BC-US--Business Features Digest, US

The business news enterprise package planned through March 5. Comments or questions should be directed to Tali Arbel by calling 212-621-7629 or Joseph Pisani at ext. 1975. Questions about photos should be directed to Chris Hatch at ext. 7626. For questions about graphics, call ext. 7636. Repeats of stories are available from http://apexchange.com or the Service Desk, 1-800-838-4616.

Eds: Adds WALL STREET WEEK AHEAD, sent Friday; SMALL CLAIMS VS BIG COMPANIES, sent Friday; DAVID STOCKMAN-Q&A, sent Friday; OIL-CHANGING PLAINS, sent Friday.

WALL STREET WEEK AHEAD

NEW YORK â¿¿ What's not to like about Dow 13,000? While most of Wall Street cheered when the index closed above that level this week for the first time since 2008, some are wringing their hands. The Dow is leaving other indexes in the dust, like the curiously sluggish one tracking shipping companies â¿¿ a bad sign for stocks. A rundown on a few odd market moves that have even the bulls concerned. By Bernard Condon.

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SMALL CLAIMS VS BIG COMPANIES

NEW YORK â¿¿If you feel cheated by a big company and complaining gets you nowhere, what do you do? A few recent cases demonstrate that consumers can, if they're motivated enough, win small-claims cases against big companies. These "David versus Goliath" battles were won against the likes of AT&T, Honda and others without lawyers. The plaintiffs paid minor filing fees, gathered their own research and presented arguments in quick hearings that resemble the average "Judge Judy" episode. Thanks to the Internet, these victors are connecting with other consumers in an attempt to help them achieve the same success. By Peter Svensson.

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AP photos.

DAVID STOCKMAN-Q&A

NEW YORK â¿¿ He was an architect of one of the biggest tax cuts in U.S. history and made a fortune in corporate buyouts. But these days David Stockman is a different man â¿¿ an advocate for higher taxes, a critic of the work that made him rich and a scared investor who doesn't own a single stock for fear of another financial crisis. Some questions and answers with the former White House budget director, including why he thinks you'd be a fool to hold a stock today. Or anything other than a few bars of gold. By Bernard Condon.

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AP photos.

GAS PRICES-ECONOMY

NEW YORK â¿¿ The price of gas has jumped 45 cents since Jan. 1 and is the highest on record for this time of year, an average of $3.73 a gallon. On Wall Street, talk has turned from the European debt crisis to another worry: Will higher gas prices derail the economic recovery? Not yet, economists say. They argue that the United States is in much better shape than early last year, when a similar surge in fuel prices cut spending elsewhere in the economy and weighed down growth. By Business Writers Matthew Craft and Christopher S. Rugaber.

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AP Photo.

OIL-CHANGING PLAINS

SIDNEY, Mont. â¿¿ Crude oil from the booming oil fields in the Northern Plains has brought sudden wealth and thousands of new jobs to a vast expanse of Montana and North Dakota. But exuberance for the boom is being tested by the random kidnapping and apparent murder of a popular Sidney, Mont., high school teacher by two men who came from Colorado looking for work in the oil fields. Sidney's mayor says the chilling crime underscores the need for more tax revenues from oil production to be returned to the communities that are feeling the brunt of the boom's impacts. By Matthew Brown.

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AP photos.

RISING FARES

DALLAS â¿¿ Fares are up and they're headed even higher this summer. Blame rising jet fuel prices, They're costing airlines millions more than last year and aren't expected to come down anytime soon. That means ticket prices, which normally rise as the summer travel season nears, could increase faster than normal. Airlines have already pushed throughout two major this year during a slow travel period. If they raise ticket prices too much, too quickly, they risk a slowdown in travel demand. By Airlines Writer David Koenig.

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AUTOS-HIRING BINGE

DETROIT â¿¿ Auto sales are growing so fast that Detroit can barely keep up. Three years after the U.S. auto industry nearly collapsed, sales of cars and trucks are surging. So carmakers are adding shifts and hiring thousands of workers around the country. By Auto Writer Tom Krisher.

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AP Photos.

SILICON VALLEY-THE OTHER HALF

MENLO PARK, Calif. â¿¿ Money and jobs abound in Silicon Valley for people with the right high-tech or business skills. For those who don't have such skills, the Great Recession has meant the same challenge as anywhere else in the country. As per capita income rises in the region, the median income has fallen, suggesting that as some people are getting richer, more are making less. By Marcus Wohlsen.

