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Mortgage applications fell last week by 2.6% as snow covered much of the East Coast. Applications to refinance rose 0.3%, but are down 31.5% from a year ago. Applications to purchase a home fell 7% from a week earlier but are 17% higher than a year ago. (Mortgage Bankers Association)

Job growth in the private sector slowed a bit in January as larger companies hired fewer workers than the previous month and manufacturing jobs were flat, according to ADP and Moody's Analytics. However, the private sector added 205,000 new positions. Strong job growth in the service sector that added 192,000 jobs. Financial firms added19,000 workers for the biggest gain since March 2006. Medium-sized firms, 50 to 499 employees, added the most with 82,000 jobs, while companies with more than 500 workers added 44,000, just half December's total. (CNBC)

Amazon is planning to open hundreds of physical bookstores.  The number may be as high 300 to 400 brick-and-mortar locations. In November, Amazon opened its first brick-and-mortar store in Seattle. Amazon has promised that literature sold at Amazon Books will not differ in price from its online price tag. (Wall Street Journal)

Merck reported a 2.5% fall in quarterly revenue, hurt by a strong dollar. Profits fell to $981 million down from $7.32 billion last year. Revenue fell to $10.22 billion. (CBC)

The S&P 500 is up 6 and the NASDAQ is up 11. The MSCI international index is up.

Oil is up 25 cents at $30.25 a barrel.

Gold is up $5 at $1132 a Troy ounce.
 

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