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The US Senate on Wednesday failed to override a presidential veto blocking a bill that approved construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, halting -- at least for now -- Republican efforts to advance the project. President Barack Obama issued the veto last month, after the Republican-controlled Congress overcame considerable Democratic opposition to pass legislation approving the controversial pipeline on February 11. Overriding the veto required a two-thirds majority in the Senate and House of Representatives, but the bill failed at the first hurdle Wednesday -- even though some Democrats joined Republican rivals supporting the pipeline. The president said last month he is not against Keystone in principle, but accused legislators of trying to "circumvent longstanding and proven processes" for gauging whether it is in the national interest.
US stocks fell for a second day Wednesday after a run that saw new Dow and S&P records and a 15-year high for the Nasdaq. Dull data on private business hiring and service sector growth, and a so-so Beige Book economic survey from the Federal Reserve kept traders cautious, with eyes now on Friday's official jobs market report for February, and the European Central Bank meeting Thursday. At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 106.47 points (0.58 percent) at 18,096.90. The broad-based S&P 500 fell 9.25 (0.44 percent) to 2,098.53, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite dropped 12.76 (0.26 percent) to 4,967.14.
The US economy continued to grow at a fairly moderate rate in recent weeks despite bad winter weather in some regions, according to a Federal Reserve report released Wednesday. Fed contacts in the Boston area, pummeled by heavy snowfalls, "were fairly upbeat this period, notwithstanding the severe weather," the report said. The slide in crude-oil prices, which have fallen more than 50 percent since June, showed up in reduced production in several districts as energy companies scaled back investment.