lead bidders for most of the Hostess cakes business, with a $410 million offer for brands such as Twinkies, Ho Hos and Ding Dongs, and Dolly Madison products including Zingers.

Their lead bid, or "stalking-horse" offer, worked out with Hostess to test the market ahead of the auction, also covers five bakeries and certain equipment, The Wall Street Journal reported.

McKee Foods Corp. of Collegedale, Tenn., maker of Little Debbie snack cakes, is the stalking-horse bidder for Hostess' Drake's brand, with a $27.5 million offer that doesn't include Drake's New Jersey plant, the Journal said.

Flowers Foods Inc. of Thomasville, Ga., and Tastykake maker Tasty Baking Co. of Philadelphia are the stalking-horse bidders in the auction for five Hostess bread brands, including Wonder and Nature's Pride, offering $360 million. Their bid includes other assets, including 20 bakeries.

A subsidiary of United States Bakery Inc. of Portland, Ore., better known in the Pacific Northwest as Franz Family Bakery, has offered $28.9 million for other Hostess bread brands, including Sweetheart, Eddy's, Standish Farms and Grandma Emilie's. That bid also includes four bakeries, 14 depots and equipment.

Britain's CPI steady in January

LONDON, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- The Office for National Statistics in Britain said the annual rate of inflation held steady at 2.7 percent in January -- the fourth month of no change.

For the month, prices from alcohol and air fares accelerated fastest while downward pressure came from miscellaneous goods and services and prices for clothing.

From the previous month, prices for alcohol and tobacco rose 4.3 percent, while food and non-alcoholic beverage prices rose 0.1 percent. For clothing and footwear, prices were down 5.4 percent.

ONS uses 2005 as a base year, assigning inflation that year a value of 100 for the Consumer Price Index. For January, the CPI for Britain stood at 124.4, ONS said.

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