Wall Street Week Ahead: Bears hibernate as stocks near record highs

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks have been on a tear in January, moving major indexes within striking distance of all-time highs. The bearish case is a difficult one to make right now.

Earnings have exceeded expectations, the housing and labor markets have strengthened, lawmakers in Washington no longer seem to be the roadblock that they were for most of 2012, and money has returned to stock funds again.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> has gained 5.4 percent this year and closed above 1,500 - climbing to the spot where Wall Street strategists expected it to be by mid-year. The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> is 2.2 percent away from all-time highs reached in October 2007. The Dow ended Friday's session at 13,895.98, its highest close since October 31, 2007.

The S&P has risen for four straight weeks and eight consecutive sessions, the longest streak of days since 2004. On Friday, the benchmark S&P 500 ended at 1,502.96 - its first close above 1,500 in more than five years.

"Once we break above a resistance level at 1,510, we dramatically increase the probability that we break the highs of 2007," said Walter Zimmermann, technical analyst at United-ICAP, in Jersey City, New Jersey. "That may be the start of a rise that could take equities near 1,800 within the next few years."

The most recent Reuters poll of Wall Street strategists estimated the benchmark index would rise to 1,550 by year-end, a target that is 3.1 percent away from current levels. That would put the S&P 500 a stone's throw from the index's all-time intraday high of 1,576.09 reached on October 11, 2007.

The new year has brought a sharp increase in flows into U.S. equity mutual funds, and that has helped stocks rack up four straight weeks of gains, with strength in big- and small-caps alike.

That's not to say there aren't concerns. Economic growth has been steady, but not as strong as many had hoped. The household unemployment rate remains high at 7.8 percent. And more than 75 percent of the stocks in the S&P 500 are above their 26-week highs, suggesting the buying has come too far, too fast.


All 10 S&P 500 industry sectors are higher in 2013, in part because of new money flowing into equity funds. Investors in U.S.-based funds committed $3.66 billion to stock mutual funds in the latest week, the third straight week of big gains for the funds, data from Thomson Reuters' Lipper service showed on Thursday.

Energy shares <.5sp10> lead the way with a gain of 6.6 percent, followed by industrials <.5sp20>, up 6.3 percent. Telecom <.5sp50>, a defensive play that underperforms in periods of growth, is the weakest sector - up 0.1 percent for the year.

More than 350 stocks hit new highs on Friday alone on the New York Stock Exchange. The Dow Jones Transportation Average <.djt> recently climbed to an all-time high, with stocks in this sector and other economic bellwethers posting strong gains almost daily.

"If you peel back the onion a little bit, you start to look at companies like Precision Castparts , Honeywell , 3M Co and Illinois Tool Works - these are big, broad-based industrial companies in the U.S. and they are all hitting new highs, and doing very well. That is the real story," said Mike Binger, portfolio manager at Gradient Investments, in Shoreview, Minnesota.

The gains have run across asset sizes as well. The S&P small-cap index <.spcy> has jumped 6.7 percent and the S&P mid-cap index <.mid> has shot up 7.5 percent so far this year.

Exchange-traded funds have seen year-to-date inflows of $15.6 billion, with fairly even flows across the small-, mid- and large-cap categories, according to Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at the ConvergEx Group, in New York.

"Investors aren't really differentiating among asset sizes. They just want broad equity exposure," Colas said.

The market has shown resilience to weak news. On Thursday, the S&P 500 held steady despite a 12 percent slide in shares of Apple after the iPhone and iPad maker's results. The tech giant is heavily weighted in both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 <.ndx> and in the past, its drop has suffocated stocks' broader gains.


In the last few days, the ratio of stocks hitting new highs versus those hitting new lows on a daily basis has started to diminish - a potential sign that the rally is narrowing to fewer names - and could be running out of gas.

Investors have also cited sentiment surveys that indicate high levels of bullishness among newsletter writers, a contrarian indicator, and momentum indicators are starting to also suggest the rally has perhaps come too far.

The market's resilience could be tested next week with Friday's release of the January non-farm payrolls report. About 155,000 jobs are seen being added in the month and the unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 7.8 percent.

"Staying over 1,500 sends up a flag of profit taking," said Jerry Harris, president of asset management at Sterne Agee, in Birmingham, Alabama. "Since recent jobless claims have made us optimistic on payrolls, if that doesn't come through, it will be a real risk to the rally."

A number of marquee names will report earnings next week, including bellwether companies such as Caterpillar Inc , Amazon.com Inc , Ford Motor Co and Pfizer Inc .

On a historic basis, valuations remain relatively low - the S&P 500's current price-to-earnings ratio sits at 15.66, which is just a tad above the historic level of 15.

Worries about the U.S. stock market's recent strength do not mean the market is in a bubble. Investors clearly don't feel that way at the moment.

"We're seeing more interest in equities overall, and a lot of flows from bonds into stocks," said Paul Zemsky, who helps oversee $445 billion as the New York-based head of asset allocation at ING Investment Management. "We've been increasing our exposure to risky assets."

For the week, the Dow climbed 1.8 percent, the S&P 500 rose 1.1 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 0.5 percent.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)

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Azarenka secures back-to-back Australian titles

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Victoria Azarenka won her second consecutive Australian Open title, beating Li Na 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in a dramatic final that contained a break for fireworks, two medical timeouts and a nasty fall to the court by Li.

The Chinese star first tumbled to the court after twisting her left ankle in the fifth game of the second set and had it taped.

On the first point after a 10-minute pause in the third set while fireworks boomed overhead from nearby Australia Day celebrations, Li fell over again and slammed the back of her head on the court. The 2011 French Open champion was treated immediately and had another timeout before being allowed to resume the match.

Azarenka, who broke down in tears and sobbed into her towel when the match ended, won five of the next six games to claim her second major title and retain the No. 1 ranking.

"Unfortunately, you have to go through some rough patches to achieve great things. That's what makes it so special for me," she said. "I went through that, and I'm still able to kiss that beautiful trophy."

Serena Williams, who lost in the quarterfinals, will become the new No. 2 in the rankings.

The 2-hour, 40-minute match featured 16 service breaks, with Li losing her service nine times.

On a crisp Saturday night, Azarenka won the coin toss and elected to receive, a ploy that seemed to work when a nervous Li was broken to start the match. After a double fault on the first point, Li's forehand long gave Azarenka the early lead.

When she first injured her ankle, Li was trailing 3-1 in the second set. When she came back, she won three of the next four games to level the set at 4-4, but Azarenka broke back and then held her serve to level the match.

Azarenka broke in the opening game of the final set, just two games before the match was suspended for the fireworks, a planned stoppage of play that both players were notified about before the match.

