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Feb. 13, 2013 at 12:06 PM
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Markets mixed on retail report

NEW YORK, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes were mixed Wednesday after the Census Bureau said retail sales rose marginally in January.

Sales rose 4.4 percent from January 2012, but only 0.1 percent from December, which was in line with expectations.

In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average shed 51.45 points or 0.37 percent to 13,967.25. The Nasdaq composite index added 4.12 points or 0.13 percent to 3,190.61. The Standard & Poor's 100 dropped 0.25 points or 0.02 percent to 1,519.18.

The 10-year treasury note fell 7/32 to yield 2.004 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro fell to $1.3445 from Tuesday's $1.3454. The dollar fell to 93.35 yen from 93.48 yen.

The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo dropped 1.04 percent, 117.71 points, to 11,251.41.

The FTSE 100 index in London gave up 0.33 percent, 20.73 points, to 6,359.11.

Lew remarks stress cooperation

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew stressed across-the-aisle cooperation in remarks prepared for his U.S. treasury secretary confirmation hearing Wednesday.

After preliminary thank-yous, Lew told members of the Senate Finance Committee that, "forging bipartisan consensus is not an abstract idea for me."

He cut his teeth with across-the-aisle politics working with former House Speaker Thomas (Tip) O'Neill, Jr. during the Ronald Reagan administration in an attempt to save Social Security.

"He allowed me to gain a deep understanding of what could be accomplished through bipartisan cooperation," Lew said.

Lew said cooperation was also critical in the private sector. He was an administrator at New York University and an executive at Citigroup. "My experience in leadership positions outside government has proven that working collaboratively to solve problems is a universal necessity," he said.

"Finally, as the White House chief of staff, I have had the opportunity to work directly at the side of the president who has always believed, as I do, that neither party has a monopoly on good ideas," he added.

Lew said the top priority at the Treasury Department was to facilitate job creation and, he said, "at the same time we must put our nation back on a path of fiscal sustainability."

He touted recent gains, which he said included the creation of 6 million jobs over the past 35 months and "$2.5 trillion in deficit reduction through spending cuts and revenue increases."

"And we can do even more to shrink the deficit over the next decade through a balanced mix of spending reductions and tax reforms, and sensible reforms to Medicare that will help the program stay sound in the future," he said.

High level trade talks with EU to begin

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- High ranking U.S. and European officials said they were ready to open negotiations on economic cooperation covering trade, partnerships and regulations.

A joint statement released Thursday on behalf of President Barack Obama, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, said negotiations would begin to find ways to enhance and expand on what is already the world's largest economic relationship.

"The transatlantic economic relationship is already the world's largest, accounting for half of global economic output and nearly $1 trillion in goods and services trade, and supporting millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic," the statement said.

Negotiations referred to as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union would be led by U.S. Trade Representative Ronald Kirk and European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.

The aim of the talks would be to "further open markets to grow the $459 billion in U.S. goods and services exports to the EU ... strengthen rules-based investment to grow the world's largest investment relationship ... (and) tackle costly 'behind the border' non-tariff barriers that impede the flow of goods and services trade," the U.S. Trade Representative's office said.

The talks will also aim to increase transparency concerning regulations and to close regulatory gaps, matching up trade rules among trading partners to expand opportunities.

First comes work, then comes marriage

CHICAGO, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Nearly 40 percent of U.S. workers in a survey indicated they had dated a co-worker at some point in their lives, CareerBuilder said Wednesday.

In addition, the employment firm said in a survey of 4,216 workers conducted by Harris Interactive, 17 percent of respondents indicated they had gone out with co-workers at least twice. And of those who had dated a co-worker, 30 percent indicated the relationship culminated in marriage.

Most of those who go out with a co-worker date a peer, but 29 percent of the workers who have dated a co-worker indicated that co-worker outranked them at work and 16 percent indicated they dated their own boss.

Women indicated they were more likely than men to date someone higher up in the hierarchy at work with 38 percent indicating they had dated a superior while 21 percent of men indicated they had done so.

CareerBuilder said the five industries where dating a co-worker was most common were leisure and hospitality, information technology, finance, healthcare and professional and business services.

Employers worried about productivity might be relieved to find that workers indicated the most common places for romance to begin was in a social setting outside of work. Running into a co-worker outside of work and happy hours were the two most commonly mentioned places for co-workers to initiate a romance. This was followed by late nights at work and by lunch, CareerBuilder said.

The survey was conducted throughout the month of November. The results carry a margin of error of 1.51 percentage points, it can be said with 95 percent certainty, CareerBuilder said.

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