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Stocks Drop 326 Points on Sluggish Economy

Business Roundup for Monday, February 3

 Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen (R) is sworn as Federal Reserve Chairman by Federal Reserve Board Governor Daniel Tarullo at the Federal Reserve Building
Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen (R) is sworn as Federal Reserve Chairman by Federal Reserve Board Governor Daniel Tarullo at the Federal Reserve Building (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks have taken a big hit today, as reports of sluggishness in the U.S. manufacturing sector added to worries about the global economy and extended the market’s 2014 slide. The Dow plunged 326 points, or more than 2 percent, to close at 15,372.80. The broader indexes also lost more than 2 percent. The S&P 500 dropped 40 points to 1,741.89. The Nasdaq slid nearly 107 points to 3,996.96

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A major U.S. hotel operator says it’s investigating a data breach that may affect customers from nearly a year ago. But, White Lodging won’t say how many people might be affected. Cybersecurity blogger Brian Krebs first reported the breach of credit and debit card information and says it could affect thousands of guests at Marriott hotels managed by White Lodging since March 23, 2013. White Lodging manages 168 hotels under various brands in 21 states.

EXETER, Calif. (AP) — A week of freezing temperatures in early December cost California’s $2 billion citrus industry about $441 million, an industry group estimated on Monday. The group, California Citrus Mutual, said the damage was confined to the state’s Central Valley, where mandarin, navel and lemon crops were lost during seven consecutive nights of freezing temperatures in early December. About 20 percent of the mandarin crop had already been harvested, but about 40 percent of the remaining oranges, or $150 million in revenue, were lost. The navel crop suffered a 30 percent loss and the dollar value of the damage hit $260 million, the group said. About $24 million in lemons also were lost. The group estimated that citrus growers have spent $49 million to protect the crop through early January. “It’s a significant loss and most of that’s going to go to the grower’s bottom line,” said Bob Blakely, director of industry relations for California Citrus Mutual. The vast majority of California’s citrus crop is consumed as fruit, not juice, so the loss will not affect juice prices, Blakely said.Consumers, however, are likely to see at least a slight increase in the price of oranges at the grocery store. “As you move through the remainder of the season, the supplies are going to become shorter,” he said.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says new crash-avoidance technology holds the potential to significantly reduce the number of collisions, injuries and deaths on the nation’s streets and highways. The technology lets vehicles communicate with each other and automakers could soon be required to equip new cars and light trucks with it.

DETROIT (AP) — Workers at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee will decide next week if they want to be represented by the United Auto Workers union. The German automaker says it has asked the National Labor Relations Board to conduct a vote at the plant Feb. 12 through 14. The vote represents a victory for the UAW, which has so far been unsuccessful in organizing U.S. workers at foreign-owned auto plants.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Janet Yellen has officially taken over as the chair of the Federal Reserve today, while her predecessor has found a professional landing spot. The Brookings Institution says Ben Bernanke will be a distinguished fellow in residence with the Washington think tank’s Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy. The center’s director says Bernanke is planning to write a book.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The manufacturing sector lost a little momentum last month. The Institute for Supply Management says its index of manufacturing activity fell to 51.3 in January from 56.5 in the previous month. Factories cut back sharply on production, and new orders plunged. Still, any reading above 50 signals growth.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Construction spending rose in December, but just a little. The Commerce Department says it increased a 0.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $930.5 billion. The December increase was driven by a 2.6 percent rise in private residential construction.

DETROIT (AP) — Winter storms appear to be hurting auto sales. Ford is reporting a 7-percent sales decline in January, while GM says its sales were down 12 percent and VW saw a 19 percent drop-off. Chrysler is the exception. Its sales rose 8 percent last month, its best January showing in six years. Nissan says it, too, had a good January, with its redesigned Rogue small SUV leading a U.S. sales gain of nearly 12 percent.

TOKYO (AP) — International stock markets were mostly lower today as signs of weakness in another China manufacturing survey added to lingering jitters about developing economies. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell below $97 a barrel. The dollar gained against the yen and was little changed against the euro.

UNDATED (AP) — The Institute for Supply Management will release January’s manufacturing index today. And the government will report on construction spending for December. Also today, automakers will release vehicle sales for January. As the earnings season continues, restaurant operator Yum Brands will report quarterly financial results.

NEW YORK (AP) — Super Bowl marketers played it cool this year. There were no crude jokes. Sexual innuendo was kept to a minimum. And uncomfortable scenes were missing. In short, there wasn’t much shock value. Advertisers tried to keep it family friendly with socially conscious statements, patriotic messages and light humor.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Ride Along” is still rolling at the box office, steering Universal Pictures into the No. 1 slot in a surprising three-week takeover. The buddy cop comedy, starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, made $12.3 million, as it nears a $100 million domestic total, according to studio estimates Sunday. Disney’s “Frozen,” now the fourth highest-grossing domestic animated release ever, is in second place with $9.3 million. “That Awkward Moment” holds down third place while “The Nut Job,” also animated, opened in fourth. “Lone Survivor” rounded out the top five.


(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

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