Wall Street up on tech earnings, S&P index knocks on 1,500

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 extended its winning streak to six days on Wednesday after stronger-than-expected profits from IBM and Google alleviated investor concerns about the technology sector.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> gained 66.96 points, or 0.49 percent, to 13,779.17. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> gained 2.21 points, or 0.15 percent, to 1,494.77. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> gained 10.49 points, or 0.33 percent, to 3,153.67.

(Reporting By Edward Krudy; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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Seau's family sues NFL over brain injuries

The family of Junior Seau has sued the NFL, claiming the former linebacker's suicide was the result of brain disease caused by violent hits he sustained while playing football.

The wrongful death lawsuit, filed Wednesday in California Superior Court in San Diego, blames the NFL for its "acts or omissions" that hid the dangers of repetitive blows to the head. It says Seau developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) from those hits, and accuses the NFL of deliberately ignoring and concealing evidence of the risks associated with traumatic brain injuries.

Seau died at age 43 of a self-inflicted gunshot in May. He was diagnosed with CTE, based on posthumous tests, earlier this month.

An Associated Press review in November found that more than 3,800 players have sued the NFL over head injuries in at least 175 cases as the concussion issue has gained attention in recent years. More than 100 of the concussion lawsuits have been brought together before U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody in Philadelphia.

"Our attorneys will review it and respond to the claims appropriately through the court," the NFL said in a statement Wednesday.

Helmet manufacturer Riddell Inc., also is being sued by the Seaus, who say Riddell was "negligent in their design, testing, assembly, manufacture, marketing, and engineering of the helmets" used by NFL players. The suit says the helmets were unreasonably dangerous and unsafe.

Seau was one of the best linebackers during his 20 seasons in the NFL. He retired in 2009.

"We were saddened to learn that Junior, a loving father and teammate, suffered from CTE," the family said in a statement released to the AP. "While Junior always expected to have aches and pains from his playing days, none of us ever fathomed that he would suffer a debilitating brain disease that would cause him to leave us too soon.

"We know this lawsuit will not bring back Junior. But it will send a message that the NFL needs to care for its former players, acknowledge its decades of deception on the issue of head injuries and player safety, and make the game safer for future generations."

Plaintiffs are listed as Gina Seau, Junior's ex-wife; Junior's children Tyler, Sydney, Jake and Hunter, and Bette Hoffman, trustee of Seau's estate.

The lawsuit accuses the league of glorifying the violence in pro football, and creating the impression that delivering big hits "is a badge of courage which does not seriously threaten one's health."

It singles out NFL Films and some of its videos for promoting the brutality of the game.

"In 1993's 'NFL Rocks,' Junior Seau offered his opinion on the measure of a punishing hit: 'If I can feel some dizziness, I know that guy is feeling double (that)," the suit says.

The NFL consistently has denied allegations similar to those in the lawsuit.

"The NFL, both directly and in partnership with the NIH, Centers for Disease Control and other leading organizations, is committed to supporting a wide range of independent medical and scientific research that will both address CTE and promote the long-term health and safety of athletes at all levels," the league told the AP after it was revealed Seau had CTE.

The lawsuit claims money was behind the NFL's actions.

"The NFL knew or suspected that any rule changes that sought to recognize that link (to brain disease) and the health risk to NFL players would impose an economic cost that would significantly and adversely change the profit margins enjoyed by the NFL and its teams," the Seaus said in the suit.

The National Institutes of Health, based in Bethesda, Md., studied three unidentified brains, one of which was Seau's, and said the findings on Seau were similar to autopsies of people "with exposure to repetitive head injuries."

"It was important to us to get to the bottom of this, the truth," Gina Seau told the AP then. "And now that it has been conclusively determined from every expert that he had obviously had CTE, we just hope it is taken more seriously. You can't deny it exists, and it is hard to deny there is a link between head trauma and CTE. There's such strong evidence correlating head trauma and collisions and CTE."

In the final years of his life, Seau went through wild behavior swings, according to Gina and to 23-year-old son, Tyler. There also were signs of irrationality, forgetfulness, insomnia and depression.

"He emotionally detached himself and would kind of 'go away' for a little bit," Tyler Seau said. "And then the depression and things like that. It started to progressively get worse."

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NASA Telescope Reveals ‘Magnetic Braids’ in Sun’s Atmosphere

A small NASA space telescope has revealed surprising magnetic braids of super-hot matter in the sun’s outer atmosphere, a find that may explain the star’s mysteriously hot corona, researchers say.

The discovery, made by NASA’s High-Resolution Coronal Imager, or Hi-C, also may lead to better space weather forecasts, the scientists added.

“With potential annual economic impacts of tens to hundreds of billions of dollars domestically during periods of high solar activity, accurate forecasts of the local space weather environment can possibly save billions for power systems, commercial aircraft and a number of other economic sectors,” said study author Jonathan Cirtain, who led the Hi-C sun corona mission.