While Azarenka jogged around and practiced her serving motion during the 10-minute fireworks break, Li sat on her courtside chair for most of the stoppage.

It was on the first point that she again fell to the court.

Li said she went "totally black" for two seconds after her head hit the court, and when a medical official asked her to follow her finger, "I started laughing, thinking 'This is a tennis court, not like a hospital.'"

Li said the tournament doctor saw her after the match and checked out her head and neck.

"I should be OK,' Li said.

From the outset, the capacity crowd at Rod Laver Arena was firmly behind Li, cheering loudly when she was introduced. Azarenka, meanwhile, had her errors applauded, and one spectator even mocked the loud hooting sound she makes when she hits a shot.

The chill from the crowd was a remnant of Azarenka's semifinal win over American teenager Sloane Stephens, when Azarenka was criticized for taking a questionable 10-minute medical timeout near the end of the match. She was accused of taking the time out to compose herself after she'd wasted five match points while serving for the match against Stephens, although Azarenka said she needed the time out because a rib injury was making it difficult for her to breathe.

In the second set Saturday, a few fans heckled Azarenka over the incident. One man yelled, "Take a deep breath, Vicky."

By the end of the match, she appeared to have won some of the fans back. Azarenka's friend, rapper Redfoo, yelled down to her from the player box "You deserve it," and she later blew kisses to the crowd. Someone else in the crowd shouted "Victoria, we love you."

Azarekna appeared to quickly forgive the crowd, saying during the trophy presentations that she wanted to thank the fans for their support.

"I will always keep very special memories of this court and it will be in my heart forever," she said, pausing several times to find the right words. "Of course, I (almost) forgot to say congratulations to Li Na, she's had a terrific start to the year ... hope to see you in many, many more finals."

Azarenka and Li had met twice before in Grand Slam tournaments, with Li winning both times — in the fourth round of the 2011 Australian Open and quarterfinals at the French Open. Li lost the 2011 Australian Open final to Kim Clijsters but won her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros a few months later, beating Francesca Schiavone.

But after failing to advance past the fourth round at any major in 2012, Li hired Carlos Rodriguez, Justine Henin's former coach. The hard training he's put her through in the past four months appears to be paying dividends.

Li won a WTA tournament in China before travelling to Australia, where she advanced to the semifinals at the Sydney International.

In the men's final on Sunday, Novak Djokovic will attempt to win his third consecutive Australian Open against U.S. Open champion Andy Murray. Djokovic has had the benefit of an extra day off after an easy three-set win over David Ferrer on Thursday night, while Murray needed a tough five-setter to defeat Roger Federer.

Murray has predicted a tough match with long rallies against Djokovic, the player he beat in the final at Flushing Meadows in September.

"I'm ready for the pain," he said. "I hope it's a painful match, that will mean it will be a good one."

In the other final Sunday to end the year's first Grand Slam, the unseeded pairs of Jarmila Gajdosova and Matthew Ebden of Australia and the Czech Republic's Lucie Hradecka and Frantisek Cermak play for the mixed doubles championship.

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Supergiant Star Betelgeuse to Crash Into Cosmic ‘Wall’

The red supergiant star Betelgeuse in the famed constellation Orion is on a collision course with a strange wall of interstellar dust, with the clock ticking down to a cataclysmic cosmic smashup in 5,000 years, scientists say.

A new image of Betelgeuse by the European Space Agency’s infrared Herschel space observatory, shows that the star will crash headlong into a trail of space dust while speeding through its part of the cosmos at a blistering 18.6 miles (30 kilometers) per second. That’s about 66,960 mph (107,761 kph).

Betelgeuse is a giant star that makes up the left shoulder of the Orion constellation and can easily be seen from Earth with the unaided eye by observers in the Northern Hemisphere. The star appears as a reddish-orange light above and to the left of Orion’s belt.

The new Herschel observatory image shows Betelgeuse as a bright disk surrounded by a shield-like arc of gas as it approaches an odd bar-like wall of dust.

The curved “shield” formations to the left of the star are actually structures shaped by Betelgeuse’s solar wind — the charged particles each star emits and blows out into the galaxy, ESA officials said. But the wall of dust the star will crash into may be anything, from a filament linked to the galaxy’s magnetic field to a stellar cloud. Scientists do not think the dust wall is part of the Betelgeuse star structure.

After the first bow of solar wind hits the line of dust in 5,000 years, Betelgeuse itself should run into the bar 12,500 years after that.

Betelgeuse is about 100,000 times brighter than the sun and 1,000 times larger. If Betelgeuse was at the center of the Earth’s solar system, it would extend out to the orbit of Jupiter, astronomers have said. In about 1 million years, when the star uses up its nuclear fuel, Betelgeuse will shed the last of its layers in a bright and violent explosion known as a supernova.

The Herschel space observatory launched 2009 to study the formation of galaxies and how stars interact with its surroundings.

Follow Miriam Kramer on Twitter @mirikramer or SPACE.com @Spacedotcom. We’re also on Facebook & Google+

Copyright 2013 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Can sanctions deter North Korea?

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

























  • N. Korea said Thursday it plans to carry out new nuclear test and more long-range rocket launches

  • It said they are part of new phase of confrontation with United States

  • George A. Lopez says North Korea's aim is to be recognized as a 'new nuclear nation by fait accompli'

  • The Security Council sanctions aim to deteriorate and disrupt N. Korea's programs, says Lopez

Editor's note: George A. Lopez holds the Hesburgh Chair in Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute, University of Notre Dame. He is a former member, UN Panel of Experts on DPRK.

Indiana, U.S. (CNN) -- North Korea has responded to new Security Council sanctions condemning its December 12 rocket launch with a declaration that it plans a third nuclear test and more missile launches. Politically, it has made unambiguous that its "aim" is its enemy, the United States.

In this rapid reaction to U.N. sanctions, the young government of Kim Jong Un underscores what Security Council members have long known anticipated from the DPRK. Their end-game is to create a vibrant, integrated missile and nuclear weapons program that will result - as in the cases of Pakistan and India - in their being recognized as a new nuclear nation by fait accompli.

Read more: North Korea says new nuclear test will be part of fight against U.S.

In light of DPRK defiance - and a soon to occur nuclear test - the Security Council's first set of sanctions on North Korea since 2009 may seem absurd and irrelevant. These sanctions will certainly not prevent a new DPRK nuclear test. Rather, the new sanctions resolution mobilizes regional neighbors and global actors to enforce sanctions that can weaken future DPRK programs and actions.

