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FRENCH TRADER IS BEING HELD IN BANK'S LOSSES

PARIS

A Paris court sent French trader Jerome Kerviel behind bars Friday, while the investigation into nearly 5-billion of euros (about $7-billion) of losses he allegedly caused for bank Societe Generale took a new twist with a second employee taken into custody. Investigators want to know whether Kerviel acted alone, and if so, how it was that a brokerage employee sent him a message before the scandal broke, saying: "You have done nothing illegal in terms of the law."

WASHINGTON

Liberty/DirecTV gets key backing

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin called Friday for the approval of Liberty Media Corp.'s purchase of a controlling stake in DirecTV Group Inc. from News Corp., with some conditions. The five-member FCC may vote on the transaction on or before Feb. 26.

U.S. inventories grew in December

U.S. wholesalers' inventories grew at 1.1 percent, the highest rate in more than a year, during December as sales plunged, a worrisome sign Friday that unsold goods were piling up on shelves as the economy slowed.

MIAMI

Fla. orange harvest will miss forecast

Florida's orange harvest will be slightly lower than previously forecast, federal agriculture officials said Friday, but the 1 percent change was not expected to affect orange juice prices that consumers pay. The United States Department of Agriculture reported that Florida, the nation's top citrus producing state, will squeeze out 166-million 90-pound boxes for the 2007-2008 season.

LAKE FOREST, ILL.

Grainger accused of overbilling

W.W. Grainger Inc., a distributor of building maintenance supplies, has been sued for overbilling the U.S. government by a former employee-turned-whistleblower, according to a complaint unsealed Friday by a federal court.

Montreal

Funds interested in Air Canada

ACE Aviation Holdings Inc., the parent company of Air Canada, has been approached by unidentified private equity and pension funds to buy Canada's largest airline, chief executive Robert Milton said Friday.

CULVER CITY, Calif

Sizzler restaurants put up for sale

Sizzler USA Holdings Inc., the operator of the steak restaurant chain, was put up for sale Friday by Pacific Equity Partners, the Australian buyout firm that paid $210-million for it in 2005. There are four restaurants in Florida, in the Orlando-Kissimmee area.

MADISON, Wis.

Intel is sued over processor patents

The University of Wisconsin-Madison's research arm has sued computer chip maker Intel, claiming the company violated the university's patents in making the popular Core 2 Duo processor, it was announced Friday.

Military honors

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, praised for its unique online multiplayer leveling system, was named overall game of the year and console game of the year at the 11th annual Interactive Achievement Awards. It also was honored as the top action and online game.

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