Cirtain,a solar astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.,and his team launched the 9.5-inch(24 centimeters) telescope last July on a 10-minute flight just beyond Earth’s atmosphere to study the corona, the sun’s million-degree outer atmosphere. The telescope snapped 165 photos in stunning detail before parachuting back to Earth. [NASA's Hi-C Photos: Best View Ever of Sun's Corona]

The sun’s corona revealed

The surface of the sun is unsurprisingly hot, up to 11,000 degrees Fahrenheit (6,125 degrees Celsius). Bizarrely, however, the corona — the outer atmosphere far above the sun’s surface — is hotter by a thousandfold, even in the absence of solar flares.

Scientists recently found that powerful magnetic waves rippling from below the sun’s surface may heat the corona by 2.7 million degrees F (1.5 million degrees C). However, that alone would not account for the corona’s ultra-hot temperatures.

Now high-resolution images of the sun’s corona support the idea of magnetic braids generating tremendous amounts of heat, possibly enough to explain the readings of up to 10.8 million degrees F (6 million degrees C).

To picture these magnetic structures on the sun, “imagine a French braid in someone’s hair,” Cirtain told SPACE.com. “Bundles of individual hairs are wrapped about other bundles and together form a braided ensemble of hair.

“What we have observed is a bundle of magnetic fields, wrapped about several other bundles to form a magnetic bundle ensemble. The magnetic fields in this ensemble have varying lengths, and the rate of curvature along individual field lines may also vary such that some fields are very highly curved while others are less so.” [Sun Quiz: How Well Do You Know Our Star?]

These magnetic fields are physically manifested within the super-hot plasma making up the sun. For instance, very highly curved magnetic fields can take the form of coronal loops, giant arches rising from the sun.

“When a magnetic field becomes highly curved, it eventually becomes unstable,” Cirtain said. Eventually these magnetic braids can grow unstable enough for individual magnetic field lines of force to interact within them. This phenomenon, known as reconnection, decreases the curvature of the magnetic field, releasing potentially vast amounts of energy that can heat plasma or accelerate solar flares and other massive outbursts.

Small telescope that could

While astronomers have seen magnetic braids on the surface of the sun, until now they had little way to see how common the braids were in the corona. To glimpse the magnetic braids, the NASA team launched the Hi-C telescope on a sounding rocket in July. It captured images of the corona with a resolution about five times higher than previously achieved.

The low-budget mission was filled with uncertainties. For instance, the mirror used in the telescope is so smooth that, across its 9.5-inch width, it deviates from perfect smoothness by only a few widths of an atom. There was every chance that mechanical stresses, temperatures changes and other factors before and during the mission could warp its surface, reducing its quality.

“We would only know if it worked once we had flown and taken the images of the sun,” Cirtain said. “This lack of control of the situation kept me up many nights.”

The telescope captured only five minutes of video data before re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. Still, that was enough to discover magnetic braids in the corona, and the amount of activity seen suggested vast amounts of energy can be released there.

The researchers, who detail their findings in the Jan. 24 issue of the journal Nature,  conceded it is possible the braids they saw were not bundles of magnetic fields but sets of many nested magnetic loops overlying and underlying each other. If so, they would store less energy than estimated. Even so, however, the corona would still hold 100 times the energy needed to be super-heated.

“My life for the better part of a decade went into this instrument, and seeing it work was exciting not only for me but for my family and for my close colleagues,” Cirtain said.

The researchers hope to launch their telescope in an orbital satellite to observe the corona longer.

Follow SPACE.com on Twitter @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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2013 could be 'climate game-changer'

An ice sculpture entitled 'Minimum Monument' by Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo outside Berlin's Concert Hall, September 2, 2009.


  • The "neglected" risk of climate change seems to be rising to the top of leaders' agendas

  • Extreme weather events are costing the global economy billions of dollars each year

  • Gas can be an important bridge to a lower carbon future but it's not the answer

  • More investment in renewable energy is needed, with fewer risks

Editor's note: Andrew Steer is President and CEO of the World Resources Institute, a think tank that works with governments, businesses and civil society to find sustainable solutions to environmental and development challenges.

(CNN) -- As leaders gather for the World Economic Forum in Davos, signs of economic hope are upon us. The global economy is on the mend. Worldwide, the middle class is expanding by an estimated 100 million per year. And the quality of life for millions in Asia and Africa is growing at an unprecedented pace.

Threats abound, of course. One neglected risk -- climate change -- appears to at last be rising to the top of agendas in business and political circles. When the World Economic Forum recently asked 1,000 leaders from industry, government, academia, and civil society to rank risks over the coming decade for the Global Risks 2013 report, climate change was in the top three. And in his second inaugural address, President Obama identified climate change as a major priority for his Administration.

Andrew Steer

Andrew Steer

For good reason: last year was the hottest year on record for the continental United States, and records for extreme weather events were broken around the world. We are seeing more droughts, wildfires, and rising seas. The current U.S. drought will wipe out approximately 1% of the U.S. GDP and is on course to be the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Damage from Hurricane Sandy will cost another 0.5% of GDP. And a recent study found that the cost of climate change is about $1.2 trillion per year globally, or 1.6% of global GDP.

Shifting to low-carbon energy sources is critical to mitigating climate change's impacts. Today's global energy mix is changing rapidly, but is it heading in the right direction?

