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TREASURY

Prices dip on signs of stabilizing job market

NEW YORK | U.S. Treasury prices fell on signs that the labor market might be on the mend.

Traders often move money into Treasuries when they are nervous about the health of the economy. Signs that the economy is improving lead them to sell bonds.

The price of the 10-year Treasury note fell 40.62 cents for every $100 invested Thursday. That pushed the yield up to 3.41 percent from 3.36 percent late Wednesday. Bond yields rise when their prices fall.

The 30-year bond fell 25 cents, sending the yield up to 4.47 percent from 4.44 percent the day before.

EURO

6 non-euro countries join ‘pact for the euro’

BRUSSELS | The president of the European Council says six non-euro countries have decided to join an agreement by eurozone leaders to make their economies more competitive.

Herman Van Rompuy said in a Twitter message that Poland, Bulgaria, Denmark, Romania, Malta and Cyprus will join the so-called “pact for the euro.”

As part of the pact, leaders commit their countries to hit annual benchmarks on aligning salaries with actual increases in productivity and getting rid of early retirement ages.

The pact was originally designed for the 17 countries that use the euro, since the common currency makes their economies very dependent on each other. However, non-euro countries were invited to join.

OIL

Crude settles below $106 a barrel

NEW YORK | After government reports gave a mixed read on the U.S. economic recovery, oil prices on Thursday settled close to where they began.

The Commerce Department said companies trimmed orders for manufactured goods in February, suggesting that businesses were limiting spending. Meanwhile the Labor Department said fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, indicating that employers could be expanding their work forces.

Benchmark crude prices fluctuated as traders digested the news, rising as high as $106.69 a barrel before dropping back. The contract for May delivery fell 15 cents to settle at $105.60 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Prices have jumped 24 percent since the middle of February, when rebellion broke out in Libya and eventually squeezed off production that supplied nearly 2 percent of the world’s oil.

BOEING

FedEx orders 4 Boeing 777s

CHICAGO | Boeing Co. says cargo hauler FedEx has ordered four more of its 777s.

The order would be worth almost $1.08 billion at list prices for the freighter version, although discounts are common.

Boeing had previously shown the orders as for an unidentified customer. FedEx now has 17 of the planes on order.

Freighters are a big part of Boeing’s airplane business. Last week, Korean Air ordered two more 747-8 freighters, worth a total of $639 million at list prices.

ACQUISITION

Walgreen to buy retailer drugstore.com

NEW YORK | Drugstore operator Walgreen Co. said Thursday it will spend about $429 million to buy online retailer drugstore.com in a deal that gives it access to 3 million online customers.

The largest U.S. drugstore operator will give drugstore.com shareholders $3.80 in cash for each share of stock — more than double the $1.79 closing price of drugstore.com’s stock on Wednesday. In afternoon trading Thursday, the stock jumped $1.98 to $3.77.

The acquisition will add about 60,000 products to Walgreen’s online offerings, and the Deerfield, Ill., company said it will significantly speed up its online strategy. Drugstore.com is one of the largest online health and beauty retailers, and Walgreen has said those products are an important part of its strategy. Drugstore.com’s websites include Beauty.com, SkinStore.com and VisionDirect.com. Despite its name, it does not have a pharmacy business, as it sold that division in July 2010.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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