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Business Highlights

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Hostess sale of Wonder bread nears completion

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Wonder bread could start appearing in school lunchboxes again soon.

A person familiar with the situation says a bid by Flowers Foods to buy Wonder and several other bread brands from bankrupt Hostess was met with no qualifying competing offers. The individual requested anonymity because the auction process is private.

Hostess hasn't been making any of its cakes and breads since late November, when the company announced it was going out of business and closed its plants following years of financial struggles. The shuttering included the loss of about 18,000 jobs.

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Italy turmoil raises questions about ECB backstop

ROME (AP) â¿¿ Why have Italy's muddled election results spooked global investors so much? Because they raise unsettling questions about the availability of the financial safety net that has kept Europe from catastrophe for the past six months.

That safety net is a crucial offer from the European Central Bank to buy unlimited quantities of struggling countries' bonds. The big catch was that participating countries had to commit to austerity measures â¿¿ such as spending cuts and tax increases to lower their deficits.

And if there's any clear message from the Italian elections, it's that voters rejected austerity.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 175.24 points, or 1.2 percent, to 14,075.37. The Standard and Poor's 500 index gained 19.05 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,515.99. The Nasdaq composite rose 32.61 points, or 1 percent, to 3,162.26.

Benchmark oil for April delivery rose 13 cents to finish at $92.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, fell 84 cents to end at $111.87 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange In London.

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