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Verizon workers OK strike

Verizon workers in Suffolk County voted overwhelmingly, 480-40, Wednesday night to authorize a strike, said Bob Morrow, the president of Local 1108 of Communications Workers America, which represents about 1,200 Verizon workers in the county. The local will now have to await the outcome of strike votes at other locals, mostly in New York State. The Nassau local approved a strike vote two weeks ago. The votes come amid tense contract negotiations with Verizon. The unions have said Verizon wants to eliminate job-security language, among other things. Verizon has said it needs to change its cost structure to reflect consumers' move toward more competitive wireless services and away from landline offerings. -- CARRIE MASON-DRAFFEN


Greece rescue boosts markets

What's good for Europe is good for markets. News that European leaders were drawing up a new rescue plan for Greece and taking a broader approach to dealing with Europe's debt troubles drove markets higher Thursday. Oil briefly crossed above $100 for the first time since June. The euro rose against the dollar, and U.S. government bonds fell. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 152.50 points, or 1.21 percent, to close at 12,724.41. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 17.96 points, or 1.35 percent, to 1,343.80. The Nasdaq composite index rose 20.20 points, or 0.72 percent, to 2,834.43. The yield on the 10-year Treasury jumped to 3.00 percent, up from 2.93 percent late Wednesday. The euro rose two cents to $1.44. -- AP

Microsoft net up 30 percent

Microsoft says its net income rose 30 percent in the latest quarter as revenue from its Office software increased. But revenue from the division that includes Microsoft's Windows operating system fell 1 percent, marking the third straight quarter of decline. This drop shows that consumers are buying fewer computers that use Microsoft's software. It may indicate that more consumers are moving to tablet computers. Total revenue for the fiscal fourth quarter rose 8 percent from last year to $17.4 billion, higher than the $17.2 billion that analysts polled by FactSet were looking for. Microsoft Corp. earned $5.87 billion, or 69 cents per share, compared with $4.52 billion, or 51 cents per share, a year ago. -- AP

Google lobbying tab at $2M

Google Inc.'s quarterly lobbying expenses surpassed $2 million for the first time while the U.S. government has conducted a wide-ranging investigation into the Internet search leader's business practices. The company spent $2.06 million trying to make its points with lawmakers and regulators during the April-June period, a 54 percent increase from $1.34 million a year earlier, according to documents filed late Wednesday. This year's second-quarter lobbying bill is by far the largest that Google has run up since opening its Washington, D.C., office in 2005 to push its agenda. The previous high came during the first three months of the year when Google poured $1.48 million into its lobbying efforts. In another first, Google is now spending more on lobbying than Microsoft Corp., a fierce rival and critic that has urged government regulators to rein in Google. -- AP

Top drug managers uniting

The top two U.S. companies managing prescription drug benefits are uniting in a $29.1-billion deal they say will help achieve key goals of the health care overhaul: reining in costs and improving patients' health. Express Scripts Inc. announced an agreement Thursday to buy larger rival Medco Health Solutions Inc. Together, they would handle the prescriptions of about 135 million people, more than one in three Americans. That will give them even more clout in demanding discounts from drugmakers. -- AP

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