Coal is the greatest driver of carbon dioxide emissions from energy, accounting for more than 40% of the total worldwide. Although coal demand is falling in the United States -- with 55 coal-powered plants closed in the past year -- it's growing globally. The World Resources Institute (WRI) recently identified 1,200 proposed new coal plants around the world. And last year, the United States hit a record-high level of coal exports—arguably transferring U.S. emissions abroad.

Meanwhile, shale gas is booming. Production in the United States has increased nearly tenfold since 2005, and China, India, Argentina, and many others have huge potential reserves. This development can be an economic blessing in many regions, and, because carbon emissions of shale gas are roughly half those of coal, it can help us get onto a lower carbon growth path.

However, while gas is an important bridge to a low carbon future—and can be a component of such a future—it can't get us fully to where we need to be. Greenhouse gas emissions in industrial countries need to fall by 80-90% by 2050 to prevent climate change's most disastrous impacts. And there is evidence that gas is crowding out renewables.

Renewable energy -- especially solar and wind power -- are clear winners when it comes to reducing emissions. Unfortunately, despite falling prices, the financial markets remain largely risk-averse. Many investors are less willing to finance renewable power. As a result of this mindset, along with policy uncertainty and the proliferation of low-cost gas, renewable energy investment dropped 11%, to $268 billion, last year.

What do we need to get on track?

Incentivizing renewable energy investment

Currently, more than 100 countries have renewable energy targets, more than 40 developing nations have introduced feed-in tariffs, and countries from Saudi Arabia to South Africa are making big bets on renewables as a growth market. Many countries are also exploring carbon-trading markets, including the EU, South Korea, and Australia. This year, China launched pilot trading projects in five cities and two provinces, with a goal of a national program by 2015.

Removing market barriers

Despite growing demand for renewable energy from many companies, this demand often remains unmet due to numerous regulatory, financial, and psychological barriers in the marketplace.

In an effort to address these, WRI just launched the Green Power Market Development Group in India, bringing together industry, government, and NGOs to build critical support for renewable energy markets. A dozen major companies from a variety of sectors—like Infosys, ACC, Cognizant, IBM, WIPRO, and others— have joined the initiative. This type of government-industry-utility partnership, built upon highly successful models elsewhere, can spur expanded clean energy development. It will be highlighted in Davos this week at meetings of the Green Growth Action Alliance (G2A2).

De-risking investments

For technical, policy, and financial reasons, risks are often higher for renewables than fossil-based energy. Addressing these risks is the big remaining task to bring about the needed energy transformation. Some new funding mechanisms are emerging that can help reduce risk and thus leverage large sums of financing. For example, the Green Climate Fund could, if well-designed, be an important venue to raise funds and drive additional investments from capital markets. Likewise, multi-lateral development banks' recent $175 billion commitment to sustainable transport could help leverage more funds from the private and public sectors.

Some forward-looking companies are seeking to create internal incentives for green investments. For example, companies like Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, and UPS have been taking actions to reduce internal hurdle rates and shift strategic thinking to the longer-term horizons that many green strategies need.

Davos is exactly the type of venue for finding solutions to such issues, which requires leadership and coalition-building from the private and public sectors. For example, the the G2A2, an alliance of CEOs committed to addressing climate and environmental risks, will launch the Green Investment Report with precisely the goal of "unlocking finance for green growth".

Depending on what happens at Davos—and other forums and meetings like it throughout the year—2013 could just be a game-changer.

Follow us on Twitter@CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Andrew Steer.

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2 men died in high-rise fire after rescuing elderly woman: officials

A high-rise fire on Chicago's south side killed two men and seriously injured a woman.

The two men who died in a South Shore high-rise fire had rescued an elderly woman on the seventh floor and had returned to the burning apartment with fire extinguishers when they apparently were overcome by smoke, officials said today.

Jameel Johnson, 36, and John Fasula, 50, were working in the 16-story building in the 6700 block of South Shore Drive Tuesday morning when the fire broke out on the seventh floor, officials said.

The two heard an 81-year-old woman screaming for help and placed her inside an elevator and pressed a button to take her to the first floor, according to police and David A. Fields Jr., Johnson’s cousin.

Fasula and Johnson returned to her apartment with fire extinguishers, police said. They were later found by firefighters, collapsed on the floor and were in full cardiac arrest, according to police and fire officials.

The woman collapsed on the floor of the lobby after the elevator doors opened, but was revived by paramedics and taken to the University of Chicago Hospitals, where she was listed in critical condition from smoke inhalation, according to police.

“He died a hero,” Fields said in a telephone interview. “They died saving a woman’s life.”

Johnson, the father of two girls, was working as a private contractor for a cable company, his family said. He did not like being inside high-rise buildings, but the company could not find a replacement, relatives said.

“He went with the understanding that maybe it was just a service call and he could be in and out,” Fields said. “He didn’t want to be in the high-rise building, that was his whole thing. He didn’t want to be there.”

