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Friday, February 25, 2022 6:47 PM

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NEW YORK, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Bargain hunting boosted U.S. markets Friday after a midweek tumble.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed 61.95 points or 0.51 percent higher, reaching 12,130.45, despite lower-than-expected growth in the U.S. gross domestic product.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 13.78 or 1.06 percent to 1,319.88. The Nasdaq composite index added 43.15 or 1.58 percent to 2,781.05.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 2,442 stocks advanced and 569 declined on a volume of 5.5 billion shares traded.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis revised the fourth-quarter GDP estimate from 3.2 percent to 2.8 percent. Economists had predicted the second of three estimates would show a slight bump to 3.3 percent.

Markets closed mixed Thursday but took a beating in the two previous sessions as oil prices clipped the $100 per barrel mark briefly due to spreading unrest in the Middle East.

Oil prices rose Friday, adding 96 cents to $98.24 per barrel, failing to reach the $100 mark it hit Wednesday, as Saudi Arabia said it was talking with oil companies to increase supplies during the political crisis in Libya.

The benchmark 10-year treasury note rose 6/32 to yield 3.43 percent.

The euro fell to $1.3749 from Thursday's $1.3802. Against the yen, the dollar fell to 81.7255 yen from Thursday's 81.87 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index gained 0.71 percent, 74.05, to 10,526.76.

In London, the FTSE 100 index rose 1.37 percent, 81.22, to 6,001.20.

Feds make arrest in $74 million Ponzi case

ALBUQUERQUE, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- U.S. prosecutors said Albuquerque businessman Douglas Vaughan was arrested Friday on charges of running a $74 million Ponzi scheme.

In an indictment unsealed after his arrest on 17 counts of mail fraud, five counts of money laundering and five counts of writing false documents, the Department of Justice said Vaughan owed 600 investors $74 million, which became apparent when the Ponzi scheme collapsed in 2010.

Between 2005 and 2010, "Vaughan operated a promissory note investment program, which he marketed as a means of generating revenue to grow his real estate business, as a Ponzi scheme," the department said.

Vaughan allegedly told investors their participation in his promissory note program was "virtually risk-free," the department said.

Instead of making the real estate investments he marketed, however, Vaughan used fresh investment money to pay interest and principal on previous investments -- the trademark of a Ponzi scheme -- to pay himself and subsidize his real estate business, the indictment says.

"The case against Vaughan is fundamentally about deceit," said U.S. Attorney General Kenneth Gonzales.

The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico.

Saudis have a plan for high oil prices

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia is aware spiking oil prices are diplomatic and economic liabilities, a political science professor at the University of Vermont said.

"They know their value to the world as the central bank of oil," Professor F. Gregory Gause III said, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

Essentially, oil priced at $100 per barrel, which occurred Wednesday this week, can be very profitable, but it can also be debilitating to the global economy and cause such a disruption that demand slackens.

As such, Saudi officials have spent much of the week reassuring world leaders they can make up the difference in oil lost to the world market by the uprising in Libya.

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia said it had held "active talks" with oil companies about increasing output, the Times said.

"The fear premium is back and we're now talking real oil, real disruptions," said Energy Intelligence Group Chief Economist David Knapp.

"Libya is a significant source of petroleum products and natural gas going across the Mediterranean," he said.

Libya supplies 2 percent of the world's oil, but the low-sulfur oil produced in Libya is hard to replace.

Nevertheless, Saudi oil can be processed by refineries that handle Libya's "sweet" crude oil, the Times said.

Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars upgrading production readiness at idle oil fields that creates a spare capacity in the country of 3.5 million barrels of oil.

As a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Saudi Arabia is limited to production of 8.05 million barrels a day, but analysts say it has produced 400,000 barrels per day over its quota since October to help keep prices in the $70 to $90 per barrel range.

Google to 'demote' some sites in search

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Feb. 25 (UPI) -- U.S. search giant Google says it will make changes to demote "low-quality" or "shallow" Web sites from search results, a move aimed at "content farms."

The change to the company's search algorithm, which will affect around 12 percent of Google search queries, comes following pressure from the media industry and many of Google's users, the British newspaper The Guardian reported Friday.

Google has been criticized for allowing content farm sites like Demand Media (NYSE:DMD) -- sites that churn out thousands of articles a day based on popular search terms -- to "pollute" its results.

"This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites -- sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other Web sites or sites that are just not very useful," Google said in a blog posting.

The move is seen as part of Google's attempt to attract news organizations and other "high-quality" content producers, The Guardian said, after some publishers' content slipped down in Google search results as the impact of content farms grew.

(Source: UPI )
(Source: Quotemedia)


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