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Dow off to another solid start

NEW YORK, March 8 (UPI) -- The high-flying Dow Jones index rose again Friday after the U.S. Labor Department said the nation's unemployment fell to 7.7 percent in February.


After establishing all-time record closing highs Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average bolted out of the gate.

In late morning trading, the DJIA added 27.30 points, or 0.19 percent, to 14,356.79.

The Standard and Poor's 500 index added 1.29 points, or 0.08 percent, to 1,545.55. The Nasdaq composite gained 11.73 points, or 0.36 percent, to 3,234.09.

The 10-year U.S. treasury note fell 14/32 to yield 2.051 percent.

Against the dollar the euro fell to $1.2991 from Thursday's $1.3107. Against the yen, the dollar was higher at 96.18 yen from 94.83 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 rose 2.64 percent on a gain of 315.54 points, to 12,283.62.


Unemployment ticks down to 7.7 percent

WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 7.7 percent in February on a gain of 236,000 jobs, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

The rate matches the figure from November of last year, which was the lowest jobless rate since December 2008.

Economists had expected the February rate to remain unchanged at 7.9 percent.

"The unemployment rate ... has shown little movement, on net, since September 2012," the Labor Department said after revising its estimate of January gains from 157,000 to 119,000.

At the same time, the department tweaked its December figure higher, estimating 219,000 jobs were added in the final month of 2012, rather than 196,000 as previously reported.

The department said professional and business services added 73,000 jobs in February after a gain of 16,000 in January.

Consistent with Wednesday's Automatic Data Processing Inc. report on private-sector jobs, the government said the bulk of February's gain came in service-oriented positions.

The Labor Department said 11,000 new accounting and bookkeeping jobs were added in February.

The construction sector added 48,000 jobs and healthcare added 32,000.

Retailers added 24,000 positions in February.

The average workweek "edged up" by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours, the report said.


In manufacturing, the average workweek was extended by 0.2 hours to 40.9 hours and factory overtime rose by 0.1 hours to 3.4 hours.

The average hourly wage rose 4 cents in February to $23.82 per hour, the department said.

Motorola Mobility begins 1,200 layoffs

LIBERTYVILLE, Ill., March 8 (UPI) -- Motorola Mobility, a company owned by Google, said it had begun the process of laying off 1,200 workers in the United States, China and India.

The company's revenues in the fourth quarter of 2012 were down 40 percent from the same period a year earlier, falling from $2.5 billion to $1.5 billion, Sun-Times media reported Friday.

Motorola Mobility lost $353 million October through December, Google said.

Besides the layoffs, Motorola intends to move 2,800 workers from its headquarters in Libertyville, Ill., to Chicago's Merchandise Mart, the newspaper said.

Alitalia takes women's holiday to heart

ROME, March 8 (UPI) -- Italian airline Alitalia said it took International Women's Day to heart by scheduling flights from Rome to Milan and back staffed entirely by women.

Two Airbus A-320 flights with an all-female flight staff and service crew were scheduled for Friday, ANSA reported.

The first of the two flights, a morning commute, has already made the hop to Milan and back, ANSA said.


Women boarding the flight were presented with a sprig of mimosa.

"What does this particular day mean? It is an encouragement for all women to fly high and fast, because we can," flight Cmdr. Barbara Plantulli Lambert.

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