Relatives described Johnson, an Englewood native, as a fun-loving man who did whatever he could to take care of his fiance and two children, ages 14 and 3. Johnson had ventured into different careers over the years, but returned to the cable business about a year ago.

“He was a good father who was just trying to make sure his kids had the best,” Fields said.

He had been with his fiance for 15 years and the family lives in Gary, Ind., Fields said. His youngest daughter still doesn’t understand what happened, relatives said.

“She’s still looking for her father to come home,” said Johnson’s aunt, Rosemary Cohns. “That’s the hardest part.”

Relatives of Fasula said they were not surprised to hear he risked his life for someone else.

“That’s how my brother-in-law was,” said Michelle Kozicki, 65, Fasula’s sister-in-law. “There’s never going to be another one like my brother-in-law Johnny. There’s not a bad bone in his body.”

Fasula was a maintenance manager for the CTA, spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis said. He started working for the transit agency in 1983.

Fasula’s family knew he was at the apartment building for a “side job,” though she wasn’t sure what the work entailed. Kozicki said it was common for Fasula, who had been married for nearly 40 years, to work jobs outside his day job at the CTA.
“He didn’t like to sit still,” she said.

He went out of his way to help his father before he died in 2009. He was with him “every step of the way,” Kozicki said. For example, Fasula took time off of work to drive his father to doctor’s appointments.

Cook County Commissioner John Daley, who knew Fasula through his father, called him an "outstanding young man" whose death is a "tremendous loss."

"If you were in trouble, John was always there," Daley said.

Fire officials have said the fire apparently started in a bedroom on the seventh floor. Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said the cause is undetermined pending further analysis of electrical information.  It does not appear suspicious, he added.

“In short, it generally means we have to have some items looked at,” Langford said of the analysis.



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Cameron promises Britons vote on EU exit

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron promised Britons a vote on quitting the European Union, rattling London's biggest allies and some investors by raising the prospect of uncertainty and upheaval.

Cameron announced on Wednesday that the referendum would be held by the end of 2017 - provided he wins a second term - and said that while Britain did not want to retreat from the world, public disillusionment with the bloc was at "an all-time high".

"It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time for us to settle this question about Britain and Europe," Cameron said in a speech, adding that his Conservative party would campaign for the 2015 parliamentary election on a promise to renegotiate the terms of Britain's EU membership.

"When we have negotiated that new settlement, we will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or out choice to stay in the European Union on these new terms; or come out altogether. It will be an in-out referendum."

A referendum would mark the second time British voters have had a direct say on the issue. In 1975, they decided by a wide margin to stay in, two years after the country had joined.

Most recent opinion polls have shown a slim majority would vote to leave amid bitter disenchantment, fanned by a hostile press, about the EU's perceived influence on the British way of life. However, a poll this week showed a majority for staying.

Cameron's position is fraught with uncertainty. He must come from behind to win the next election, secure support from the EU's 26 other states for a new British role, and hope those countries can persuade their voters to back the changes.

He also avoided saying exactly what he would do if he failed to win concessions in Europe, as many believe is likely.

Critics, notably among business leaders worried about the effect on investment, say that for years before a vote, Britain may slip into a dangerous and damaging limbo that could leave it adrift or effectively pushed out of the EU.

The United States, a close ally, is also uneasy about the plan, believing it will dilute Britain's international clout. President Barack Obama told Cameron last week that Washington valued "a strong UK in a strong European Union" and the White House said on Wednesday it believed Britain's membership of the EU was mutually beneficial.

Some of Britain's European partners were also anxious and told Cameron on Wednesday his strategy reflected a selfish and ignorant attitude. However, Angela Merkel, the leader of EU paymaster Germany, was quick to say she was ready to discuss Cameron's ideas.


French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was less diplomatic: "If Britain wants to leave Europe, we will roll out the red carpet," he quipped, echoing words Cameron used recently to urge France's rich to escape high taxes and move to Britain.

French President Francois Hollande repeated his refusal of special deals: "What I will say, speaking for France, and as a European, is that it isn't possible to bargain over Europe to hold this referendum," he said. "Europe must be taken as it is.

"One can have it modified in future but one cannot propose reducing or diminishing it as a condition of staying in."

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti was more positive. He said he agreed with Cameron on the need to make the EU more innovative and welcomed the idea of a British referendum, saying he thought Britons would ultimately vote to stay in the bloc.

Billed by commentators as the most important speech of Cameron's career, his referendum promise ties him firmly to an issue that has bedeviled a generation of Conservative leaders.

In the past, he has been careful to avoid bruising partisan fights over Europe, an issue that undid the last two Conservative prime ministers, John Major and Margaret Thatcher.

His speech appeared to pacify a powerful Euroskeptic wing inside his own party, but deepen rifts with the Liberal Democrats, the junior partners in his coalition. Their leader, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, said the plan would undermine a fragile economic recovery.

Sterling fell to its lowest in nearly five months against the dollar on Wednesday as Cameron was speaking.


Cameron said he would take back powers from Brussels, saying later in parliament that, when it came to employment, social and environmental legislation, "Europe has gone far too far".

But such a clawback - still the subject of an internal audit to identify which specific powers he should target for repatriation to London - is likely to be easier said than done.