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AP Photos.

ROBERT SHILLER-Q&A

WASHINGTON â¿¿ He predicted the tech-stock collapse. He foresaw the housing bust. So naturally, everyone wants to know what Robert Shiller thinks of today's stock prices, perched at a four-year high. Or about the direction of home prices. Keep your hopes in check. Shiller is disinclined these days to offer specific predictions about the direction of stocks, home prices or any other asset whose prices can surge or plunge before we can fully grasp what's happening. By Derek Kravitz.

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With:

â¿¿ Shiller-Bio Box

SECOND BREAKFAST

NEW YORK â¿¿ Sometimes one breakfast just isn't enough. So why not have two, three or four? Increasingly, on-the-go Americans are eating their morning calories over the several hours before lunch. It's a result of two trends: people are being encouraged to eat several smaller meals instead of three squares a day and food makers have rolled out lots of morning snacks or "fourth meal" options. By Food Industry Writer Candice Choi.

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AP photos.

RETIREMENT TODAY-WITHDRAWAL STRATEGY

CHICAGO â¿¿ Avoiding the nightmare financial scenario in retirement â¿¿ running out of money â¿¿ is getting trickier. Rising life expectancy, disappearing pensions and a more cautious outlook for stock returns all make it essential for retirees to know how fast they can safely draw down their savings. We address the issue in a Q&A with the father of the classic 4 percent rule for withdrawals, planner Bill Bengen. By Personal Finance Writer Dave Carpenter.

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AP Photo.

ITALY-COSTA FUTURE

MILAN â¿¿ Costa Crociere SpA, the largest cruise ship brand in Europe, is facing a legal and public relations nightmare after seeing two high-profile disasters on its luxury liners barely six weeks apart. Industry experts say Costa's survival after 60 years in the passenger ship business could depend on the company changing its name or getting a bailout from its parent, U.S.-based Carnival. By Business Writer Colleen Barry.

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AP Photos.

SPAIN-LOST GENERATION

MADRID â¿¿ Daniel Lorente has worked construction, flipped burgers at McDonald's, been a camp counselor, telemarketing representative and doorman. He is stuck among Spain's "Lost Generation" of 20-somethings, with no work and no real prospects in sight: Roughly half of all Spaniards between 16 and 24 are jobless, the highest level among the 17 nations that use the euro. It's a devastating picture of blighted youth that threatens to distort Spain's social fabric for years to come, dooming dreams, straining family structures and eroding the well-being of a rapidly aging population. By Alan Clendenning And Harold Heckle.

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AP Photos.

FRANCE-VILLAGE FOR SALE

COURBEFY, France ⿿ The village of Courbefy has rustic buildings with fireplaces and exposed beams, a horse stable, a tennis court and a swimming pool. Sound nice? It's for sale. The entire hamlet carried an asking price of just ⿬300,000 ($400,000) ⿿ about the cost of a studio apartment in Paris. But nobody bid ⿿ in a sign of bleak times. By Sarah Dilorenzo.

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AP Photos.

COLUMNS

SMALL TALK

Advocates for small business aren't happy with President Barack Obama's proposal to lower the federal corporate tax rate. They say the plan would benefit a relatively low number of small companies and leave many business owners with higher tax bills. But Obama's proposal only affects companies known as C corporations, which are structured like General Motors Co., Apple Inc. and other large companies. These companies pay taxes on the money they earn. By Joyce Rosenberg.

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OF MUTUAL INTEREST-OIL'S RISE

BOSTON â¿¿ There's a flip side to the $4-a-gallon gas that drivers can expect soon. It's the opportunity that costlier fuel creates for investors. Yet this year's 10 percent jump in oil prices has done little to lift the stocks of big oil producers. Exxon Mobil and Chevron are barely up, and are lagging the broader market. A look at the outlook for oil stock according to top mutual fund managers, including a specialist in energy stocks. By Personal Finance Writer Mark Jewell.

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AP Photos.

ON THE MONEY-CHOOSING HEALTH INSURANCE

Help is on the way for consumers flummoxed by health insurance forms, but they'll need to be patient. The healthcare overhaul, which aims to provide coverage for millions of uninsured, requires private health plans to offer a user-friendly coverage summary. This form must explain key terms and cost details, but insurers won't have to comply until September. In the meantime, here are some key points to keep in mind when picking a new plan. By Business Writer Tom Murphy.

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The AP.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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