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March 14, 2013 at 11:15 AM
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U.S. markets rise on labor news

NEW YORK, March 14 (UPI) -- U.S. markets rose Thursday, pushed by a Labor Department report that said first-time unemployment claims dropped in the week.

The number of initial benefit claims filed fell by 10,000 to 332,000, the second-lowest it has been since January 2008.

The Dow Jones industrial average, on a nine-day winning streak, the longest it has seen in 16 years, added 57.58 points, or 0.4 percent, to 14,512.86.

The Standard and Poor's 500 index added 5.53 points, or 0.36 percent, to 1,560.05. The Nasdaq composite gained 10.64 points, or 0.33 percent, to 3,255.76.

The 10-year U.S. treasury bonds fell 9/32 to yield 2.054 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro rose to $1.2975 from Wednesday's $1.2961. Against the yen, the dollar was higher at 96.18 yen from 96.11 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 gained 141.53 points, 1.16 percent, to 12,381.19.

Bank repossessions at 65-month low

IRVINE, Calif., March 14 (UPI) -- Bank repossessions of property fell 11 percent January to February to a 65-month low, online marketplace RealtyTrac said Thursday.

Bank repossessions were down 29 percent from February 2012, posting the lowest number of repossessions since September 2007, the firm said.

Foreclosure starts, however, rose 10 percent from January after three months of declines.

From a year ago, foreclosure starts have dropped 25 percent, RealtyTrac said in a monthly report on delinquent and defaulting property loans.

"At a high level the U.S. foreclosure inferno has been effectively contained and should be reduced to a slow burn in the next two years. But dangerous foreclosure flare-ups are still popping up in states where foreclosures have been delayed by a lengthy court process or by new legislation making it more difficult to foreclose outside of the court system," said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, in a statement.

In Washington state, for example, foreclosure activity has risen for seven consecutive months, "pushing the state's foreclosure rate to fifth highest nationwide," the monthly report said.

In Maryland, the foreclosure rate has risen for eight consecutive months, pushing that state into the top 10 highest nationally for the first time since July 2010.

Nationwide, one of every 849 housing units included either delinquent or defaulted loans, resulting in default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions in the month.

Bulgari assets seized

ROME, March 14 (UPI) -- Authorities in Italy said they seized millions of dollars in assets from luxury goods company Bulgari, which is being investigated for tax evasion.

ANSA reported Thursday family members Paolo and Nicola Bulgari and Francesco Trapani were also being investigated, as was the company's attorney, Maurizio Valentini.

Paolo and Nicola Bulgari are grandchildren of Sotirio Bulgari, who founded the company.

Authorities have seized the company's store in the fashionable shopping district in Rome on Via dei Condotti.

Authorities have seized $59.4 million in company assets, ANSA said. The company allegedly hid $3.8 billion in revenue from tax authorities since 2006.

A paint by numbers portrait of workers

MILWAUKEE, March 14 (UPI) -- The typical U.S. worker skips breakfast, drives a car to work, parts their hair in the middle and has had a date with a co-worker, a national study found.

CareerBuilder said Thursday that in a survey of 3,991 workers conducted from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30, 2012, almost a quarter of respondents, 23 percent, indicated they do not eat breakfast before heading off to work.

Under the breakfast category, 31 percent said they ate cereal, 19 percent fruit or eggs, 18 percent oatmeal and 16 percent toast.

Eighty-three percent indicated they took a car to work. Thirty-four percent said they parted their hair in the middle -- compared with 23 percent on the right and 30 percent on the left. For 14 percent, this question was moot, as they indicated they were bald.

Forty-three percent said they dressed in a "business casual" manner and 39 percent said they ate their lunch at their desks every day.

Thirty-eight percent indicated they had at some point in their careers dated a co-worker, CareerBuilder said. The beverage of choice at happy hour after work was beer -- 38 percent -- followed by water, which was named by 31 percent of respondents.

Given the many distractions at work, from music to cellphones to attractive co-workers, the survey found that 38 percent of respondents felt they felt they put in a full 8-hour day at work.

Twenty-one percent indicated they worked for seven hours out of their scheduled time and 18 percent indicated they really worked six hours out of the day. Eleven percent indicated 5 hours was spent productively, while 12 percent indicated actual work took up four hours of their working day.

The survey was conduced by Harris Interactive. The results had a margin of error of plus and minus 1.55 percentage points.

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