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Stocks pare losses on strength in energy as oil prices rally

Stocks pared losses at midday, led by energy shares as oil prices rallied again. Earlier in the session, stocks were dragged lower on concerns about Greece and the Eurozone after Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he planned to unwind some of the austerity measures put in place as a condition of the international bailout of that country.

Energy shares bucked the downtrend as crude oil prices surged as much as 3%. In its monthly report, OPEC boosted its forecast for 2015 based on predictions that low prices would help sales this year. However, the cartel also said it does not yet see any signs of accelerating demand.

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In corporate news, McDonald’s (MCD) reported global same store sales declined 1.8% in January. That was a larger decline than the 1.2% Wall Street was expecting. U.S. same store sales, meanwhile, rose 0.4% versus the 0.3% Wall Street was looking for. That was the second consecutive gain in U.S. sales. The fast food giant has been struggling to win back U.S. customers. The December gain in U.S. sales was the first since October 2013.

McDonald’s has rolled out a series of new ads that focus on love and friendship, and promotions that allow customers to “pay” for food with a hug or a call to mom.

Yahoo Finance’s Jeff Macke says the company should worry less about love and friendship and focus more on making a better burger. “This is an incredible company,” says Macke. “All they have to do is stick to the basics.”

The real trouble spot has been Asia, specifically Japan, after reports that customers found pieces of plastic and a tooth in their food. In Monday’s statement, the company said “brand recovery” in Asia is a priority.

And finally, your TV may be spying on you and your car’s wireless may be vulnerable to hacking. CNBC reports that the new Samsung SmartTV may be capturing customers’ conversations. As part of the TV’s voice recognition feature, texts and other usage data may be collected.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. Your car could also be vulnerable to hackers, according to a new report from Senator Ed Markey’s office. According to the report, “nearly 100% of cars on the market include wireless technologies that could pose vulnerabilities to hacking or privacy intrusions."

How do you feel about your TV and your car “listening to you?” Does it bother you or do you take it as part of the new reality? Post a comment below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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