Read more: U.N. Security Council slams North Korea, expands sanctions

The utility, if not the necessity, of these Security Council sanctions are to deteriorate and disrupt the networks that sustain North Korea's programs. Chances of this degradation of DPRK capabilities have increased as the new sanctions both embolden and empower the member states who regularly observe - but do nothing about - suspicious vessels in their adjacent waterways.

The resolution provides new guidance to states regarding ship interdiction, cargo inspections, and the seizure and disposal of prohibited materials. Regarding nuclear and missile development the sanctions expand the list of material banned for trade to DPRK, including high tech, dual-use goods which might aid missile industries.

Read more: South Korean officials: North Korean rocket could hit U.S. mainland

These new measures provide a better structure for more effective sanctions, by naming new entities, such as a bank and trading companies, as well as individuals involved in the illicit financing of prohibited materials, to the sanctions list. To the surprise of many in the diplomatic community - the Council authorizes states to expose and confiscate North Korea's rather mobile "bulk cash." Such currency stocks have been used in many regions to facilitate purchases of luxury goods and other banned items that sustain the DPRK elites.

Finally, the Security Council frees the Sanctions Committee to act more independently and in a timely manner to add entities to the list of sanctioned actors when evidence shows them to be sanctions violators. This is an extensive hunting license for states in the region that can multiply the costs of sanctions to the DPRK over time.

Read more: North Korea's rocket launches cost $1.3 billion

Whatever their initial limitations, the new round of U.N. sanctions serve as a springboard to more robust measures by various regional and global powers which may lead back to serious negotiations with DPRK.

Despite its bluster and short-term action plan, Pyongyang recognizes that the wide space of operation for its policies it assumed it had a week ago, is now closed considerably. To get this kind of slap-down via this Security Council resolution - when the launch was a month ago - predicts that any nuke test or missile launch from Pyongyang will bring a new round of stronger and more targeted sanctions.

Read more: North Korea silences doubters, raises fears with rocket launch

Although dangerous - a new game is on regarding DPRK. Tougher U.N. measures imposed on the North generated a predictable response and likely new, prohibited action. While DPRK may be enraged, these sanctions have the P5 nations, most notably China, newly engaged. A forthcoming test or launch will no doubt increase tensions on both sides.

But this may be precisely the shock needed to restart the Six Party Talks. Without this institutional framework there is little chance of influencing DPRK actions. And in the meantime, the chances of greater degrading of DPRK capabilities via sanctions, are a sensible next best action.

Read more: Huge crowds gather in North Korean capital to celebrate rocket launch

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of George A. Lopez.

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3 dead, 2 wounded in pair of early morning shootings

Photo: Three men were shot outside of a diner in the Bridgeport neighborhood

Photo: Three men were shot outside of a diner in the Bridgeport neighborhood
(Peter Nickeas / January 26, 2013)

Two shootings on the South and West sides left three people dead and two wounded Saturday morning. 

Three men were shot outside of a diner at the corner of Wallace Street and Pershing Road in the Bridgeport neighborhood about 4 a.m. Saturday, police said. Two men died at the scene. 

At the north end of the 1100 block of South Mozart Street in the Lawndale neighborhood, two people were shot. One also died there, police said. That happened about 2:15 a.m. 

Check back for more information. 


Twitter: @PeterNickeas

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At least 22 die in Egyptian clashes over death sentences

PORT SAID, Egypt/CAIRO (Reuters) - At least 22 people died on Saturday when Egyptians rampaged in protest at the sentencing of 21 people to death over a soccer stadium disaster, adding to bloody street turmoil confronting Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.

Armored vehicles and military police fanned through the streets of Port Said after the violence. The state news agency quoted a general as saying the military aimed to "establish calm and stability in Port Said and to protect public institutions".

The unrest began with nationwide rallies on Friday to mark the second anniversary of the overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, a democratic uprising that protesters now accuse Mursi of betraying by ramming through an Islamist-hued constitution.

While anniversary-related violence subsided, a new flare-up hit Port Said after a court sentenced 21 men to die for involvement in the deaths of 74 people after a local soccer match on February 1, 2012, many of them fans of the visiting team.

Residents ran wildly through the streets of Port Said in rage that men from their city had been blamed for the stadium disaster, and gunshots were reported near the prison where most of the defendants were being held.

State television, citing the Health Ministry, said 22 people were killed and more than 200 wounded. Security sources said at least two of the dead were policemen.

A witness said some men stormed a police station in Port Said, where protesters lit tires in the street, sending black smoke funneling into the air.

At least nine people were killed in clashes with police on Friday, mainly in the port of Suez where the army has also deployed. Hundreds were injured as police rained down tear gas on protesters armed with stones and some with petrol bombs.

The schism between Islamists and secular Egyptians is hurting efforts by Mursi, freely elected in June, to revive an economy in crisis and reverse a slide in Egypt's currency.

The political strife and lack of security that has blighted the Arab world's most populous country over much of the post-Mubarak era is casting a chilling shadow over a parliamentary election expected to start in April.

Highlighting tensions, the opposition National Salvation Front coalition called for a government of national unity and an early presidential vote among other demands. It said it would call for more protests next Friday and could boycott the parliamentary election if its demands are not met.

Mursi's opponents say he has failed to deliver on economic pledges or be a president representing the full political and communal diversity of Egyptians, as he pledged.

His supporters say his critics do not respect the democracy that has given Egypt its first freely elected leader.


At the Port Said soccer stadium a year ago, many spectators were crushed and witnesses saw some thrown off balconies after the match between Cairo's Al Ahly and local team al-Masri.

Families of victims in court cheered and wept for joy when Judge Sobhy Abdel Maguid read a list of 21 names "referred to the Mufti", a phrase used to denote execution, as all death sentences must be reviewed by Egypt's top religious authority.

A total of 73 people have been standing trial. Other rulings will be issued on March 9, the judge said.

One relative in the court shouted: "God is greatest." Outside the Al Ahly club in Cairo, fans also cheered. They had threatened more violence unless the death penalty was meted out.

Thousands took to the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and other cities on Friday to protest against what they call the authoritarianism of Mursi's rule. Protesters in Cairo were again hurling stones at police lines in Cairo on Saturday.

"We want to change the president and the government. We are tired of this regime. Nothing has changed," said Mahmoud Suleiman, 22, in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the cauldron of the 2011 anti-Mubarak revolt and near where youths stoned police.


Ahmed Salama, 28, a protester camped out with dozens of others in Tahrir, said: "The protests will continue until we realize all the demands of the revolution - bread, freedom and social justice."

In a statement in response to Friday's violence, Mursi said the state would not hesitate in "pursuing the criminals and delivering them to justice". He urged Egyptians to respect the principles of the revolution by expressing views peacefully.

The president met on Saturday with the National Defence Council, which includes senior ministers and security officials, to discuss the spate of violence.