If Cameron wins re-election but then fails to renegotiate Britain's membership of the EU, a 'Brexit' could loom.

Business leaders have warned that years of doubt over Britain's EU membership would damage the $2.5 trillion economy and cool the investment climate.

"Having a referendum creates more uncertainty and we don't need that," Martin Sorrell, chief executive of advertising giant WPP, told the World Economic Forum in Davos. "This is a political decision. This is not an economic decision.

"This isn't good news. You added another reason why people will postpone investment decisions."

Cameron has been pushed into taking such a strong position partly by the rise of the UK Independence Party, which favors complete withdrawal from the EU and has climbed to third in the opinion polls, mainly at the expense of the Conservatives.

"All he's trying to do is to kick the can down the road and to try and get UKIP off his back," said UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

Euroskeptics in Cameron's party, who have threatened to stir up trouble for the premier, were thrilled by the speech.

Conservative lawmaker Peter Bone called it "a terrific victory" that would unify 98 percent of the party. "He's the first prime minister to say he wants to bring back powers from Brussels," Bone told Reuters. "It's pretty powerful stuff".

Whether Cameron holds the referendum remains as uncertain as the Conservatives' chances of winning the election. They trail the opposition Labour party in opinion polls, and the coalition is grappling with a stagnating economy as it pushes through unpopular public spending cuts to reduce a large budget deficit.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said on Wednesday his party did not want an in-or-out referendum.


Cameron said he would campaign for Britain to stay in the EU "with all my heart and soul", provided he secured the reforms he wants. He made clear the Union must become less bureaucratic and focus more on free trade.

It was riskier to maintain the status quo than to change, he said: "The biggest danger to the European Union comes not from those who advocate change, but from those who denounce new thinking as heresy," he said.

Asked whether, if he did not succeed in his renegotiation strategy, would recommend a vote to take Britain out, he said only: "I want to see a strong Britain in a reformed Europe.

"We have a very clear plan. We want to reset the relationship. We will hold that referendum. We will recommend that resettlement to the British people."

Cameron said the euro zone debt crisis was forcing the bloc to change and that Britain would fight to make sure new rules were fair to the 10 countries that do not use the common currency, of which Britain is the largest.

Democratic consent for the EU in Britain was now "wafer thin", he said:

"Some people say that to point this out is irresponsible, creates uncertainty for business and puts a question mark over Britain's place in the European Union. But the question mark is already there: ignoring it won't make it go away."

A YouGov opinion poll on Monday showed that more people wanted to stay in the EU than leave it, the first such result in many months. But it was unclear whether that result was a blip.

Paul Chipperfield, a 53-year-old management consultant, said he liked the strategy: "Cameron's making the right move because I don't think we've had enough debate in this country," he said.

"We should be part of the EU but the EU needs to recognize that not everybody's going to jump on the same bandwagon."

Asked after the speech whether other EU countries would agree to renegotiate Britain's membership, Cameron said he was an optimist and that there was "every chance of success".

"I don't want Britain to leave the EU," he told parliament later. "I want Britain to reform the EU."

In the 1975 referendum, just over 67 percent voted to stay inside with nearly 33 percent against.

(Additional reporting by Paul Taylor in Davos, Alexandra Hudson in Berlin, Brenda Goh in London, Jeff Mason in Washington and James Mackenzie in Rome; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge, David Stamp and Alastair Macdonald)

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Cyclical sectors lift S&P 500 to 5-year high

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cyclical sectors led the Standard & Poor's 500 to a five-year intraday high on Tuesday as traders gobbled up bank and commodity shares on hopes the global economy continues to mend.

The market also gained on signals that Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives aim on Wednesday to pass a nearly four-month extension of the U.S. debt limit. The White House welcomed the move on Tuesday, saying it defuses fears of a U.S. default on its debt.

Adding to the upbeat sentiment, Portuguese 10-year debt yields fell below 6 percent for the first time since late 2010 on news that the country was set to tap the bond market this week for the first time since it was bailed out in 2011.

"Cyclicals underperformed late last year because of the fear of the fiscal cliff and the debt ceiling," said Jack de Gan, chief investment officer at Harbor Advisory Corp, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

He said overall better economic numbers in the United States and China, as well as more stabilization in Europe, were driving buyers into sectors associated with economic growth.

Gains were limited, however, as investors were cautious ahead of an increase in earnings reports and the S&P 500 was rising for the fifth straight day.

"Not very often do you go very far beyond that in the short term," De Gan said, "so any (bearish) news could turn us down for a day or so."

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> rose 47.43 points or 0.35 percent, to 13,697.13. The S&P 500 <.spx> gained 4.18 points or 0.28 percent, to 1,490.16. The Nasdaq Composite <.ixic> added 0.25 of a point, or 0.01 percent, to 3,134.96.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold led gains in the materials sector after it reported a 16 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit on higher production. Shares gained 5.4 percent to $35.44.

Technology shares underperformed as concerns about Apple's ability to continue to grow at hyper speed and a weak outlook from Intel Corp have diminished optimism about the sector's prospects. The S&P technology index <.splrct> was off 0.2 percent.

