In a sign that the economy could grow at a modest clip in the next few months, the Index of Economic Indicators edged up 0.3 percent in December, the Conference Board said Tuesday. Analysts expected the index kept by the industry-backed research group to rise 0.4 percent.

Pfizer Inc., the world's largest drugmaker, said Monday it aims to slash the company's annual costs by as much as $2 billion by cutting 7,800 jobs (in addition to 2,200 layoffs made last year) and closing five facilities. Like other pharmaceutical firms, Pfizer has felt the pressure from generic drugs and the loss of expiring patents.

With tight security measures in place, four suspected Mexican drug lords, extradited last week, were brought into a Houston courtroom Monday to face drug and intimidation charges. The transfer reportedly was made because the men were said to be operating their drug rings from a Mexican prison.

In making the talk-show rounds Tuesday to discuss her bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York said she would look to her husband, former President Clinton, "for a lot of advice and guidance," but that she'd "make the [political] decisions" if elected.

The Army Corps of Engineers said Monday that it's begun to lower the water level of Lake Cumberland in southern Kentucky as a precaution against possible catastrophic flooding in the region. Although failure of the 50-year-old Wolf Creek Dam isn't imminent, the corps says, it needs to reduce the pressure on the nearly mile-long structure.

At the annual March for Life rally in Washington, two conservative Republican presidential hopefuls, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, said that, if elected, they would work to overturn the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill conveyed US concerns about China's recent antisatellite missile tests to Chinese officials in Beijing, a State Department spokesman said Monday. Hill reportedly urged greater transparency in the Chinese space program. The US and its allies have voiced alarm about the risks of a escalating military rivalry in space.

Bill Parcells, coach of the Dallas Cowboys, said Monday he has decided to retire after 19 years as an NFL bench boss. Although he once guided the New York Giants to two Super Bowl wins, the Cowboys never won a playoff game during his four years in Dallas. Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, the Steelers hired former Minnesota Vikings assistant Mike Tomlin as their new coach. He's the NFL's sixth black head coach.

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