U.S. Stocks Slide Wednesday

NEW YORK, (UPI) — U.S. markets re-opened Wednesday after a nearly unprecedented two-day derailment due to a massive hurricane that swept the East Coast.

Hurricane Sandy forced the closure of equity markets for two days — the first multiple-day weather related closure since 1888.

Concerns arose over emergency systems and why they did not rise to the occasion. But the other debate centered around re-booting the massive financial system of which New York City is the epicenter.

But the big trading boards at the New York Stock Exchange flickered back on at 9:30 a.m., with emergency generator power, and just-try-to-stop-us New York was back on line.

Equity markets were higher across Asia and Europe. In early afternoon trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average shed 30.58 points, 0.23 percent, to 13,076.63. The Nasdaq composite index shed 16.18 points, 0.54 percent, to 2.971.77. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gave up 2.71 points, 0.19 percent, to 1,409.23.

The benchmark 10-year treasury gained 7/32 to yield 1.696 percent.

The euro rose to $1.2967 from Tuesday’s $1.2959. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 79.86 yen from 79.62 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index added 0.98 percent,m 86.31, to 8,928.29.

In London, the FTSE 100 index lost 1.15 percent, 67.20, to 5,782.70.

Crude Oil Rises Post Hurricane Sandy

NEW YORK, (UPI) — Crude oil prices topped $86 per barrel in New York Wednesday morning, as traders assessed the impact of a major storm on the East Coast.

Demand and supplies were affected. Power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy and closing of some businesses could slow demand temporarily, while flooding at two refineries, including the second-largest on the East Coast near Philadelphia, were under scrutiny, as well.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil for December delivery added 63 cents to reach $86.31 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Reformulated gasoline added 4.16 cents to $2.6571 a gallon. Home heating oil added 0.63 cents to hit $3.076 a gallon.

Natural gas added 0.57 cents to reach $3.748 per million British thermal units.

At the pump, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $3.521, down from Tuesday’s $3.534, AAA reported.

Americans Eat 20 Million Pounds Of Candy Corn

SANTA MONICA, Calif., (UPI) — At just 3.57 calories a piece, candy corn is a Halloween staple, but it hardly resembles corn and isn’t the least bit healthy, a U.S. food expert says.

“Maybe it’s time for a healthier candy corn,” Phil Lempert, a food industry analyst, trend watcher and creator of supermarketguru.com, said in a statement. “Halloween accounts for 75 percent of the annual candy corn production and according to social media analyst NetBase, candy corn is the most talked about Halloween candy this year — both the good and the bad!”

Candy corn was created in the 1880s by George Renninger of the Wunderlee Candy Co., but shortly afterwards the Goelitz Confectionary Co., the firm that ultimately became Jelly Belly, began producing the candy, Lempert said.

The National Confectioners Association estimates 20 million pounds of candy corn are sold each year and the top branded retailer of candy corn today, is Brach’s.

“Today, candy corn is made primarily from sugar, corn syrup, wax, artificial coloring and binders, but recipes vary by manufacturer,” Lempert said. “It’s thought they sell enough candy corn annually, to circle the earth 4.25 times if the kernels were laid end to end. Now that’s scary!”

Utility: What To Do If The Power Is Out

JACKSON, Miss., (UPI) — If a home has lost power due to Hurricane Sandy or any other storm, Consumers Energy in Michigan advises people to closely monitor the media.

Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy, which provides natural gas and electricity in Michigan advises to avoid traveling to or through storm-damaged areas if possible because it puts people at risk or hampers restoration efforts.

Consumers Energy also advises storm survivors to:

— Unplug appliances, but keep one light “on” so you’ll know when your electricity has been restored.

— Stay away from fallen power lines and anything a line may be touching. Report downed power lines immediately.

— Don’t attempt to repair or remove limbs from lines.

— Survey your property for any visible damage and possible lingering effects of the storm, such as hanging branches or sagging lines. Report potential hazards and keep others, especially children, away from fallen trees and power lines.

— Offer to help neighbors who may need special assistance: infants, the elderly or people with disabilities.

— Arrange for clean up on your property of any debris. Utility companies will take care of pole or wire replacement and clean up, but tree and other debris can pose a hazard and should be removed promptly by the homeowner.

— Please don’t interfere with utility crews while they are working.

— If you are leaving the house, turn the main circuit breaker off.

Peers As Influential Online As In Person

ANN ARBOR, Mich., (UPI) — Peers are influential when it comes to alcohol and drug use, and they are just as influential online as they are in person, U.S. researchers suggest.

Sarah Stoddard and colleagues at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor conducted an online survey of 3,447 of U.S. adults ages 18-24.

The survey found those who thought their parents and peers would be upset if they viewed images of their drinking and drug use online were less likely to drink. In addition, young adults who reported more online peer support were less likely to use alcohol.

Stoddard and colleagues found those who were concerned about negative reactions from others if they were to post images of drinking and drug use online were less likely to report marijuana use.

The study is scheduled to appear in the November issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

No survey details were provided.