Major tech companies scheduled to report results after the market's close on Tuesday include Google Inc , IBM and Texas Instruments . Tech bellwethers Apple and Microsoft Corp are set to report earnings later this week.

"Any one of those, if there is a big surprise up or down, could shift the balance in the markets. So investors are being far more cautious than normal, especially with the market averages having broken out to five-year highs," said Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co, in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Four Dow components have already reported earnings Tuesday, and three rose on the results. Insurer Travelers was the standout, climbing 2.1 percent to $77.93.

Blue chips DuPont

, the largest U.S. chemical company by market capitalization, and Verizon Communications also posted revenue that beat forecasts.

DuPont's shares gained 1.6 percent to $47.74 while Verizon's rose 0.4 percent to $42.73.

On the downside, shares of Johnson & Johnson , the diversified health company, slipped 0.8 percent to $72.66 after it forecast 2013 earnings below expectations.

Thomson Reuters data through Tuesday morning showed that of the 74 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings so far, 62.2 percent have topped expectations, roughly even with the 62 percent average since 1994, but below the 65 percent average over the past four quarters.

Overall, S&P 500 fourth-quarter earnings are forecast to have risen 2.6 percent. That estimate is above the 1.9 percent forecast from the start of earnings season, but well below the 9.9 percent fourth-quarter earnings forecast from October 1, the data showed.

U.S.-listed shares of Research in Motion jumped 11.3 percent to $17.63 a day after its chief executive said the Canadian company may consider strategic alliances with other companies after the launch of devices powered by RIM's new BlackBerry 10 operating system.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos and Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)

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NFL lifts suspension of Saints coach Sean Payton

NEW YORK (AP) — Sean Payton is back as coach of the New Orleans Saints.

Payton's season-long suspension for his role in the Saints' bounty program was lifted by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday, nearly two weeks earlier than expected.

The decision allows Payton to attend the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Saturday, where some of the top college players available for the NFL draft will be competing.

Payton, along with assistant head coach Joe Vitt, general manager Mickey Loomis, and four players including Jonathan Vilma, was suspended after an investigation found the club had a performance pool offering cash rewards for key plays, including big hits. The player suspensions eventually were overturned.

"I clearly recognize that mistakes were made, which led to league violations," Payton said in a statement. "Furthermore, I have assured the commissioner a more diligent protocol will be followed."

The suspension was scheduled to end after the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, but was moved up after Payton and Goodell met on Monday.

"Coach Payton acknowledged in the meeting his responsibility for the actions of his coaching staff and players and pledged to uphold the highest standards of the NFL and ensure that his staff and players do so as well," Goodell said in a statement. "'Sean fully complied with all the requirements imposed on him during his suspension.

"More important, it is clear that Sean understands and accepts his responsibilities as a head coach and the vital role that coaches play in promoting player safety and setting an example for how the game should be played at all levels."

Saints owner Tom Benson welcomed back his coach.

"We are all thankful that Sean Payton has been reinstated," Benson said. "We have a lot of work to do and we are in the middle of it right now."

Payton also needs to fill a key position on his coaching staff following the departure last week of offensive line coach and running game coordinator Aaron Kromer, now the offensive coordinator in Chicago.

Loomis and Vitt are in Mobile evaluating players. Loomis said he was caught off guard by the news of Payton's return. But he said having Payton back sooner than expected will help the Saints.

"Every day makes a difference. We've certainly missed Sean in terms of the football team and all the things that go with our business and the game. But look, I miss his friendship. We all miss his friendship. We miss him as a person. I'm excited that he's going to be back here and fired up that he's back."

Vitt said he talked to Payton Tuesday morning and that he should join the Saints' contingent in Alabama on Wednesday.

"We just found out on the way to practice," Vitt said. "Mr. B called Mickey and we're all excited. Sean went and spent the day in New York (Monday). He just got back in Dallas. I talked to him on the phone about 5 o'clock this morning. He's packing his bags so we'll expect he'll be here some time" Wednesday.

Vitt agreed with Loomis that the timing of Payton's return is good for the team.

Payton is "going to hit the ground running with both feet. His jaw is going to be set. He'll have a note pad full of thoughts and ideas and he's going to have to get himself caught up with the evaluation process of our team and looking at film, which he'll do. This is perfect, getting him back now, because he's going to be here for the readings of our players. He's going to be here for the readings of these college seniors. We start handing out unrestricted free agent tape on Thursday and Friday of this week.

"This is where you're building the foundation of your football team, with the evaluation process of these draft eligible juniors and seniors and the free agents that are out there."

There remains one outstanding issue for the Saints stemming from the bounty probe: What will become of the Saints' second pick next spring. As part of the bounty punishment, Goodell fined the Saints $500,000 and took away second-round picks in 2012 and 2013. However, Goodell left open the possibility of restoring the 2013 second-rounder and instead docking the team a later-round pick if he is satisfied with the club's level of cooperation in the bounty matter.

What the Saints do know is that the 49-year-old Payton is set to return to New Orleans for the next five seasons. Earlier this month he signed a contract extension running through the 2017 season.

