Stocks down…Oil up… Crash victims’ families sue GM

— Stocks are closing slightly lower after an early rally faded away. The Standard Poor’s 500 lost 5 ½ points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 1,866 today. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 28 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,305. The Nasdaq composite dropped 42 1/2 points, or 1 percent, to 4,276.

The price of oil is above $99 a barrel as the West expands sanctions against Russia and warns of possible penalties against Moscow’s energy industry. Benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery rose 56 cents at settle at $99.46 a barrel in New York. Oil prices were held in check by data showing U.S. crude supplies rose by nearly 6 million barrels for the week ended March 14.

The families of three teenagers killed or injured in a 2006 Wisconsin crash involving a Chevrolet Cobalt are suing General Motors. Last month GM recalled 1.6 million Cobalts and other small cars to replace faulty ignition switches. GM has said it knew of the problem for at least 11 years. The plaintiff’s attorney says GM failed to warn the teens of a dangerous defect and misrepresented the car’s safety.

North Carolina regulators are asking a judge to withdraw a proposed settlement that would have allowed Duke Energy to resolve environmental violations by paying a $99,000 fine with no requirement that the $50 billion company clean up its pollution. The move comes after a Feb. 2 spill at a Duke coal ash dump in Eden coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic sludge.

President Barack Obama is meeting today with CEOs from leading Internet and technology companies to discuss their concerns about privacy and National Security Agency programs. Obama is hosting the leaders in the Oval Office. Two months ago, Obama gave a speech proposing changes to NSA spying programs following public and industry concern.

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