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SURPRISE RETAIL GAIN PUSHES DOW AHEAD 178

WASHINGTON

Retail sales posted a surprising rebound in January following a dismal December. Economists saw the increase as a temporary blip rather than a sustained recovery. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that retail sales rose by 0.3 percent last month after having fallen by 0.4 percent in December. The increase was led by higher demand for new cars and a big jump in sales at gasoline service stations that primarily reflected rising pump prices. The news lifted Wall Street's spirits, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 178.83 points to close at 12,552.24.

PARIS

Agency slices oil demand outlook

The International Energy Agency on Wednesday cut its forecast of 2008 global oil demand growth and pinned the expected drop on slowing world economic activity caused by U.S. financial woes taking root elsewhere in the world. The energy adviser to the world's wealthiest nations cut its world crude consumption forecast by 310,000 barrels a day from its January report, after the International Monetary Fund recently lowered its outlook for world economic activity. The IEA sees 2008 world oil demand growing by 1.7-million barrels a day from last year, down from the 1.98-million barrels a day forecast in January.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas

Clear Channel sale wins approval

The Justice Department on Wednesday approved the $19.5-billion sale of Clear Channel Communications Inc., the largest U.S. operator of radio stations and the world's largest billboard company. The approval of the sale to a group of investors led by private equity firms Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners is the final regulatory hurdle for a deal that initially struggled to get shareholder approval. The deal, which allows some shareholders to continue owning a minority portion in an unusual equity buyout structure, is expected to close by March 31.

No home-brewing advantage

The headquarters of the proposed joint venture between Molson Coors and SABMiller will not likely be in either Denver or Milwaukee, where the two companies have strong ties, said Molson Coors chairman Pete Coors, right, stressing neutrality.

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