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AP Business NewsBrief at 10:23 a.m. EST
[January 22, 2013]

AP Business NewsBrief at 10:23 a.m. EST

(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) US home sales rose to 5-year high in 2012WASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. sales of previously occupied homes rose in 2012 to their highest level in five years, spurred higher by record-low mortgage rates and steady hiring. The National Association of Realtors said Tuesday that sales reached 4.65 million last year. That's up 9.2 percent from 2011 and the most since 2007. Sales are still below the roughly 5.5 million that are consistent with a healthy market.

Delta Air Lines clings to $7M profit in 4QMINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Delta Air Lines said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter profit was nearly wiped out by Superstorm Sandy and special charges. The storm forced airlines to cancel more than 20,000 flights. The impact was bigger at Delta because Sandy also slowed its operations at its new oil refinery near Philadelphia.

Verizon Communications 4Q loss widensNEW YORK (AP) _ Verizon Communications' fourth-quarter loss widened, dragged down by restructuring, pension and Superstorm Sandy costs. The company activated a record number of new devices on its contract-based plans during the period. The parent of the country's biggest wireless carrier lost $4.23 billion, or $1.48 per share, for the period ended Dec. 31. That compares with a loss of $2.02 billion or 71 cents per share, a year ago.

J&J 4Q profit jumps on higher sales, lower chargesNEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) _ Higher sales helped Johnson & Johnson post a much bigger fourth-quarter profit than a year ago, when a slew of charges depressed results. However, the company's 2013 profit forecast, for $5.35 to $5.45 per share, came up short of the average analyst estimate of $5.49.

US stocks edge down as DuPont, J&J report earningsU.S. stocks wavered between small gains and losses Tuesday as big companies reported their fourth-quarter financial results. The Dow Jones industrial average fell four points to 13,645 as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell two to 1,484. The Nasdaq composite average dropped five to 3,129.

Germany, France seek unity on EuropeBERLIN (AP) _ Germany and France will produce joint proposals on improving economic coordination in the European Union this spring, the countries' leaders said Tuesday, downplaying recent differences as they marked the 50th anniversary of a landmark reconciliation accord. Conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel and Socialist President Francois Hollande have often been openly at odds over how to resolve Europe's debt crisis since Hollande took office last year. Hollande has criticized Germany's austerity-led approach, while Merkel has resisted talk of pooling countries' debt.

Greek statistics head faces charges over revisionATHENS, Greece (AP) _ Greek prosecutors are recommending charges be brought against the head of the statistics agency and two other employees for allegedly inflating the country's 2009 deficit. The accusation stems from a 2010 revision which showed the deficit at 15.4 percent of the country's annual gross domestic product instead of 13.6 percent.

DuPont reports 4Q earnings droppedDOVER, Del. (AP) _ Chemical and bioscience company DuPont Co. says weakness in its performance chemicals and electronics and communications businesses, coupled with costs associated with growth initiatives, led to a sharp drop in fourth-quarter income. The company on Tuesday reported net income of $111 million, or 12 cents per share, for the last three months of 2012, down 70 percent from $373 million, or 40 cents per share, for the fourth quarter of 2011.

Algeria scouring Sahara for 5 missing foreignersALGIERS, Algeria (AP) _ Algerian forces are scouring the Sahara desert for five foreigners missing since Islamist militants attacked a remote natural gas plant, an official said Tuesday. An al-Qaida-affiliated band of fighters attacked the vast natural gas complex on Wednesday, killing 37 hostages, including an Algerian security guard, in a four-day standoff that ended after Algerian special forces stormed the plant.

Obama stands his ground on fiscal debatesWASHINGTON (AP) _ President Barack Obama devoted one word _ "deficit" _ to the issue that brought Washington to the brink of fiscal crises time and again during his first term. But it was the paragraph that followed in his inaugural address that foreshadowed what's to come _ more hard bargaining and more last-minute deals driven by Obama's own conviction that he now wields an upper hand.

(c) 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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