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Around the business world

AP photoFormer Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling returns to the courthouse after lunch in week 14 of his fraud and conspiracy trial.
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Manufacturing cranks up, construction spending climbs to record high, consumer spending rebounds: WASHINGTON – Manufacturing cranked up, builders boosted construction spending to an all-time high and consumers opened their wallets wider – fresh signs the economy has snapped out of its end-of-year funk. That is the message coming from the latest batch of economic reports.Stocks mostly higher on Wal-Mart, spending data: NEW YORK – Stocks traded mostly higher as a raft of solid data on industrial activity, construction and consumer spending overshadow a sliding U.S. dollar and higher oil prices. An upbeat sales report from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. also helped the market to its gains, as did billion-dollar acquisitions by Boeing Co. and Level 3 Communications Inc. and a buyout offer for Aramark Corp.Oil prices up again: Crude-oil prices rose more than $1 a barrel on supply concerns arising from Iran’s defiance of a U.N. Security Council deadline to stop enriching uranium.Dollar down again: The dollar fell to a seven-month low against the yen as U.S. hedge funds and investment banks take advantage of thin trading during this holiday-filled week to actively test the dollar’s downside.Crowds rally nationwide to influence debate over illegal immigration: LOS ANGELES – Restaurants and markets were dark, and fields and meat packing plants are barren of workers as demonstrators gathered in cities across the nation for “A Day Without Immigrants” aimed at influencing the national debate on illegal immigration. Despite divisions over whether skipping work and school sends the right message, the protests drew hundreds of thousands.Lay received many warnings of Enron’s doom, prosecutor shows: HOUSTON – Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay received a barrage of written concerns from a slew of employees questioning the energy giant’s accounting integrity in the fall of 2001, but he told jurors he was too busy trying to save the company to investigate them. The ex-chairman remained combative during his fifth day on the witness stand, accusing a prosecutor of carving up a corpse years after the fact.Tyson earning take a dip: Tyson Foods Inc., the world’s largest meat processor, lost $127 million in its second quarter, citing oversupply in its beef, chicken and pork operations and charges for previously disclosed plant closings.Boeing buying Aviall: SEATTLE – Boeing Co., the nation’s biggest airplane maker, agreed to acquire aviation parts and services company Aviall Inc. for $1.7 billion in cash. The transaction, announced just before Boeing’s annual meeting of shareholders, is the aerospace titan’s largest since the late 1990s and signifies a vote of confidence in both its commercial and military aviation endeavors.Intel targets developing markets: SAN JOSE, Calif. – In an attempt to increase demand for personal computers in India and other developing nations, Intel Corp. plans to invest $1 billion over the next five years to improve Internet access and train teachers how to use PCs in the classroom.Bolivia gas industry nationalized: BOLIVIA – President Evo Morales nationalizes Bolivia’s natural gas industry, ordering foreign energy companies to send their supplies to a state company for sales and industrialization.Vail, Colorado


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