In a televised statement, the National Salvation Front said it was holding Mursi responsible.

The Front was formed from disparate groups last year when Mursi awarded himself extra powers and fast-tracked an Islamist-flavored constitution to a referendum, opposed by the Front although the document was passed in the popular vote.

"Egypt will not regain its balance except by a political solution that is transparent and credible, by a government of national salvation to restore order and heal the economy and with a constitution for all Egyptians," prominent opposition politician Mohamed ElBaradei wrote on his Twitter account.

Until the Front was formed, the opposition had struggled to unite and their vote had been split at presidential and parliamentary polls, helping Islamists. The last parliament was dissolved based on court order, demanding a new vote this year.

Mustapha Kamal Al-Sayyid, a professor of political science at Cairo University, said the latest violence reflected the frustration of many liberal-minded Egyptians and others.

"The state of polarization between Islamists and others is most likely to continue and will have a very negative impact on the state's politics, security and economy," he said.

Inspired by the popular uprising in Tunisia, Egypt's revolution spurred further revolts across the Arab world. But the sense of common purpose among Egyptians two years ago has unraveled, triggering bloody street battles last month.

(Additional reporting by Omar Fahmy; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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S&P 500 eyes best winning streak in eight years

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock futures climbed on Friday and the S&P 500 was poised for an eighth day of gains, its longest winning streak in eight years, buoyed by rosy earnings from Procter & Gamble amid a backdrop of sturdy corporate results.

The equity market was also boosted by agreement in Washington to extend the government's borrowing power through mid-May, encouraging signs of recovery in the global economy, solid corporate earnings, and seasonal inflows into stocks.

Those factors helped the S&P 500 rally for a seventh day on Thursday to a five-year peak. Still, the index struggled to climb convincingly above 1,500, a level it surpassed briefly Thursday for the first time since December 2007.

"We are seeing a very broad-based rally and the ingredients are still in place" for gains to continue, said Steve Goldman, principal at Goldman Management in Short Hills, New Jersey. "This is the lift-off phase and it's still significant."

Procter & Gamble , the world's top household products maker, said quarterly profit soared past expectations and raised its sales and earnings outlook for the fiscal year. Shares were up 2.1 pct at $71.88 in premarket trading.

S&P 500 futures rose 3.6 point and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 32 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 9.75 points.

If the S&P 500 rises for an eighth day, it will be its longest winning streak since late 2004, when it enjoyed a nine-day run.

Pointing to a rotation out of bonds, U.S. 30-year Treasury bonds traded more than a point lower in price on Friday, with yields touching session highs at 3.10 percent.

"You have had more confidence from fund managers to provide more allocations to equity markets," which looked more attractive than bonds or cash, said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management.

Recent company earnings have been encouraging. Thomson Reuters data through early Thursday showed that of the 133 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far, 66.9 percent exceeded expectations, more than the 65 percent average over the past four quarters.

Microsoft Corp reported lower quarterly profit on Thursday as Office software sales slowed ahead of a new launch, offsetting a solid but unspectacular start for its Windows 8 operating system and sending the company's shares down 0.8 percent in premarket trading.

Apple stepped up audits of working conditions at major suppliers last year, discovering multiple cases of underage workers, discrimination and wage problems. The shares, which fell 12 percent Thursday after disappointing earnings, edged up 0.5 percent to $452.90.

German business morale improved for a third consecutive month in January to its highest in more than half a year, providing further evidence that growth in Europe's largest economy was gathering speed after contracting late last year.

Echoing a more positive tone in Europe, ECB President Mario Draghi said on Friday he expects the euro zone economy to recover later this year, and that financial market improvements had not yet trickled into the general economy.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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Murray advances to Australian Open men's final

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Andy Murray has finally beaten Roger Federer at a Grand Slam.

The U.S. Open champion stayed in the hunt for a second consecutive major title with a 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2 win over the 17-time Grand Slam champion at the Australian Open on Friday.

Murray will play defending champion and top-seeded Novak Djokovic, who was rarely troubled while beating David Ferrer in straight sets in just under 90 minutes on Thursday night — about 2½ hours less than Friday's semifinal.

Advantage to Djokovic, then, for the Sunday night final.

While U.S. Open champion Murray came into the match with a 10-9 career advantage, Murray had never beaten Federer in the three times they had met in majors — at finals at the 2008 U.S. Open, 2010 Australian Open and last year at Wimbledon.

"It's always tough against him when he plays his best tennis," Murray said, explaining why he was unable to close out the victory while serving for the match at 6-5 in the fourth set. "I was obviously very nervous. He plays his best tennis when his back is against the wall."

Federer outplayed Murray at stages of the match, but the 25-year-old Scot appeared to have the legs and stamina to give him the advantage over the 31-year-old Federer in the fifth set, including a service break to clinch the tense match.

With a capacity crowd of 15,000 at Rod Laver Arena watching, including the Australian legend Laver himself, Federer opened the match serving and was in trouble early, losing a 28-rally point to set up break point for Murray. But Federer held the game with a stunning cross-court forehand that just looped over the net from the baseline.

Murray, who had not lost a set through five rounds at Melbourne Park this year, had the first service break — on his fourth break point — to lead 2-1. It came in unusually cool summer conditions in Melbourne — breezy and temperatures of only 60 degrees during most of the match.

There were no service breaks or even break-point chances in the second set, resulting in the tiebreaker that Federer dominated early to take a 4-1 lead. But Murray fought back to level at 5-5 before Federer secured a set point with a cross-court return of Murray's smash attempt. The Swiss star clinched the tiebreaker and the 58-minute second set when Murray hit a forehand long on the next point.

The crowd was initially evenly split between Federer and Murray supporters — and at times, they were competing to be heard. At one point in the second set, a group of Murray fans wearing white shirts with blue letters spelling his nickname "Muzza" stood to chant Murray's name, while a group of Federer supporters with Swiss flags on their cheeks and shirts chanted Federer's name.

Murray broke Federer's service in the sixth game of the third set, clinched when Federer's attempted backhand in the left corner went long, then consolidated the break with a strong service game that included his 14th ace of the match to go up 5-2.

Federer, hampered by a 56 percent first-serve percentage through the first seven games of the set, managed to hold his service in the next. But Murray took a 2-1 set lead in the next game, clinching the game and the set with an ace.

With the crowd chanting "Let's go Roger, let's go," Federer grabbed back the momentum by breaking Murray for the first time in the match, then held his next service game before Murray won the next three games.

There was some controversy in that leveling game when Murray thought he had game point on a shot to the base line, but it was over-ruled by a linesman. He eventually held to level the set at 4-4, then 5-5 before the late exchange of service breaks that sent the set to another tiebreaker won by Federer, sending the match to a fifth set.

