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March 10, 2012 01:37 PM

Saturday Afternoon Business Brief

A strong February jobs report boosted stocks yesterday, but the gains were tempered by news that Greece's big debt write-down could cause big losses for some banks. The blue-chip index finished 14 points higher on the day. After a 200-point dive Tuesday, it ended up 56 points lower for the week at 12,922. The S&P 500 stands at 1,371, while the Nasdaq closed at 2,988.

• President Barack Obama and Republicans are laying out their differences on energy issues in their weekly addresses. The president touted alternative energy sources and says the country can't drill its way to lower gasoline prices. For the GOP, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple accused the Obama administration of blocking projects, such as the Keystone XL pipeline. AAA puts the average price of a gallon of gasoline at $3.78 for regular.

• Greece's private creditors have agreed to take cents on the euro in the biggest debt writedown in history.  That's paving the way for an enormous second bailout, but it also gives other European governments and banks time to strengthen their financial defenses should Greece falter down the road. One economist says it "does more to protect Europe from Greece than for Greece itself."

• The head of a $23 billion health fund says it's going to have to spend a larger portion of contributions on "capacity-building" rather than disease-fighting. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has been stung by donor complaints about past financial losses. The organization's new chief says the fund's second-largest contributor, France, will start requiring 5 percent of its money go to tighten financial accountability among grant recipients.

• Misdemeanor criminal charges have been filed and fines levied against the operator of a Utah mine where a 2007 collapse killed six miners, two rescuers and a federal inspector. Federal prosecutors say the mine operator, an affiliate of Murray Energy Corp, has agreed to plead guilty to two counts of violating mandatory health and safety standards and pay a $500,000 fine. The collapse at Crandall Canyon was so powerful that it initially registered as a 3.9-magnitude earthquake. Another cave-in 10 days later killed the rescuers and the federal inspector.

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