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Balboa pool fixed

(AP) -- Repairs to a nearly 100-year-old pond in San Diego's Balboa Park are finished at a cost of $50,000, eight months after hundreds of people trashed it during a midnight water fight.

Repairs were done over the winter when lilies are dormant.

Participants in the water fight, which was advertised on social media, trampled landscaping, damaged planters and busted a pipe that nearly drained the pond.

Donations raised by Friends of Balboa Park paid for the repairs.

While they were at it, workers rebuilt 27 boxes that house lily pads, installed new pipe and relined the rim with new plaster.

Reworking workers' comp

(AP) -- A plan to phase out Oklahoma's Workers' Compensation Court and switch to an administrative system has been endorsed by all of the state's major political players, and is being hailed by state business leaders as a way to drive down insurance costs.

But attorneys who represent injured workers say those hurt on the job are the ones who will suffer under the major changes being considered by the Oklahoma Legislature.

Oklahoma's workers' compensation system has been a priority for Republicans at the Legislature as many contend businesses in the state are being forced to pay higher workers' compensation insurance premiums than nearly every other state.

Oklahoma and Tennessee are the only states with a separate court system for handling workers' compensation cases.

The bill would replace the court system with a structure overseen by three commissioners appointed by the governor.

Administrative law judges would hear cases, and claimants would not need to be represented by attorneys.

Nebraska farms drop

(AP) -- The total number of Nebraska farms and ranches declined slightly in 2012.

The federal Agriculture Department says the total slid to 46,700 last year. That's down from the previous year's 46,800 and 2010's 47,200.

In Nebraska, the average farm size was 974 acres last year, compared with 972 the year before.

The number of farms with less than $100,000 in agricultural sales declined by 1,200 farms while the number of farms with more than $100,000 in sales grew by 1,100.

Lowe's 4Q income

(AP) -- Home improvement retailer Lowe's Cos. said Monday that cleanup efforts after Superstorm Sandy and its new pricing strategy helped boost its fourth-quarter net income surpass expectations.

But its net income fell 11 percent from last year's quarter, which included an extra week of revenue.

Lowe's (NYSE: LOW) has revamped its pricing structure, offering what it says are permanent low prices on many items across the store instead of fleeting discounts.

In addition, the housing market has been slowly improving, with home sales and prices rising. Home improvement retailers such as Lowe's are benefiting as people start spending more on their homes.

Lowe's net income totaled $288 million, or 26 cents per share, for the three months ended Feb. 1.

That's down from $322 million, or 26 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue fell 5 percent to $11.05 billion from.

Revenue in stores open at least one year rose 1.9 percent. The measure is a key gauge of a retailer's fiscal health because it excludes stores that open or close during the year.

For the fiscal year, net income rose 7 percent to $1.96 billion, or $1.69 per share, from $1.84 billion, or $1.43 per share.

Revenue edged up less than 1 percent to $50.52 billion from $50.21 billion last year.

Lowe's operates 1,754 stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

From Morgan Stanley

(Bloomberg) -- Richard Parkus, the former head of Morgan Stanley's commercial mortgage-backed securities research, will join $1.8 billion hedge fund Seer Capital Management LP, the firm said Monday.

Parkus, 53, will join Seer, based in New York, in March as a managing director and trader for the firm's CMBS investment strategy, as Seer seeks to expand its focus on the debt, according to the statement.

He left Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) earlier this month, where he was previously executive director and head of CMBS strategy and oversaw research related to the securities and to commercial real estate debt.

At Seer, Parkus will identify commercial mortgage and real estate debt investments and work with the firm's dedicated team, led by Tony Barkan, according to the statement.

Seer invests in securitized products including CMBS and residential mortgage-backed securities, asset-backed securities, collateralized loan obligations and collateralized debt obligations, the firm said.

Tennis star hotelier

(AP) -- Tennis star Andy Murray has bought a hotel near his hometown in Scotland.

The third-ranked Murray plans to transform the Cromlix House Hotel near Dunblane into a 15-room, five-star property.

The U.S. Open and Olympic champion said he is “pleased to be able to give something back to the community I grew up in.”

The project to expected to be completed by 2014 and will be managed on Murray's behalf by Inverlochy Castle Management International.

Bank benchmark

(Bloomberg) -- The Bank of Israel kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at its lowest in more than two years as rising house prices balanced slowing growth and inflation.

Governor Stanley Fischer and the monetary policy panel held the rate at 1.75 percent, the Jerusalem-based bank said Monday.

The Bank of Israel has gradually reduced the borrowing rate from 3.25 percent in 2011 in an effort to shore up the economy amid the European debt crisis.

The monetary expansion has helped fuel a surge in housing credit and home prices, which have increased by about 70 percent in the past five years.

“The housing prices situation is definitely worrying,” Yaniv Pagot, chief strategist at the Ramat Gan-based Ayalon Group Ltd., said prior to the announcement. “We are at a rate of increase that we haven't seen since the end of 2011.”

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