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AP Financial News Summary at 12:05 p.m. EST

February 22, 2006

Three Lead Paint Makers Are Found Guilty

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Three former makers of lead paint created a public nuisance that continues to poison children, a jury decided Wednesday in the state’s landmark lawsuit against the companies.

Harrah’s Logs Substantial 4Q Loss

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LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Casino operator Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. on Wednesday posted a hefty fourth-quarter loss, hurt mostly by hurricane-related expenses and costs from writing off a property it plans to sell.

No. 2 Person Leaving Federal Reserve Board

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Federal Reserve Governor Roger Ferguson, who played a key role in shepherding the nation’s financial system through the 2001 terror attacks, announced Wednesday that he will leave the central bank near the end of April.

Surging Energy Costs Push Inflation Up

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Consumer prices shot up in January at the fastest pace in four months as the cost of gasoline and electricity posted big gains.

Stocks Inch Up on Tame Core Inflation Data

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks edged higher Wednesday after the Labor Department reported core inflation rose only moderately in January.

Dow Jones Announces New Structure

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Financial news publisher Dow Jones & Co. announced a new organization Wednesday that will divide the company into three business units, one of which will include the print and online editions of The Wall Street Journal.

Taser’s 4Q Profit Plummets 98 Percent

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) _ Stun-gun maker Taser International Inc. reported Wednesday its fourth-quarter profit dropped 98 percent on lower sales and higher expenses, as the company fought lawsuits during the period.

Sprint Nextel Posts 55 Percent Profit Drop

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RESTON, Va. (AP) _ Sprint Nextel Corp. reported Wednesday a 55 percent drop in fourth-quarter net income, dragged down by merger costs.

Martha Stewart Living Swings to 4Q Profit

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. swung to a fourth-quarter profit, helped by a continued rebound in advertising revenue at its flagship Martha Stewart Living magazine.

Gutierrez: Pirated Software ‘Unacceptable’

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ The administration is not satisfied with China’s progress in cracking down on rampant piracy of American copyrighted material, and one of the biggest offenders is the Chinese government, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press.

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