Wall Street uncertainty...Oil prices climb... BofA settles gender bias claims

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Associated Press

Posted on September 8, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Updated Sunday, Sep 8 at 9:00 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock traders are rattled by conflicting forces. A mediocre August jobs report suggests economic growth is slowing, providing a reason for the Federal Reserve to keep up its stimulus program. Escalating tensions between the U.S. and Syria only add to the uncertainty. As a result, the market ended flat yesterday. The S&P 500 rose less than a point. The Dow ended down 15 and the Nasdaq rose a point.

NEW YORK (AP) — Mideast tensions and hopes for continued stimulus measures from the Fed are pushing up the price of oil. It closed at a two-year high yesterday. Benchmark crude for October delivery rose $2.16, or 2 percent, to close at $110.53 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. For motorists, the average price of a gallon of gas slipped 1 penny to $3.58 on Friday.

NEW YORK (AP) — Bank of America has agreed to pay $39 million to settle claims by female brokers of gender bias. The deal was announced Friday by law firms representing women working as financial advisers or licensed financial advisers at Banc of America Investment Services or Merrill Lynch from 2007 through 2013. About 4,800 workers are eligible for the settlement .It still needs court approval.

UNDATED (AP) — IBM plans to move many retired workers off its health plan and give them money to buy coverage on a health-insurance exchange. The move is part of a corporate trend away from providing traditional retiree health benefits as costs rise. The company says it acted after projections showed that costs under its current plan for Medicare-eligible retirees will triple by 2020 and that the increases would be paid by retirees through premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

SMITHFIELD, Va. (AP) — Smithfield Foods says a committee that reviews mergers between U.S. and overseas companies for national-security implications has cleared the pork producer's proposed sale to a Chinese company. Hong Kong-based Shuanghui International Holdings agreed in May to buy Smithfield in a deal valued at $7.1 billion. Smithfield shareholders are set to vote Sept. 24.

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