Business Roundup for Friday, February 7

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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are higher in midday trading after the government reported a decline in the unemployment rate last month. Earnings gains from several U.S. companies including Expedia also drove indexes higher Friday. The market had its biggest gain of the year the day before. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 90 points, or 0.6 percent, to stand at 15,719 as of noon Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 14 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,787. Health care and industrial stocks led the index higher. The Nasdaq composite rose 47 points, or 1.2 percent, to 4,104. More people began looking for work in January, and many of them found jobs. That sent the unemployment rate down to 6.6 percent, the lowest since October 2008.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hiring was surprisingly weak in January for a second straight month. The Labor Department says employers added 113,000 jobs last month, far below last year's average monthly gain of 194,000. Still, more people began looking for work in January, and some of them found jobs. The unemployment rate edged down to 6.6 percent from 6.7 percent in December. That's the lowest rate since October 2008.

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A Pennsylvania heating and refrigeration company says it's being investigated by the Secret Service as a possible portal used by computer hackers to steal credit card numbers from 40 million Target customers. The Pittsburgh-area company, Fazio Mechanical Services Inc., says it's been the victim of a "sophisticated cyberattack operation." Target isn't commenting but has previously said it believes hackers accessed customer information through the computer system of one of its vendors.

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple has reportedly repurchased $14 billion of its stock in the two weeks after its first-quarter financial results and second-quarter revenue outlook disappointed investors. The Wall Street Journal quotes Apple CEO Tim Cook as saying the company was "surprised" when its stock dropped 8 percent the day after its earnings report and revenue outlook. He told the newspaper he wanted to be "aggressive" and "opportunistic."

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — U.S. Olympians are having to get by without the team's official yogurt. A customs dispute with Russia is keeping 5,000 cups of Chobani Greek yogurt from getting to Sochi. U.S. halfpipe skier Aaron Blunck says to traveling athletes, getting food from home is part of feeling fit and healthy. But teammate Lyman Currier says part of being an elite athlete is being able to adapt.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — International stock markets were higher today in anticipation of a positive U.S. jobs report for January. Evidence of healthy U.S. job growth would suggest that the world's biggest economy is still expanding solidly enough to support global growth. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell just below $97.50. The dollar inched upward against the euro and the yen.

WASHINGTON — A government report saying fewer people applied for unemployment last week, combined with a private survey that showed solid U.S. hiring in January are apparently bolstering investors' confidence that today's January jobs report will be positive. Also this afternoon, the Federal Reserve will release December's consumer credit data.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Economists surveyed by FactSet are predicting a job creation rebound today when the Labor Department announces January employment statistics. The economists say 170,000 jobs were added, compared to only 74,000 in December. The 6.7 percent jobless rate is expected to stay the same.

WASHINGTON (AP) — When President Barack Obama heads to Michigan State University to sign the farm bill today, he'll be bringing a new initiative with him that he hopes will help boost exports. Obama plans to announce the "Made in Rural America" initiative, coupling the bill signing with the announcement of a program to connect rural businesses with federal resources that can help sell their products and services abroad.

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