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Sampp Lifted By Consumer Stocks Ibm Weighs On Dow

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– The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq edged higher on Friday following positive brokerage recommendations on a bunch of consumer names, but the Dow was reined in by losses in IBM.

Philip Morris (PM.N), Nike (NKE.N) and Home Depot (HD.N) rose between 1.3 percent and 4 percent as analysts expect lower taxes and improving trends to boost their earnings.

“We’ve seen estimates being raised for 2018, so that provides some fundamental underpinnings for the strength we’ve in equity markets,” said Bill Northey, senior vice president of U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Helena, Montana.

However, a “disappointing” full-year profit forecast from IBM (IBM.N) pushed its shares down 4 percent, on track for their biggest single-day loss since July 2017.

American Express (AXP.N) slipped 3 percent after posting its first quarterly loss in 26 years and suspended buybacks for the next six months.

At 12:42 p.m. ET (1742 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 53.94 points, or 0.21 percent, at 25,963.87. The S&P 500 .SPX was up 4.54 points, or 0.16 percent, at 2,802.57 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 25.02 points, or 0.34 percent, at 7,321.07.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, led by a 0.85 percent gain in the consumer staples index .SPLRCS and a 0.63 percent rise in discretionary stocks .SPLRCD.

The U.S. Senate raced to avert a government shutdown ahead of a midnight deadline with no agreement on funding in sight.

Although the House of Representatives voted on Thursday to extend the funding through Feb. 16, the bill appeared to be on the verge of collapse in the Senate.

“The market appears to be looking through this as a non-essential event, although we’re seeing a little bit of a pickup in volatility in the last couple of days,” Northey said.

Oil prices were down more than 1 percent as a bounce-back in U.S. production outweighed ongoing declines in crude inventories. [O/R]

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,718 to 1,111. On the Nasdaq, 2,004 issues rose and 896 fell.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru;

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Rarest White Diamond Ever To Be Sold In London

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LONDON – A flawless diamond, the size of a large strawberry, is expected to fetch a world record price when it comes to market at Sotheby’s in London this month.

Weighing just over 102 carats, the round, brilliant white stone is smaller than a 118-carat oval diamond sold in Hong Kong in 2013, which currently holds the record price per carat.

But Sotheby‘s, which also handled that Hong Kong sale, expects the smaller stone’s rarity and high quality will see it attract an even higher price.

Slideshow (5 Images)

“That (stone sold in Hong Kong) fetched $260,000 a carat, currently the world record for any colorless diamond. This one being a round brilliant cut – the asking price will be north of that,” Patti Wong, chairman of Sotheby’s Diamonds told Reuters.

The diamond is the only stone over 100 carats to have been given the highest grades in every criteria by the Gemological Institute of America, which judges a precious stone’s quality, Sotheby’s said.

It has not disclosed the asking price for the stone, which will be sold in a private sale.

(This story corrects weight of other diamond to 118, not 163, carats in second paragraph and specifies throughout this is private sale, not auction.)

Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London;

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Rarest White Diamond Ever To Be Auctioned In London

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LONDON – A flawless diamond, the size of a large strawberry, is expected to fetch a world record price when it goes on sale at Sotheby’s in London this month.

Weighing just over 102 carats, the round, brilliant white stone is smaller than a 163-carat oval diamond sold in Hong Kong in 2013, which currently holds the record price per carat.

But Sotheby‘s, which also handled that Hong Kong sale, expects the smaller stone’s rarity and high quality will see it attract an even higher price.

Slideshow (5 Images)

“That (stone sold in Hong Kong) fetched $260,000 a carat, currently the world record for any colorless diamond. This one being a round brilliant cut – the asking price will be north of that,” Patti Wong, chairman of Sotheby’s Diamonds told Reuters.

The diamond is the only stone over 100 carats to have been given the highest grades in every criteria by the Gemological Institute of America, which judges a precious stone’s quality, Sotheby’s said.

It has not disclosed the asking price for the stone, which will be sold in a private sale.

Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London;

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Israeli Archaeologists Unearth 1800-year-old Mosaic

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CAESAREA, Israel – A 1,800-year-old mosaic of toga-clad men dating back to the Roman era has been unearthed in Israel, archaeologists said on Thursday.

The mosaic was discovered during the excavation of a building from the Byzantine period – some 300 years younger than the mosaic it was on top of – in the coastal city of Caesarea.

“The surprise was actually that we found two beautiful monuments from the glorious days of Caesarea,” Peter Gendelman, co-director of excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority, told Reuters of the building and mosaic.

Caesarea was a vibrant Roman metropolis built in honor of Emperor Augustus Caesar by King Herod, who ruled Judea from 37 BC until his death in 4 BC.

Slideshow (5 Images)

The excavated portion of the mosaic, which the antiquities authority said was 3.5 meters by 8 meters in size, depicts three toga-clad men, as well as geometric patterns and an inscription in Greek, which is damaged.

If the mosaic came from a mansion, the figures could have been the owners, or if it was a public building, they may have been the mosaic’s donors or members of the city council, Gendelman said.

The mosaic was of a high artistic standard, with about 12,000 stones per square meter, the antiquities authority said.

Israel is undertaking the largest conservation and reconstruction project in the country in the Caesarea National Park, the antiquities team said. The project aims to reconstruct a Crusaders-era bridge.

Reporting by Rami Amichai; Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London;

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