Earlier Friday, top-seeded Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci of Italy won the first title of 2013 at Melbourne Park, beating the unseeded Australian pair of Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 for the women's doubles championship.

The 16-year-old Barty was attempting to become the youngest Grand Slam champion since Martina Hingis won the Australian Open singles title in 1997.

On Saturday, defending champion Victoria Azarenka plays sixth-seeded Li Na of China for the women's singles title. Li lost the Australian Open final to Kim Clijsters in 2011 two months before winning her first and only Grand Slam at the French Open.

"Last time was more exciting, (more) nervous because it was my first time to be in a final," Li said Friday. "But I think this time (I'm) more calmed down, more cool."

Azarenka leads 5-4 in career matches, including the last four times they've played.

"I'm really hungry to defend my title," said Azarenka, who needs to beat Li to retain her No. 1 ranking. "I've put myself in the position to give it the best shot."

Also on Saturday, American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan will play their fifth consecutive Australian Open doubles final and attempt to win their record 13th Grand Slam doubles championship. They'll play the Dutch pair of Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling.

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Cantor CEO: 'Off the fiscal cliff we go'

Part of complete coverage on

By Ramy Inocencio, for CNN

January 25, 2013 -- Updated 1120 GMT (1920 HKT)


  • 'U.S. fiscal cliff still coming' in form of failure to raise debt ceiling, Cantor Fitzgerald CEO

  • More than 25% of CEOs feel world economy will get worse in 2013, says PwC survey

  • U.S. House of Representatives passed short-term debt ceiling increase Jan. 23

  • Lutnick: 'Dumb lending' caused 2008 credit crisis

Hong Kong (CNN) -- The world thought the U.S. fiscal cliff deadline was December 31, but "the fiscal cliff is (still) coming", says Richard Lutnick, CEO of global financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald.

"You're going to watch the U.S. do crazy, crazy things this year," said Lutnick to CNN's Richard Quest at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "The Republican Party that was elected to control Congress... (is) going to cross their arms and they are not going to raise the debt ceiling ultimately unless they get severe spending cuts, and the Obama administration is not going to give it to them."

If Congress fails to act, the U.S. and the world economy will have a "dreadful" 2013, Lutnick said.

Following this week's PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of global CEO confidence, Lutnick appears to be one of the more than 25% who think the world economy is more likely to deteriorate in 2013.

Despite Lutnick's concerns, on January 23 the Republican-controlled House of Representatives did pass a bill that would allow the U.S. Treasury to borrow new money through mid-May. President Barack Obama has said he would not oppose the proposal if it reaches his desk, although he prefers a long-term debt ceiling increase.

Lutnick adds that to avoid a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis, regulators need to actually address issues that caused it.

"What caused the credit crisis was just dumb lending. When you lend money to people who can't pay you back, you go broke."

Looking ahead to 2013, Lutnick says the biggest risk to global growth is the U.S. hitting the debt ceiling -- whether in the short- or long-term.

"Off the fiscal cliff we go. We (the U.S.) are irrational and we are silly... we are dopey."

Part of complete coverage on

January 23, 2013 -- Updated 1308 GMT (2108 HKT)

Global policymakers, leading thinkers and key entrepreneurs are gathering in Davos. CNN brings you the latest news, views and musings live.

January 23, 2013 -- Updated 1040 GMT (1840 HKT)

As extreme weather events cost the global economy billions each year, the "neglected" risk of climate change seems to be rising to the top of the agenda, Andrew Steer writes.

January 23, 2013 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)

Economic empowerment offers a win-win scenario for Saudi Arabia and its women, Mounira Jamjoon writes.

January 23, 2013 -- Updated 1154 GMT (1954 HKT)

The recession in Europe is entering its fifth year and unemployment doesn't look like it will be returning to normal levels anytime soon.

January 22, 2013 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)

What has been made clear by current events and financial upheavals since 2008 is that the global economy has become truly that -- global.

The globe's greatest economic minds meet in Davos next week. With financial crises in the U.S. and Europe, CNN asks: What is your economic mood?

Many eurozone countries face dropping employment even as basic costs rise. But not everyone is suffering. Explore our interactive for more.

January 23, 2013 -- Updated 0551 GMT (1351 HKT)

In 2013, the greatest risk of conflict lies in the geopolitical struggle between Japan and China, according to Ian Bremmer of Eurasia Group.

January 21, 2013 -- Updated 1502 GMT (2302 HKT)

CNN's Richard Quest explores the topic that will be on every delegate's lips at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year.

January 21, 2013 -- Updated 1500 GMT (2300 HKT)

It was January 25, 2011, when the brisk winds of change from Tahrir Square swept through the Swiss Alpine village of Davos.

January 21, 2013 -- Updated 1357 GMT (2157 HKT)

The world's political and business elite will converge on Europe's highest-altitude town for the annual talk-shop that is the World Economic Forum.

January 21, 2013 -- Updated 1458 GMT (2258 HKT)

On July 1, 2013 the 27-nation European Union will become 28. But is the Adriatic country ready to join Europe's elite club?

January 22, 2013 -- Updated 1133 GMT (1933 HKT)

The great Davos talking shop is now up and running, with delegates of all levels of importance, shapes and nationalities putting the world to rights.

January 21, 2013 -- Updated 1404 GMT (2204 HKT)

After five years in crisis the eurozone's new leader has emerged. With influence reaching from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean Sea.

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Light snow makes for slick morning commute

Chicago's morning weather forecast

A burst of snow slickened the morning commute but may not end Chicago's record stretch of days without an inch of snow falling.

“Looks like we will not get an inch. It will probably be closer to half an inch,” said Ben Deubelbeiss, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

As of 6 a.m., four-tenths of an inch of snow was recorded at O'Hare International Airport. Through Thursday, Chicago has seen 334 days without an inch of snow falling in a day. That beats the previous record streak of 319 set in 1940.

Snow started falling in the Chicago area around 4:45 a.m. Within half an hour, Illinois state police were reporting slick conditions on roads and had already responded to six minor accidents. Shortly after 6 a.m., a nine-car crash was reported near North Avenue on the Kennedy Expressway, but there were no reports of serious injuries.

By 7:15 a.m., state police said they had responded to about two dozen crashes on area expressways.

The snow was expected to end this morning.

“Something like this wouldn’t be newsworthy if it wasn’t for the fact it hasn’t snowed all year,” said Gino Izzi, another meteorologist for the weather service.

Still, the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation deployed almost 200 of its 284 plow trucks to clear streets of snow and apply salt to the roads.

