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Stocks continue to climb...LLBean celebrates profits with bonuses...2 Ford probes closed

Friday - 3/8/2013, 3:28pm  ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- A burst of hiring in February is pushing stocks higher on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones industrial average on track for its sixth straight increase. Optimism that hiring is picking up has been one of the factors bolstering the stock market this year, and the February jobs report is bolstering that optimism. The Labor Department says U.S. employers added 236,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent in January.

FREEPORT, Maine (AP) -- L.L. Bean says its profits have returned to pre-recession levels and that workers are being rewarded with a bonus. The private retailer, which just celebrated its 100th anniversary, says profits for its fiscal year that ended last month were healthy even though sales grew only half a percent to $1.52 billion. The board responded by awarding bonuses of 7.5 percent of annual wages to 5,000 workers.

DETROIT (AP) -- U.S. safety officials have closed an investigation into allegations that three Ford SUV models can roll away even while in park. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that a recall wasn't warranted recall. The probe involved about 1.5 million Ford Explorer, Mercury Mountaineer and Lincoln Aviator SUVS from the 2002 to 2005 model years. The agency has also ended an investigation into complaints of unintended acceleration in Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego sedans, and Ford Freestyle wagons from the 2005 through 2007 model years.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- BP is warning investors that the price tag will be "significantly higher" than it initially estimated for its multibillion-dollar settlement with businesses and residents who claim the Gulf oil spill cost them money. The company also says it can't reliably estimate how much it will pay for unresolved business claims after the federal judge supervising the settlement rejected BP's interpretation of certain provisions.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House says President Barack Obama will talk about energy and climate change during a visit next Friday to Argonne National Laboratory, near Chicago. The White House announced the trip after revealing that Obama had discussed these issues during a private meeting yesterday with business leaders and others from the clean energy industry. Argonne National Laboratory is one of the Department of Energy's largest national laboratories for scientific and engineering research.

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