The coach is the last person punished in the bounty probe to return to work. Before Tuesday, Payton had not been at work since mid-April, when Goodell rejected the coach's appeal of his suspension.

Loomis was suspended for eight games, Vitt for six and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams remains suspended indefinitely

Vilma and current Saints defensive lineman Will Smith, along with former Saints Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove, were given suspensions of various lengths, but never served a game. Their punishments were overturned after lengthy appeals which also coincided with exhaustive litigation in federal court.

The litigation included Vilma's defamation lawsuit against Goodell, which was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan last week.

Payton's reinstatement is one more step for the Saints to return to normalcy, but for Vitt, said it doesn't bring closure to the bounty scandal.

"It doesn't for me. You're going to have ask Sean that question, Mickey that question, Vilma that question. It certainly doesn't for me. I can forgive. I'm not going to forget. It is what it is."

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7 Pressing Foreign Policy Challenges for Obama’s 2nd Term

Now that President Obama’s inaugural festivities are over, he will turn his attention to tackling gun control, immigration, climate change and a series of looming budget confrontations with Republicans. Obama and his aides hope that the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will help him maintain a focus on domestic priorities.

“Since 9/11, that region has been a sinkhole of American resources, lives and political capital,” says Charles Kupchan, an expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. “The real drain of resources  is diminishing and I think that Obama will make sure that continues.”

But as the crises in Mali and Algeria show, Obama will not have the luxury of focusing solely on domestic issues. A number of pressing foreign policy problems will demand his time and attention. Here is a look at seven big national security challenges he will face over the next four years:

Afghanistan and Pakistan: When Obama met earlier this month with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the administration said it was considering removing all U.S. troops from Afghanistan when the NATO-led combat mission ends in 2014. Karl Inderfurth, a former assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, says the administration must make good on a promise of a responsible withdrawal. Also crucial for Obama will be managing the U.S. relationship with Pakistan, which has been fraught with tension. “Pakistan is a pressing priority because the whole withdrawal (and) transition taking place in Afghanistan could not be done successfully without some form of Pakistani cooperation,” says Inderfurth, who is now with the CSIS think tank. “But Pakistan also is a country that, because where it resides in the region, because it is a nuclear power, because it is itself at risk of Islamic extremists, if something goes seriously wrong in Pakistan, this could be a serious national security threat to the United States.” Having John Kerry as secretary of state will be an advantage. The secretary of state-designate has traveled there on behalf of the Obama administration and already has relationships with top officials.

Pivot to Asia and engaging new Chinese leadership: In 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s declaration of a “Pacific Century” signaled the start of a “pivot” to Asia that has involved stepped-up U.S. engagement in the region. As part of that effort, Obama traveled to Asia right after the election on a tour that included a historic visit to Myanmar. While many U.S. allies in the region have welcomed the U.S. engagement, the initiative is viewed warily in Beijing. The Obama administration has been seeking to reassure China that the pivot is not aimed at containing Beijing’s influence. In November, Xi Jinping was named the new head of the Chinese Communist Party, taking over from Hu Jintao in a once-in-a-decade leadership transition. Establishing a good working relationship with the new Chinese leadership is critical.

Standoff over Iran’s nuclear program: When Obama took office in 2009, he signaled a willingness to engage personally with Tehran, saying in his first inaugural speech that the United States would “extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your first.” The gesture was aimed at showing Iran – and U.S. allies – that his administration was willing to try to diplomacy first to make headway on the nuclear issue. The West accuses Tehran of using its nuclear enrichment program to try to build a nuclear weapon while Iran insists its nuclear program is aimed at purely peaceful purposes of developing electricity. The outreach did not lead to any breakthroughs so the Obama administration shifted its focus to working with U.S. allies to put in place stiff economic sanctions. Years of sanctions are taking a  toll on Iran’s economy. In the coming months, the United States will try direct talks with Iran. As he winds down the war with Afghanistan, the last thing Obama wants is another military engagement. But he has repeatedly said that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. If sanctions and negotiations fail, the prospect of U.S.-led military action would grow.

Hotspots in Africa and the Middle East: The crises in Mali and Algeriaserve as a bleak reminder that several smaller conflicts around the globe could engulf an entire region. The Obama administration has resisted involvement in the Mali conflict for a variety of reasons. But clashes with Islamic militants in Somalia and Yemen could increase, as the U.S. ramps up its drone attacks. Additionally, clashes with rebels in some Sub-Saharan nations, such as the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have also garnered U.S. attention. If these conflicts grow, it might become necessary for the U.S. to put more resources and political capital in these areas.

Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Two days before Obama’s first inauguration, Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire to their three-week war that left nearly 1,500 Palestinian dead and chances for a peace deal slim. Four years later, the two sides find themselves in an equally precarious situation, fresh off a new conflict and with political conditions less than ideal. On Tuesday, Israelis are expected to keep Benjamin Netanyahu in power as prime minister, bringing with him a more hardened conservative coalition unlikely to support a broader two-state solution. Any new peace initiative must take account of a “loss of faith among both Israelis and Palestinians about the prospects of a real resolution,” said Tamara Cofman Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “Without paying attention to the politics, such an initiative is destined to fail.” Wittes says that the U.S. can have intensive discussions with each side individually to get beyond these political divides and find a solution that could cement Obama’s legacy.