"We’re going to be monitoring the weather but at this point we’re looking at snowfall at least through the rush hour," said Anne Sheahan, spokeswoman for Streets and Sanitation.

The next bout of snow is not expected until next week.

"We don’t have much of a chance of snow for the next five or six days," Izzi said. "If we miss (an inch of snow) today – today’s our one shot until we get to the middle or end of next week."

Twitter: @peternickeas

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North Korea threatens war with South over U.N. sanctions

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea threatened to attack rival South Korea if Seoul joined a new round of tightened U.N. sanctions, as Washington unveiled more of its own economic restrictions following Pyongyang's rocket launch last month.

In a third straight day of fiery rhetoric, the North directed its verbal onslaught at its neighbor on Friday, saying: "'Sanctions' mean a war and a declaration of war against us."

The reclusive North has this week declared a boycott of all dialogue aimed at ending its nuclear program and vowed to conduct more rocket and nuclear tests after the U.N. Security Council censured it for a December long-range missile launch.

"If the puppet group of traitors takes a direct part in the U.N. 'sanctions,' the DPRK will take strong physical counter-measures against it," the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said, referring to the South.

The committee is the North's front for dealings with the South. DPRK is short for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea's December rocket launch on Tuesday and expanded existing U.N. sanctions.

On Thursday, the United States slapped economic sanctions on two North Korean bank officials and a Hong Kong trading company that it accused of supporting Pyongyang's proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The company, Leader (Hong Kong) International Trading Ltd, was separately blacklisted by the United Nations on Wednesday.

Seoul has said it will look at whether there are any further sanctions that it can implement alongside the United States, but said the focus for now is to follow Security Council resolutions.

The resolution said the council "deplores the violations" by North Korea of its previous resolutions, which banned Pyongyang from conducting further ballistic missile and nuclear tests and from importing materials and technology for those programs. It does not impose new sanctions on Pyongyang.

The United States had wanted to punish North Korea for the rocket launch with a Security Council resolution that imposed entirely new sanctions against Pyongyang, but Beijing rejected that option. China agreed to U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang after North Korea's 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.


North Korea's rhetoric this week amounted to some of the angriest outbursts against the outside world coming under the leadership of Kim Jong-un, who took over after the death of his father Kim Jong-il in late 2011.

On Thursday, the North said it would carry out further rocket launches and a nuclear test, directing its ire at the United States, a country it called its "sworn enemy".

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the comments were worrying.

"We are very concerned with North Korea's continuing provocative behavior," he said at a Pentagon news conference.

"We are fully prepared ... to deal with any kind of provocation from the North Koreans. But I hope in the end that they determine that it is better to make a choice to become part of the international family."

North Korea is not believed to have the technology to deliver a nuclear warhead capable of hitting the continental United States, although its December launch showed it had the capacity to deliver a rocket that could travel 10,000 km (6,200 miles), potentially putting San Francisco in range, according to an intelligence assessment by South Korea.

South Korea and others who have been closely observing activities at the North's known nuclear test grounds believe Pyongyang is technically ready to go ahead with its third atomic test and awaiting the political decision of its leader.

The North's committee also declared on Friday that a landmark agreement it signed with the South in 1992 on eliminating nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula was invalid, repeating its long-standing accusation that Seoul was colluding with Washington.

The foreign ministry of China, the North's sole remaining major diplomatic and economic benefactor, repeated its call for calm on the Korean peninsula at its daily briefing on Friday.

"The current situation on the Korea peninsula is complicated and sensitive," spokesman Hong Lei said.

"We hope all relevant parties can see the big picture, maintain calm and restraint, further maintain contact and dialogue, and improve relations, while not taking actions to further complicate and escalate the situation," Hong said.

But unusually prickly comments in Chinese state media on Friday hinted at Beijing's exasperation.

"It seems that North Korea does not appreciate China's efforts," said the Global Times in an editorial, a sister publication of the official People's Daily.

"Just let North Korea be 'angry' ... China hopes for a stable peninsula, but it's not the end of the world if there's trouble there. This should be the baseline of China's position."

(Additional reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing; editing by Jeremy Laurence and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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Apple revenue miss to challenge stocks rally

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were set to fall Thursday as Apple slid nearly 10 percent following a revenue miss, and analysts said equities may be due for a pullback after a six-day rally.

Apple Inc missed Wall Street's revenue forecast for a third straight quarter after iPhone sales came in below expectations, fanning fears its dominance of consumer electronics is slipping. The shares dropped 9.8 percent to $463.84 in premarket trading, wiping out about $50 billion of its market value.

However, some positive economic news looked set to put a floor under stock prices. Growth in Chinese manufacturing accelerated to a two-year high this month and a buoyant Germany took the euro zone economy a step closer to recovery, business surveys showed on Thursday.

That chimed with positive U.S. data, showing the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell to its lowest since the early days of the 2007-09 recession, a hopeful sign for the sluggish labor market.

With signs the economy is improving and futures indicating only slight losses in the S&P 500 after the open, some investors are lauding the strength of the stock market rather than calling an end to the rally.

"The market has disconnected itself with Apple," said Jack de Gan, chief investment officer at Harbor Advisory Corp in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. "I think it shows great strength in the overall S&P."

The S&P 500 rose for a sixth day on Wednesday following stronger-than-expected results from IBM and Google . But Apple could now halt that rally, which had lifted stocks to five-year highs.

On Thursday, S&P 500 futures fell 1.5 point and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 10 points and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 38.50 points.

Netflix Inc surprised Wall Street Wednesday with a quarterly profit after the video subscription service added nearly 4 million customers in the U.S. and abroad. Shares jumped nearly 40 percent in premarket trading.

Apple's disappointing results drew a round of price-target cuts from brokerages. At least 14 brokerages, including Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank, cut their price target on the stock by $142 on average. Morgan Stanley removed the stock from its 'best ideas' list.

"The march to 1,500 on the S&P is looking quite strong, the question is will Apple be the spoiler?" said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.

"My guess is that while Nasdaq might suffer losses today, both the Dow and the S&P may do otherwise based on economic news out of China and Europe."

Diversified U.S. manufacturer 3M Co reported a 3.9 percent rise in profit, meeting expectations, on solid growth in sales of its wide array of products, which range from Post-It notes to films used in television screens. The shares shed 0.6 percent in premarket trading.

Corporate earnings have helped drive the recent stock market rally. Thomson Reuters data through Wednesday showed that of the 99 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings, 67.7 percent have exceeded expectations, above the 65 percent average over the past four quarters.

Investors in U.S.-based mutual funds pumped $9.32 billion into stock funds in the week ended January 16, the second consecutive week of inflows for such funds, data from the Investment Company Institute showed Wednesday.

