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Tuesday Afternoon Business Brief

January 29, 2013, 1:55 PM

Tuesday Afternoon Business Brief

Stocks have edged higher on Wall Street, pushing the Dow toward 14,000, as investors digest the latest round of earnings and economic reports. At 2 p.m. Eastern time, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 70 points at 13,952. The Standard and Poor's 500 rose 7 points to 1,507 points. But the Nasdaq composite dropped 2.52 to 3,152.

  • A federal judge has approved an agreement for BP PLC to plead guilty to manslaughter and other charges and pay a record $4 billion in criminal penalties for the company's role in the 2010 oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. BP agreed in November to plead guilty to charges involving 11 workers' deaths and for lying to Congress about the size of the spill from its broken well, which spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil.
  • Ford earned better-than-expected profits in 2012. Record results in North America trumped losses in Europe. Ford earned $5.66 billion for the year, down $300 million from a year ago, as a $1.75 billion loss in Europe took its toll. But Ford reported a record pretax profit of $8.3 billion in North America, where sales rose and Ford made more money on every vehicle it sold.
  • Drugmaker Pfizer Inc.'s fourth-quarter results easily beat Wall Street expectations, driving up its stock. Profit more than quadrupled due to tighter spending and a $4.8 billion gain from selling Pfizer's nutrition business. Those boosts offset competition from generic drugs hurting sales of Lipitor and other medicines. The world's biggest drugmaker says its net income was $6.32 billion, or 85 cents per share, up from $1.44 billion, or 19 cents per share, a year earlier.
  • Hostess Brands is reportedly close to announcing that it's picked two investment firms as the lead bidders for its Twinkies and other snack cakes. The firms are C. Dean Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management. After years of management turmoil and turnover, Hostess declared it was going out of business and selling its brands in November.

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