Beating Cancer Is Step One For Survivors

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., (UPI) — More than one-third of the 12.6 million U.S. cancer survivors have physical or mental problems that put their overall health in jeopardy, researchers say.

Lead author Kathryn Weaver, assistant professor at Wake Forest Baptist in Winston-Salem, N.C., said 25 percent of cancer survivors reported poor physical health and 10 percent reported poor mental health, versus 10 percent of adults without cancer reporting poor physical health and 6 percent of adults without cancer reporting poor mental health.

“Until now, we didn’t have clear data on quality-of-life issues for the population of U.S. cancer survivors,” Weaver said in a statement. “This information should help doctors and researchers identify groups of survivors who may be at risk for long-term problems after cancer. In addition, it can help us know if some of the national efforts to improve life for cancer survivors are making a difference.”

The researchers analyzed data from a 2010 nationwide health survey, which included data specific to cancer survivors collected by the Centers for Disease and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute. The scientists identified 1,822 cancer survivors and compared them with 24,804 adults with no history of cancer.

The study was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Single Junk-Food Meal Can Damage Arteries

TORONTO, (UPI) — A single junk-food meal — rich in saturated fat — is detrimental to the health of the arteries, researchers in Canada said.

Dr. Anil Nigam and colleagues at the University of Montreal-affiliated EPIC Center of the Montreal Heart Institute, compared the effects of a junk-food meal and a typical Mediterranean meal on the vascular endothelium, the inner lining of the blood vessels. Endothelial function is closely linked to the long-term risk of developing coronary artery disease.

The study involved 28 non-smoking men, who underwent an ultrasound of an artery at the elbow crease after fasting for 12 hours to assess their baseline endothelial function. The Mediterranean meal was composed of salmon, almonds and vegetables cooked in olive oil, with 51 percent of total calories mostly from monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats, or “good” fat. One week later, the second meal consisted of a sandwich made of a sausage, an egg, a slice of cheese and three hash browns, with 58 percent of total calories from fat, mostly saturated fatty acids.

Two hours and 4 hours after each meal, participants underwent further ultrasounds to assess how the food had impacted their endothelial function.

The study found after eating the junk-food meal, the arteries dilated 24 percent less than they did when in the fasting state, while the arteries dilated — expanded — normally and maintained good blood flow after the Mediterranean-type meal.

“Poor endothelial function is one of the most significant precursors of atherosclerosis,” Nigam told the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress meeting in Toronto.

Report: Big Banks Back Big Pollution

SAN FRANCISCO, (UPI) — The Rainforest Action Network said major U.S. banks, while embracing a green business model, continue to invest in polluting energy resources.

A report from the advocacy group stated that while major U.S. banks have taken strides to reduce the environmental footprint from branches and corporate offices, they’ve done little to curb investments in conventional energy resources such as coal.

“Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have begun to disrupt the global climate, triggering extreme weather events around the globe,” Ben Collins, a campaigner for Rainforest Action Network, said in a statement. “To address this growing climate crisis, the global economy must rapidly transition to low-carbon energy sources that can power our future.”

The Rainforest Action Network points to JPMorgan Chase, which has close ties to major emitter Duke Energy while setting a benchmark of cutting its own emissions by 80 percent of their 2005 levels by 2012. JPMorgan, in a 2010 report, said it’s invested more than $380 million in wind energy projects in the United States.

The Rainforest Action Network report calls on major banks to “disclose comprehensive financed emissions data and commit to financed emissions reduction targets of at least 3.9 percent per year.”

Google Adds New Compose Features To Gmail

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., (UPI) — Google says a new feature in its Gmail program will allow users to reference the content of other emails without having to close out a message they’re writing.

An email draft a user is writing would remain on top of the main Gmail window similar to a pop-up chat screen but not completely obscure it, allowing the user to access the main window to read and reference previously received messages, Mashable reported Tuesday.

“How many times have you been writing an email and had to reference something in another message?” Google said in a blog post describing its “compose and reply” feature. “Saving a draft, opening the old email, and then reopening your draft wastes valuable minutes. The new compose pops up in a window, just like chats (only larger).”

The new feature gives users the ability to search and monitor new mail as it is received while composing an email at the same time, or work on multiple emails simultaneously, minimizing any of them the user might want to complete later, Google said.

“The new compose is designed to let you focus on what’s important: your message.” Google said. “The controls are still there when you need them but get out of the way when you don’t.”

Thief Targets Traditional Asian Medicines

MONTEREY PARK, Calif., (UPI) — A California man was arrested for allegedly trying to steal traditional oriental herbal remedies, police said.

Man Van Truong, 56, was charged after he was stopped from stealing a barrel of ginseng outside a Chinese medicine store in Monterey Park, Calif. Police already had a car description matching Truong’s black Honda in relation to another foiled attempt to steal dried sea cucumber, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

Ginseng and sea cucumber are both thought to have broad healing powers in Asian cultures. They command a high price, too. A pound of ginseng sells for $300; sea cucumber goes for $150 a pound.