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Feb. 28, 2013 at 6:24 PM
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U.S. markets fade late in session

NEW YORK, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes gains faded late Thursday despite an upward revision in the fourth quarter gross domestic product.

The Commerce Department pushed its estimate of the quarter to reflect 0.1 percent growth, a revision from a 0.1 percent contraction reported a month ago.

Enthusiasm waned late, however. By close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average shed 20.88 points or 0.15 percent to 14,054.49.

The Dow, which was up nearly 20 points in the early afternoon, remains within reach of its all-time closing high of 14,164.63 points, which occurred in October 2007.

The Standard and Poor's 500 closed with a loss of 1.31 points or 0.09 percent to 1,514.68. The Nasdaq composite lost 2.07 points, or 0.07 percent, to 3,160.19.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,545 stocks advanced and 1,481 declined on a volume of 3.8 billion shares traded.

The 10-year U.S. treasury note rose 6/32 to yield 1.882 percent.

Against the dollar the euro fell to $1.3064 from Wednesday's $1.3136. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 92.6 yen from 92.23 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 soared, climbing 2.71 percent on a gain of 305.39 points, to 11,559.36.

In London, the FTSE 100 index added 0.55 percent, 34.93 points, to 6,360.81.

Jack Lew sworn in as treasury secretary

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Jack Lew was sworn in as treasury secretary Thursday in a private ceremony hosted by President Obama.

The oath of office was administered by Vice President Joe Biden.

Lew is the 76th treasury secretary, succeeding Timothy Geithner, who announced his departure soon after Obama won his second term.

During his daily media briefing, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama and Lew "have become close through their service together, and the president wanted to have this ceremony for Secretary Lew, in the Oval Office, because of that relationship."

Lew had been Obama's chief of staff and before that was budget director for Obama and President Bill Clinton.

The U.S. Senate Wednesday handily confirmed Lew as treasury secretary Wednesday, despite reservations by some Republicans, on a 71-26 vote. Lew had come under criticism from some GOP senators for his personal finances and connections with Wall Street.

Florida insurer airs dirty laundry list

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Florida's Citizen's Property Insurance Corp. released internal documents in an effort to clear the air about personnel misconduct, the firm's president said.

"This review is an important piece of Citizens' ongoing efforts to strengthen internal policies to ensure that our employees are held to the highest standards of corporate integrity," President Barry Gilway said in a statement.

"All complaints were addressed and corrective action taken in accordance with Citizens' policies in place at the time," Gilway said.

But the effort could backfire, the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times reported Thursday.

In releasing a list of internal complaints, the company looks sincere in its effort to come clean, but it also exposes a significant number of improprieties, the newspapers said.

The insurance company, which is backed by taxpayer funds, has been in the spotlight ever since it fired four investigators in its Office of Corporate Integrity, which it said was part of a restructuring effort.

The office was then disbanded. This occurred soon after the firm's Internal Auditor Joe Martins censored much of a critical internal report.

The allegations are extremely broad, ranging from overpaying executives to corporate fraud to using the company credit card to pay for a visit to a strip club.

The list of complaints broadens that list to include allegations of theft, office affairs and even supervisors "wearing too much cologne," Martins said in a statement.

"Where we found weaknesses, we are making necessary improvements to strengthen our complaints and disciplinary procedures," Martins said.

Critics of the company's dirty laundry include Gov. Rick Scott.

"People shouldn't be doing these things," Scott said.

In a recent interview, Scott called the behavior of some of the company's personnel "'outrageous' and 'foolish' and 'ridiculous,'" the newspapers reported.

Sales of horsemeat up in France

PARIS, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- French horse butchers report the horsemeat scandal that has hit the European food industry has sent their sales up.

Interbev Equins, the country's horsemeat industry association, says sales have increased about 15 percent after years of decline, Radio France Internationale reported. But sales of products involving ground beef are down, with Fraisnor, a company in northern France that makes lasagne, reporting a 70 percent drop.

The scandal began in Britain and Ireland when ground beef products were tested and found to contain horse DNA.

The French working class turned to the horse in the revolutionary late 18th century, converting aristocrats' horses into food. But in the past 30 years consumption has dwindled from more than 3 pounds a head to about two-thirds of a pound.

"People had forgotten about horsemeat," a buyer who identified herself only as Nicole told RFI. "The scandal has made them think about it again."

Nicole buys ground horsemeat once a week from Jacques Leban, a horse butcher in Paris. She says it has to be eaten promptly so she buys it in the morning once a week and eats it for lunch.

Leban said his sales are up 40 percent. He has a sign in the window to reassure his customers that what he sells is meat entirely from horses raised in France.

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