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Thursday PM February 10th, 2011

McAfee says Chinese hackers are targeting U.S. oil companies…Amazon to close Dallas distribution center…Blockbuster putting itself on the block…Business inventories and 30-year mortgage rates up, unemployment claims down…


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Cybersecurity firm McAfee says hackers working from China have broken into computers of oil companies in the United States and three other countries. A report by McAfee says hackers stole sensitive information about operations, finances and bidding for oil fields. McAfee says the attacks began in November 2009. The report does not identify the companies, saying only they are based in the U-S, Taiwan, Greece and Kazakhstan. Computer security consultants say China is a leading center for internet crime including sophisticated industrial espionage aimed at major companies.

Online retail giant will close its suburban Dallas distribution center after a dispute with the State of Texas over millions in state sales taxes. The Associated Press obtained an e-mail sent to Amazon employees by Vice President of Operations Dave Clark, saying the center will close April 12. Last year, the Texas Comptroller’s office demanded $269 million in uncollected sales taxes. Amazon subsequently filed a lawsuit against the state, demanding it produce the audit that generated the figure. The company has been the target of numerous lawsuits filed by states seeking sales taxes on online purchases.

Dallas-based movie rental chain Blockbuster plans to put itself up for sale after a disagreement with its creditors, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The newspaper says Blockbuster could not agree with its creditors on a plan to get cash to help it exit bankruptcy protection. The Journal says a bidder could offer more than $300 million for the chain, plus assuming debt and leases. The chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September and said it would continue to operate its 3300 stores.

The Commerce Department says wholesale businesses boosted inventories 1% in December, pushing the total to $430.5 billion. The average rate on the 30-year mortgage topped 5% this week for the first time since April. And the number of people applying for unemployment benefits plunged last week to the lowest level since July 2008.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media's business reporter, covering the oil...

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