Removing an element of political uncertainty from markets, the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a Republican plan to allow the federal government to keep borrowing money through mid-May, clearing it for fast enactment after the top Senate Democrat and White House endorsed it.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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NCAA announces problems with Miami investigation

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — The NCAA's probe of Miami's athletic compliance practices is ramping up yet again.

Only this time, the Hurricanes aren't exactly the subject of the inquiry.

In a bizarre twist, it's college sports' governing body itself that is being investigated after NCAA President Mark Emmert acknowledged on Wednesday "a very severe issue of improper conduct" by former investigators working the long, complex Miami case.

The NCAA said its investigation was based, at least in part, on information that it should not have had access to, the testimony of those who appeared under subpoena to be deposed in the bankruptcy case involving former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, one of the most notorious Ponzi scheme architects in history.

The NCAA does not have subpoena power. Shapiro's attorney did, and used it — and apparently entered into some sort of contractual agreement with the NCAA, one that apparently either was not or should never have been approved.

"We cannot have the NCAA bringing forward an allegation ... that was collected by processes none of us could stand for," Emmert said. "We're going to move it as fast as possible, but we have to get this right."

Wednesday's revelations mean that the notice of allegations against Miami — the NCAA's findings of wrongdoing, a document that was nearly completed and was expected to be released by the end of this week — will be delayed for at least a couple more weeks, if not longer. The long-term ramifications could be more damning for the NCAA, especially if the outside investigator they have commissioned to look into the mess finds more problems.

The NCAA did not name the attorney involved, whom Emmert only referred to as "she." The NCAA said it would not confirm that it was Maria Elena Perez, a Miami graduate and Shapiro's longtime defense attorney.

Perez did not respond to telephone or email messages. A person in her office said the attorney was working in New York and would be forwarded requests for comment.

"As we have done since the beginning, we will continue to work with the NCAA and now with their outside investigator hoping for a swift resolution of the investigation and our case," Miami President Donna Shalala said.

Emmert said two depositions are involved in this allegation of improper conduct by former enforcement-office staffers. One of those two depositions was given Dec. 19, 2011, by former Miami equipment-room staffer Sean Allen — who has been linked to Shapiro and many of the allegations that he made against the university.

Among the questions Allen was asked in that deposition:

— "Did you ever witness Mr. Shapiro paying any money to any University of Miami football or basketball players?"

— "Would it be fair to say that Mr. Shapiro did, in fact, confer various financial benefits on the University of Miami Athletic Program and its players?"

— "Did you ever overhear any of the coaches or any other staff for the University of Miami providing Mr. Shapiro with inside information regarding, you know, the condition of any particular athlete for the purposes of Mr. Shapiro's gambling?"

It's unknown which of Allen's answers caught the NCAA investigators' attention.

What is known publicly now, and has been suspected by some for months, is that those investigators never should have known those questions were asked.

"How in the world can you get this far without it being recognized that this was an inappropriate way to proceed?" Emmert asked.

That's the question that the NCAA wants answered, and fast.

Emmert spoke angrily at times during a half-hour conference call to discuss the findings, in which he revealed that he briefed the NCAA's executive committee and the Division I board presidents with some information about the Miami matter. He said he developed a better understanding of what went on in the days that followed, which led to the hiring of Kenneth L. Wainstein of the firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP to conduct the external review of what happened.

Wainstein, Emmert said, will begin his probe on Thursday, with the NCAA hoping that he can finish within two weeks.

"We want to make sure that any evidence that's brought forward is appropriately collected and it has the integrity that we expect and demand," Emmert said.

It was part of a stunning day for Hurricane athletics: The 25th-ranked men's basketball team routed No. 1 Duke later Wednesday, 90-63.

Emmert said the NCAA was trying to find out why part of the investigation was based on depositions specific to the bankruptcy case against Shapiro, who will have to repay $82.7 million to his victims as part of his sentence. And the timing of this also is curious. Several people who were to be named in the NCAA's notice of allegations against Miami have been told that the document was in the final stages of preparation — and one person who spoke with the AP said at least one person who was to have faced a charge of wrongdoing was told the letter was scheduled for delivery to Miami on Tuesday.

Now it's anyone's guess when that will happen.

Emmert said the NCAA learned of the alleged misconduct, in part, through legal bills presented by Shapiro's attorney for work that was not properly approved by the organization's general counsel's office.

"One of the questions that has to be answered, unequivocally, is what was the nature of that contractual arrangement and what was all the activity that that individual was involved with," Emmert said. "There is some uncertainty about all of that and it's one of the first orders of business for the firm that we've hired to investigate."

The Hurricanes' athletic compliance practices have been probed by the NCAA for nearly two years. Allegations of wrongdoing involving Miami's football and men's basketball programs became widely known in August 2011 when Yahoo Sports published accusations brought by Shapiro, who is serving a 20-year term in federal prison for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme.

Miami has self-imposed two football postseason bans in response to the investigation. The Hurricanes also would have played in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game this past season, meaning they could have qualified for the Orange Bowl.

"In my two-and-a-half years I've certainly never seen anything like this, and don't want to see it again," Emmert said.

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NASA’s Opportunity Rover Begins Year 10 on Mars

The older, smaller cousin of NASA‘s huge Mars rover Curiosity is quietly celebrating a big milestone today (Jan. 24) — nine years on the surface of the Red Planet.

NASA‘s Opportunity rover landed on Mars the night of Jan. 24, 2004 PST (just after midnight EST on Jan. 25), three weeks after its twin, Spirit, touched down. Spirit stopped operating in 2010, but Opportunity is still going strong, helping scientists better understand the Red Planet’s wetter, warmer past.

“No one could’ve imagined how good the exploration and scientific discovery would be for this vehicle, looking from the perspective of nine years ago,” said John Callas, Opportunity‘s project manager at NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “It’s been a phenomenal accomplishment.”

The headline-stealing Curiosity rover, for its part, touched down on Aug. 5, 2012, marking the next step in Mars exploration. The car-size Curiosity weighs about 1 ton — five times more than either Spirit or Opportunity.

Long-lived rovers

Spirit and Opportunity were originally supposed to spend three months searching for evidence of past water activity on the Red Planet. The golf-cart-size robots found plenty of such signs at their separate landing sites, showing that Mars was not always the cold and arid planet we know today. [Most Amazing Discoveries by Spirit and Opportunity]

For example, in 2007 Spirit uncovered an ancient hydrothermal system in Gusev Crater, suggesting that two key ingredients for life as we know it — liquid water and an energy source — were both present in some parts of Mars long ago.

