AP photos.

SMALLBIZ-FAMILY BUSINESS

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. â¿¿ If you want to go into business during tough economic times, you might want to do it with family. Businesses that are run by families often endure because their focus goes beyond the hard times. They see themselves not only as businesspeople looking to make a profit but as stewards who want to pass something onto their children. By Lisa Rathke.

AP photos.

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â¿¿ SMALLBIZ-LENDING â¿¿ Small business lending is showing small signs of growth, according to data compiled by the government. The total amount of small business loans outstanding at the end of the fourth quarter came to $586 billion, up from $584 billion in the third quarter, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

MARKETS & ECONOMY:

WALL STREET

NEW YORK â¿¿ Weak reports on hiring and service industries sent the stock market sharply lower, giving the Dow Jones industrial average its worst day in more than a month. By Markets Writer Steve Rothwell.

AP photo.

â¿¿ OIL PRICES â¿¿ The price of oil notches the biggest one-day drop since November, as supplies in the U.S. reached the highest level since July 1990. Benchmark oil for May delivery dropped 2.8 percent to close at $94.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

ECONOMY-SERVICES

WASHINGTON â¿¿ U.S. service companies expanded in March at a slower pace, dragged down by less growth in new orders and weaker hiring. The Institute for Supply Management says its index of non-manufacturing activity fell to 54.4 last month from 56 in February. Any reading above 50 signals expansion. March's figure is the lowest in seven months. By Economics Writer Christopher S. Rugaber.

â¿¿ HOME PRICES â¿¿ U.S. home prices jumped in February by the largest amount in seven years, evidence that the housing recovery strengthened ahead of the all-important spring-buying season.

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