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Stocks tumble on China, Ukraine worries

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Stocks ended the day sharply lower, with the Dow (^DJI) shedding over 200 points. Disappointing industrial output and retail sales data from China gave the market pause, and tensions rising in Ukraine pushed stocks lower. The Nasdaq (^IXIC) ended the day down 1.5%, and S&P 500 (^GSPC) lost nearly 1.2%.

Amazon (AMZN) announced the price of its Prime premium service will go up from $79 to $99 a year. The service offers free two-day shipping on qualified items, unlimited streaming on Prime Instant Video and free e-book borrowing from Amazon's Kindle library. In a January conference call, the company said the fee for Prime could go up $20-$40 because of rising fuel and shipping costs. Shares of Amazon closed today marginally higher.

In its continuing efforts to win back customers, J.C. Penney (JCP) is relaunching its home goods section today. The department store is reversing the move by former CEO Ron Johnson to make Penney’s more upmarket. Going back to lower-priced items and in-house brands is expected to drive traffic back to the store that was once a leader in home goods. The sector generated $4.2 billion and 20% of sales in 2006 for J.C. Penney, but then home goods dropped to $1.3 billion and 12% of sales in 2013. Citigroup upgraded the stock on Tuesday. J.C. Penney lost nearly 2% today.

After buying the pizza and arcade chain Chuck E. Cheese last month, Apollo Global Management (APO) is considering whether to buy Dave & Buster’s. Bloomberg reports that Oak Hill Capital Partners, which now owns Dave & Buster’s, is seeking about $1 billion dollars for the restaurant chain. Reuters reported in December that Dave & Buster’s was considering a sale or IPO. Apollo Global bought Chuck E. Cheese’s owner CEC Entertainment in a deal valued at $1.3 billion.

After announcing plans in November to spin-off its credit card business, General Electric (GE) has filed an IPO for that unit, to get out of the retail finance business and focus more on its industrial units. GE will initially offer 20% of the business, which will be named Synchrony Financial, and hopes to exit the business completely by 2015. Synchrony has about 62 million active accounts. GE shares closed down over 1.5% today. 

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