And Opportunity is currently inspecting clay deposits along the rim of Mars’ huge Endeavour Crater. Clays form in relatively neutral (as opposed to acidic or basic) water, so the area may once have been capable of supporting primitive microbial life, researchers say.

“This is our first glimpse ever at conditions on ancient Mars that clearly show us a chemistry that would’ve been suitable for life at the Opportunity site,” Opportunity principal investigator Steve Squyres, of Cornell University, said of the discovery at a conference last month.

The rovers rolled far beyond their 90-day warranties. Spirit finally stopped communicating with Earth in March 2010, after getting mired in soft sand and failing to maneuver into a position that would allow it to slant its solar panels toward the sun over the 2009-2010 Martian winter. NASA declared the rover dead in 2011.

But Opportunity keeps chugging along. It has put 22.03 miles (35.46 kilometers) on its odometer since landing on Mars — just 1 mile (1.6 km) off the all-time record for most ground covered on the surface of another world. The Soviet Union’s unmanned Lunokhod 2 rover holds that mark, traveling 23 miles (37 km) on the moon back in 1973.

The great engineering that allowed Spirit and Opportunity to keep roving for so long is a big part of the six-wheeled robots’ legacy, mission team members say.

“These are magnificently designed machines,” Callas told SPACE.com. “We really have greatly expanded the exploration envelope by having a vehicle that can not only last so long but stay in very good health over that time, such that we can continue exploring.”

Still in good health

While Opportunity is showing signs of its advanced age, such as an arthritic robotic arm, the rover remains in good shape overall.

“Its health right now is miraculously good,” Callas said.

Still, the rover team is treating every day as a gift at this point, knowing that Opportunity could conk out at pretty much any time. Indeed, the sun will rise one day without a message from Opportunity, and its handlers will have to face the rover’s death and the end of an amazing mission.

“It’s going to be hard; it’ll be the end of a great era,” Callas said. “But we’ll have to remember that we’ve had such a good run.”

Follow SPACE.com senior writer Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall or SPACE.com @Spacedotcom. We’re also on Facebook and Google+

Copyright 2013 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Meet today's most ambitious women


  • Report: Women in Brazil, Russia, India and China more ambitious than U.S. counterparts

  • Extended families, affordable childcare makes it easier for mothers to work, says author

  • Eldercare and "daughterly guilt" are a more significant barrier than in Western world

  • Women report: Assertiveness not considered feminine in China and India

Editor's note: Sylvia Ann Hewlett is an economist and the founding president of the Center for Talent Innovation, a Manhattan-based think tank where she chairs the Task Force for Talent Innovation, a task force of more than 70 global companies focused on fully realizing the new stream of talent in the global marketplace.

New York (CNN) -- The rapid growth in emerging markets over the past decade has made them fertile ground for the development of new approaches to attracting and managing talent.

Among the biggest beneficiaries: Ambitious, educated women in Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC). Following the trend in developed nations, BRIC women are graduating from university at rates equal to or exceeding men. As they enter the professional workforce in their home countries, these women have an unparalleled opportunity to leapfrog their Western counterparts.

Research from the think tank I set up, Center for Talent Innovation, shows that their career ambitions and commitment overwhelm those of women in the U.S.

Their career ambitions and commitment overwhelm those of women in the U.S.
Sylvia Ann Hewlett

In my book, "Winning the War for Talent in Emerging Markets: Why Women are the Solution," written with Ripa Rashid, we say some 76% of Chinese women, 80% of Brazilian women, and a whopping 86% of Indian women aspire to the top job, compared to only 52% of their U.S. counterparts. Over 80% in Brazil, Russia and India love their jobs, versus 70% in the U.S.

Yet their promising futures too often are derailed by family-rooted "pulls" and workplace-centered "pushes."

Although childcare is one of the most common career killers for women in the United States and Western Europe, it is rarely a serious problem in the emerging markets. Parents and in-laws frequently live nearby and are willing to pitch in to help care for their grandchildren. Nannies and household help are, for the most part, affordable and readily available.

Instead, BRIC women confront a series of family and social pressures that pile onto women when they marry, ratchet up after they have children, and become almost crushing as their parents and in-laws get older.

Eldercare is a ticking time bomb, especially in countries where filial piety is tightly woven into the cultural value system.

Although elders today represent a net benefit to the female career professional in BRIC markets, demographic projections a huge leap in the percentage of the population over 60.

This dramatic shift will land squarely on professional women. While many women in our sample did not have children, the vast majority -- 81% -- do have eldercare responsibilities. "Daughterly guilt," already substantial across the BRICs, actually exceeds maternal guilt in India and China.

Gender bias remains an indisputable reality of the workplace
Sylvia Ann Hewlett

In spite of the tremendous gains in women's status in the BRICs over the past two decades, gender bias remains an indisputable reality of the workplace.

In India and China, over 25% of CTI survey respondents believe women are treated unfairly in the workplace owing to their gender; in India, the number is 45%.

More than half of educated women in India and nearly half of their counterparts in China have encountered bias severe enough to make them consider scaling back their career goals -- or quitting altogether. (Russia is the exception, in part owing to a Communist legacy that integrated women into the workplace better than elsewhere in today's emerging markets.)

Even a sizable percentage of men agree that women are treated unfairly because of their gender.

The most commonly encountered types of bias involve lingering stereotypes about women's abilities and commitment to work.

These deeply rooted prejudices can impact women's careers in a range of ways, from curtailed assignments to smaller salaries to penalties for taking maternity leave.

Women also have to fight cultural stereotypes that bar them from coveted assignments. More than half of the women surveyed are interested in international assignments, with most seeing them as critical to their career advancement.

Yet because it's assumed that a woman's responsibilities are to her home, and that her husband and children will take precedence over commitment to her career, she is often passed over in favor of a man.

Employers who wish to maximize their potential need to understand (women's) complicated career dynamics.
Sylvia Ann Hewlett

But assertiveness can be difficult for women brought up in cultures that place great value on women's submissiveness and reticence, as in India and China, or consider it a trait that detracts from women's essential femininity.

Many women surveyed felt crippled by this cultural bind, a sense further reinforced by the absence of senior female role models, mentors, sponsors and access to leadership training. Time and again, the women spoke of how hungry they are for more support from their employers and how much they would benefit from programs that would help them break out of their shells.

A nuanced understanding of the cultural and social influences is essential to doing business effectively anywhere, yet the "think global, act local" mantra that is the cornerstone of many successful business strategies rarely extends to managing talented women in emerging markets.

Employers who wish to maximize their potential need to understand their complicated career dynamics.

Only by creating policies and practices that enable ambitious, educated women to flourish will companies ensure that the tomorrow's leaders get the skills and support they need today.

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