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Afternoon Business Brief

February 24, 2011, 1:54 PM

Afternoon Business Brief

With oil trading around the century mark, stocks are in retreat for a third straight trading session. The Dow has been down more than 100 points at midday.

  • Oil prices have surged with the rebellion in Libya appearently shutting down more crude production than previously estimated. Most of Libya's oil is exported to Europe, but it will push prices up everywhere by increasing competition for similar varieties of higher-quality crude used to make gasoline and jet fuel. 
  • Wisconsin state troopers have been sent to find at least one of the 14 Senate Democrats who have been on the run. At issue is the delayed vote on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to strip collective bargaining rights from nearly all public employees.
  • Former President Bill Clinton urges farmers not to use so much corn for ethanol fuel that it leads to higher food prices and riots in poor countries. He told farmers and Agriculture Department employees that he believes producing biofuels such as corn-based ethanol is important for reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. But, he said, farmers should look beyond domestic production and consider the needs of developing countries.
  • Mixed news on the economy. Sales of new homes plummeted in January, and businesses ordered fewer long-lasting goods. But the number of people applying for unemployment benefits has fallen over the past four weeks to the lowest level in two and a-half years.

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