- Stocks have closed little changed on Wall Street as the S&P 500 eased just below a five-year high reached yesterday. The index slipped a fraction of a point to 1,472 today. The Dow Jones industrial average ended with the gain of 17 points at 13,488. And the Nasdaq composite rose nearly 4 points to close at 3,125.
- Oil prices are down today on concerns that China's government could limit economic stimulus measures because of higher inflation. Benchmark oil dropped 26 cents to finish at $93.56 a barrel in New York. A day earlier, a report showing a rebound in China's trade growth boosted oil because it suggested a possible recovery in global demand.
- Air Force leaders will make sweeping budget cuts in coming weeks, if Congress can't agree on a budget and billions of dollars in automatic cuts are triggered. The cuts would be achieved by cutting flying hours and preparing for a possible end to all noncombat or critical flights this summer. The Air Force secretary also laid out broad steps the service will be taking to enforce a civilian hiring freeze, cancel air show appearances and flyovers, and slash base improvements by about 50 percent.
- Taco Bell is testing a new value menu that could put it in more direct competition with the Dollar Menu at McDonald's. The Mexican-fast-food chain is testing a "$1 Cravings Menu" in two markets. It lists nine items, including three new offerings. If successful, it would replace the current value menu. The tests began in October in Fresno, California, and Knoxville, Tennessee.
- BP is urging a federal judge to rule the company can't be penalized for millions of gallons of oil that spewed from its blown-out well but was captured before it could spill into the Gulf of Mexico. A criminal settlement with the Justice Department in November didn't resolve the government's civil claims against BP.
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