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March 12, 2013 at 9:39 PM
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Dow squeaks out another gain

NEW YORK, March 12 (UPI) -- The Dow blue chip index eked out a sixth straight record closing high Tuesday, after losses followed a report showing little growth in U.S. business optimism.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses, a trade group representing small companies, said its monthly Small Business Optimism index increased 1.9 points in February to 90.8. The improvement is welcome, the association said, but the index "remains on par with the 2008 average and below the troughs" of two previous recessions.

By close of trading, investors found just enough muscle to push the Dow Jones industrial average to a 2.77 point gain, edging the index up 0.02 percent to 14,450.06.

The Standard and Poor's 500 index shed 3.74 points or 0.24 percent to 1,552.48. The Nasdaq composite dropped 10.55 points or 0.32 percent to 3,242.32.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,258 stocks advanced and 1,793 declined on a volume of 3.2 billion shares traded.

The 10-year U.S. treasury bonds rose 12/32 to yield 2.021 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro fell to $1.3028 from Monday's $1.3046. Against the yen, the dollar was lower at 96.06 yen from 96.29 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 shed 0.28 percent, 34.24 points to 12,314.81.

In London, the FTSE 100 index added 0.11 percent, 6.99 points to 6,510.62.

FCC OKs T-Mobile, MetroPCS merger

WASHINGTON, March 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday that a merger between T-Mobile and MetroPCS would serve the public's interest.

The FCC said the merger would accelerate development of a 4G LTE system across the country.

"We anticipate that the combination of T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS would enable the deployment of a substantial LTE network nationally that would enhance competition and provide important benefits for consumers," the commission said in its ruling.

"With today's approval, America's mobile market continues to strengthen, moving toward robust competition and revitalized competitors," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement.

PCMagazine reported that MetroPCS shareholders now have to approve the deal. They are scheduled to vote on the merger at a shareholder meeting on April 12.

Pokerstars looks to buy N.J. casino

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., March 12 (UPI) -- British gambling website Pokerstars has struck a deal to buy an Atlantic City, N.J., casino, perhaps a sign of things to come, industry experts said.

The move, a $30 million deal with the Atlantic Club, an 800-room hotel and casino, was prompted by a state law that legalizes online gambling in New Jersey but only for companies that are sponsored by a casino in Atlantic City, ABC News reported Tuesday.

That law, signed by Gov. Chris Christie in late February, is similar to laws in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Delaware.

It has prompted industry observers to look for signs of which part of the industry would flinch first. Would online companies begin buying brick and mortar casinos or would established resorts begin to buy or start their own online operations?

Joe Brennan, director of the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association said neither side wants to back down.

"Pokerstars is indicative of this: That online giants aren't going to sit back and let U.S. [casino] companies eat their lunch. They built their industry and I don't think they're going to passively sit back and allow it to be acquired," Brennan said.

At the same time, "brick and mortar casinos are not just going to drop off the face of the earth. People are not playing at the same stakes online as they are in casinos. It's much smaller stakes," Brennan said.

"The future of gaming will require a mix of online and offline expertise," said Pokerstars spokesman Eric Hollreiser in an email to ABC.

Pokerstars revealed its intention to buy the Atlantic Club in a regulator filing. It now must wait for the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and the state's Casino Control Commission to give the deal the green light.

If the deal goes through, it would be the first time an online gaming site has put a stake in the ground by buying a brick and mortar establishment, ABC News said.

Job openings up slightly

WASHINGTON, March 12 (UPI) -- There were 3.7 million job openings at the end of January, a small increase from the previous month, the U.S. Labor Department said Tuesday.

On the last business day of January, there were 3.69 million job openings, the department said releasing preliminary figures. On the last business day of December, there were 3.61 million job openings, the department said.

Job openings were slightly higher in construction and manufacturing and modestly higher in retail trade.

Job openings for professional and business services jumped by 101,000 in the month to 676,000, the monthly report said.

The hiring rate and separation rate -- the percentage of employees hired or leaving a job -- were unchanged at 3.1 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

In the construction sector, the separation rate -- also known as the turnover rate -- rose from 4.6 percent in December to 5.4 percent in January, but the hiring rate, just ahead of an seasonal increase in construction projects, also rose, climbing from 4.9 percent to 5.6 percent.

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