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March 21, 2013 at 11:45 AM
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U.S. stock indexes stumble

NEW YORK, March 21 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes stumbled Thursday morning with the bailout for Cyprus undecided and a dour report from technology giant Oracle Corp.

Technology stocks turned lower after Oracle said sales were in decline. Markets are also under pressure due to uncertainty over an international bailout for Cypriot banks. The European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission -- the so-called troika -- have given Cyprus until Monday to come up with a viable deal to secure a $13 billion loan.

The Cypriot parliament rejected the first proposal, which included a tax on bank deposits in Cyprus. The troika has rejected a counter offer of using pension funds to make a $7.5 billion contribution the troika demanded of Cyprus. The Wall Street Journal reported.

In late morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 51.34 points, or 0.35 percent, to 14,460.39.

The Nasdaq shed 22.04 points, or 0.68 percent, to 3,231.70.

The Standard and Poor's 500 dropped 6.18 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,552.53.

Ten-year U.S. treasury bonds rose 7/32 to yield 1.937 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro was at $1.2915 from Wednesday's $1.2936. Against the yen, the dollar was lower at 95.27 yen from 96.01 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index gained 1.34 percent, 167.46 points, to 12,635.69.

Scores arrested at Las Vegas sit-in

LAS VEGAS, March 21 (UPI) -- Police said 98 union activists were arrested in Las Vegas after blocking a main thoroughfare to protest the lack of a Cosmopolitan resort contract.

"Cosmopolitan, look around, Las Vegas is a union town!" protesters yelled, the Las Vegas Sun reported Thursday.

The protesters included about 100 members, wearing red T-shirts, of the Culinary Union Local 226 sitting down on Las Vegas Boulevard.

The protesters were arrested and led away in a scene that lasted about an hour as 1,000 union members from various resorts were nearby holding signs. Scores more watched from an overpass.

"Cosmopolitan workers are not second-class citizens ... They need a contract," said Maria Mares, a 50-year-old housekeeper of the Riviera.

The union contract at Cosmopolitan expired two years ago. The points of contention involved wages, healthcare benefits and job security, the newspaper said.

Talks with the union are "ongoing," said Cosmopolitan spokeswoman Amy Rossetti.

But union members said they were frustrated with the negotiations.

"We'll be back," protesters chanted as they were taken away by police.

Suntech Power files for restructuring

BEIJING, March 21 (UPI) -- China's Suntech Power Holdings, one of the largest makers of solar panels, will seek bankruptcy reorganization, a Chinese court said.

The court in east China's Wuxi city, where the company has headquarters, approved an application from Suntech's nine creditor banks for its reorganization under China's bankruptcy laws.

The official China Daily said the announcement came two days after Suntech Power defaulted on a $541 million bond payment.

The banks said the Suntech Power didn't offer a feasible repayment program, China's official Xinhua news agency reported. The banks expect the company to seek a third party for strategic reorganization.

Suntech was founded in 2001 by Shi Zhengrong, a noted solar power scientist, who took the company public after three years. The company was listed in New York in 2005 as Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd., Xinhua said.

Since then, however, the company has been facing oversupply of solar cells and panels in the global market. China also has been involved in trade disputes with the United States and Europe over alleged dumping and government subsidies to its solar panel industry.

The latest development has raised concerns within China's solar industry, China Daily reported.

Panasonic opens washing machine plant

HANOI, Vietnam, March 21 (UPI) -- Japanese electronics giant Panasonic Corp.'s $32 million washing machine plant in Vietnam has begun operations, officials said Thursday.

The plant, operated by Panasonic Appliances Viet Nam Co. Ltd., is in the Thang Long Industrial Park in Yen My District in Hung Yen province in the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam, Vietnam News reported. The plant also has a research-and-development facility.

The plant, fully funded by Panasonic Corp., will make about 300,000 washing machines this year, the report said. Production is expected to double next year.

The plant will have about 300 local employees by next year.

The report said the plant will focus on developing high-performance machines that will incorporate Panasonic's advanced eco-friendly and smart technologies.

Panasonic also has plans to build refrigerators and resin boards used in smartphones in Vietnam.

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