Syria: President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on the Syrian uprising has left 60,000 dead, according to United Nations estimates. The Obama administration has steered clear of military involvement but Washington is concerned about the potential that the Assad government might use chemical weapons. If that were to happen, it would cross a red line for the United States and could prompt military intervention. In any event, the humanitarian catastrophe from the Syrian conflict and its wider mplications for the region mean will demand constant monitoring.

“Reset” of the “reset” with Russia: Obama came into office in 2009 pledging a reboot in relations with Moscow, which had deteriorated in the final years of President George W. Bush’s administration. The Obama administration viewed the “reset” with Russia as important to many of its foreign policy priorities, including the mission in Afghanistan and stepping up pressure on Iran over its nuclear program. Obama established a rapport with then-President Dmitry Medvedev and ties between the two countries improved. But Vladimir Putin is now president again and relations between Moscow and Washington have soured in recent months. In retaliation for the Magnitsky Act, which calls for U.S. sanctions on Russian officials who violate human rights, Russia has banned adoptions by U.S. families of Russian children. Obama is expected to visit Russia later this year. Analysts say the engagement will be important, though few believe there will be a huge improvement anytime soon in relations.

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Defterios: What keeps Davos relevant


  • Since the late 20th Century, the ski resort of Davos has been synonymous with the World Economic Forum

  • Defterios: I first came to Davos as a relatively junior correspondent, two months after the Berlin Wall fell

  • Fall of Communism, China's opening, removal of apartheid in South Africa unfolded in the 90s

  • It's the inter-play between geo-politics and business is what keeps the forum relevant

Davos (CNN) -- Veterans of Davos often refer to nature's awe-inspiring work as the Magic Mountain.

The name comes from an early 20th century novel by Thomas Mann -- reflecting on life in an alpine health retreat, and the mystery of time in this breath-taking setting.

Read more from John Defterios: Why Egypt's transition is so painful

Since the late 20th century, this ski resort has been synonymous with the World Economic Forum, which represents networking on its grandest scale.

This year nearly 40 world leaders -- a record for this annual meeting -- 2000 plus executives and it seems an equal number of people in the media, like yours truly, are in pursuit of them all. The setting is certainly more chaotic then a decade ago. The agendas of the Fortune 500 chief executives are to filled with bi-lateral meetings and back door briefings to allow for the spontaneity that made this venue unique.

Davos gets ready for leaders' gathering


I first came to Davos as a relatively junior correspondent in 1990, two months after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was arguably then, after nearly two decades in the conference business, when the forum became a fixture on the global calendar.

Quest: U.S. economy to dominate Davos 2013

I can remember, quite vividly, working out of a bunker (like we do today) in the Davos Congress Centre. West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl sat side-by-side with his East German counterpart Hans Modrow. That meeting before the global community helped set the stage for monetary union, a huge unification fund for what became Eastern Germany and shortly thereafter German elections.

The early 90s at Davos were dominated by European reconstruction after the fall of communism. Former party bosses came to the forum to convince business leaders that a transition to market economics could be delivered. Boris Yeltsin made his Davos appearance during that chaotic transition from the USSR to today's Russia.

Davos 2013: New year, same old problems?

In 1992, Chinese Premier Li Peng used the setting here in the Alps to articulate plans for the country's economic opening up to the world. Not by chance, the architect of Washington's engagement with Beijing, the former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger also took a high profile that year.

Again only two years later in 1994, Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres walked hand in hand on stage, holding a public dialogue leading up to the creation and recognition of the Palestinian Authority.

The World Economic Forum, as the saying goes, was positioned to be in the right place at the right time. While the author of the Magic Mountain talked about the complexity of time around World War I, in the 1990s time was compressed here.

The fall of communism, the lowering of global trade barriers, the opening up of China, the removal of apartheid in South Africa and the proliferation of the internet all unfolded in that decade.

Interactive: How's your economic mood?

As those events came together, so too did the major players as they made the journey to Davos. Michael Bloomberg, evolving as a global name in financial data and now the Mayor of New York City, sat alongside Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. U.S. President Bill Clinton outlined his party's historic move to the political center before a packed audience of global business executives.

To spice things up, rock stars and actors, as they became activists, chose the Davos platform: Bono, Richard Gere, Sharon Stone, Brad and Angelina would have the wealthiest and most powerful corporate titans freeze in their tracks.

Earlier this week, I walked into the main plenary hall as workers put the final touches on the stage and lighting. It is a venue which has welcomed countless political leaders and business executives, during internet booms and banking busts, in the midst of a Middle East crisis and even during the lead up to two Gulf Wars.

But that inter-play between geo-politics and business -- during the best and worst of times -- is what keeps the forum relevant. It allows this setting at the base of the Magic Mountain to endure and recreate something unique during what Mann rightly described as the ongoing complexity of our times.

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