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  • Virginia updates drought advisories Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 1:19 PM ET

    RICHMOND, Va.-- Virginia is easing drought advisories for central Virginia and the northern Piedmont region, but keeping a watch in place for the Roanoke River region. The region includes 10 counties, from Appomattox to Prince Edward, and the cities of Colonial Heights, Petersburg and Hopewell.

  • BPA proposes 10-year contract with Alcoa smelter Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 1:18 PM ET

    BELLINGHAM, Wash.-- The Bonneville Power Administration has proposed a 10- year power sales agreement with Alcoa Inc.' s Intalco smelter in Ferndale. The Portland- based federal power marketing agency is taking public comment on the proposal through Nov. 7. The BPA says the deal should help maintain the 625 jobs at the smelter six miles north of Bellingham.

  • NH Gov: $13.8 million surplus at fiscal year's end Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 1:16 PM ET

    John Lynch said Wednesday that New Hampshire is in pretty good financial shape after achieving a $13.8 million budget surplus in the fiscal year that ended June 30. He said the surplus was notable given that there was a $22 million shortfall in Medicaid enhancement tax revenues and a $12 million drop in tobacco tax revenue.

  • Dollar trades in tight ranges ahead of Beige Book Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 1:06 PM ET

    The euro rose to $1.2888 in afternoon trading from $1.2880 late Tuesday. The British pound slipped to $1.6003 from $1.6004. The dollar rose to 78.24 Japanese yen from 78.22 yen.

  • Darling's shares fall following analyst downgrade Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 1:03 PM ET

    Shares of Darling International slumped 7 percent Wednesday following a downgrade by a BMO Capital Markets. THE ANALYSIS: Zaslow lowered his 2012 earnings estimate to $1.17 from $1.21 and his 2013 estimate to $1.40 from $1.55. SHARE ACTION: Darling International Inc. fell $1.14 to $16.41 by midday.

  • Red Cross launches first Spain crisis fund Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 11:54 AM ET

    MADRID-- The Spanish Red Cross on Wednesday launched its first-ever campaign for donations to help Spaniards hit by economic crisis, in a sign of how needy this nation has become. The Red Cross and other aid groups say soaring unemployment and government austerity measures are leaving tens of thousands of people in need of food and financial help.

  • Stocks down again at midday Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 11:47 AM ET

    NEW YORK-- Stocks are down again on Wall Street, this time because of the prospect of weaker earnings for Alcoa and Chevron. Just before the lunch hour, the Dow Jones industrial average is down 67 points at 13,406. The Standard& Poor's 500 index is down three at 1,437. And the Nasdaq composite index is off three at 3,061..

  • *Cyprus aims to boost small businesses, jobs growth Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 11:44 AM ET
  • Franco-Swiss drug, money laundering ring broken up Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 11:39 AM ET

    PARIS-- French and Swiss prosecutors say they've dismantled a major drug trafficking and money laundering network, arresting 20 people on Wednesday, including employees of a finance company and major international bank.

  • Analyst downgrades Home Depot after strong gains Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 11:33 AM ET

    NEW YORK-- Home Depot, the largest U.S. home-improvement retailer, should benefit substantially from the expected housing market recovery, according to an Oppenheimer analyst. But until the recovery starts to gain traction, Home Depot's shares are expected to trade sideways, the analyst said Wednesday, and downgraded the stock.

  • Progressive 3Q profit jumps on investment gains Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 11:29 AM ET

    MAYFIELD VILLAGE, Ohio-- Auto insurer Progressive said Wednesday that its third-quarter net income jumped 84 percent, boosted by gains on its investments. Progressive earned $277 million, or 46 cents per share, in the three months ended in September, up from $150.7 million, or 24 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.

  • Iraq officially retreats from ambitious oil plans Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 11:28 AM ET

    BAGHDAD-- Iraq officially stepped back on Wednesday from its ambitious plans to more than triple its oil production by 2017, but it remains more optimistic than the world's leading global energy monitor about how fast and how high it can boost output.

  • France, Spain: Europe must keep promises in crisis Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 11:26 AM ET

    PARIS-- The leaders of France and Spain said Wednesday that the 17 countries that use the euro already have all the tools they need to solve their debt crisis and now must put their promises into action.

  • Nigeria president proposes $29.3B national budget Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 11:17 AM ET

    ABUJA, Nigeria-- Nigeria's president proposes a $29.3 billion federal budget in 2013 for the oil-producing nation, predicting a slight increase in the crude produced each month. President Goodluck Jonathan presented his budget Wednesday to a rare sitting of both chambers of the nation's National Assembly.

  • Romney's Bain advisers aided China, Russia growth Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 11:16 AM ET

    WASHINGTON-- As Bain& Co. head in the early 1990 s, Mitt Romney presided over the corporate strategy firm's expanding operations into China and Russia, helping their initial attempts to move into the world's free market system. In his campaign, China and Russia are prime targets for criticism.

  • Wal-Mart to accelerate small store growth Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 11:09 AM ET

    NEW YORK-- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is accelerating the expansion of small stores, particularly its Neighborhood Market stores, as it looks to compete with a variety of rivals from dollar stores to drug chains.

  • Willie Geist joins 'Today' show Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 11:06 AM ET

    NEW YORK-- Willie Geist will no longer have to be at work way too early. The MSNBC personality will join Al Roker and Natalie Morales as a host of the 9 a.m. hour of the "Today" show, and contribute to the program during its first two hours, NBC News said Wednesday. "There is a sense of just loosening up the show a bit," said Geist, son of CBS News reporter Bill Geist. "

  • Beatles romp at latest Woodstock Film Festival Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 11:04 AM ET

    Also highlighted at the film festival this year will be "Vamps," director Amy Heckerling's comedic take on the travails of club-hopping vampires, which reunites her with "Clueless" star Alicia Silverstone.

  • SpaceX Dragon capsule arrives at space station Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 10:59 AM ET

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.-- A private company successfully delivered a half-ton of supplies to the International Space Station early Wednesday, the first official shipment under a billion-dollar contract with NASA. Williams thanked SpaceX and NASA for the delivery, especially the chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream stashed in a freezer.

  • Burton's 'Frankenweenie' opens London Film Fest Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 | 10:56 AM ET

    LONDON-- This year's London Film Festival has Ben Affleck, Dustin Hoffman and the Rolling Stones _ and it's bookended by one of the city's premiere cinematic couples. Britain's biggest film showcase opens Wednesday with the European premiere of London- based American director Tim Burton's "Frankenweenie," the animated tale of a boy and his beloved _ but dead _ dog.