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By The Associated Press Published: January 8, 2013

Stores seek post-Sandy relief

— The owner of the Mandee, Annie Sez and Afaze clothing stores is citing effects from Superstorm Sandy as it seeks Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New Jersey. Totowa, N.J.-based Big M Inc. was recovering from the economic downturn when the late October storm closed most of its stores in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut for a week or more along with its offices and distribution center. Business never rebounded. Documents show the family-owned retailer hasn't collected from its insurance carrier. Big M says that left it without enough cash to operate. Westport Insurance Corp. says it's committed to promptly and fairly resolving Sandy-related claims. Big M reports debt of about $15 million. It was founded in 1948, operates 129 stores in eight states and employs about 1,200 people.

HBO, Universal extend agreement

— HBO on Sunday extended its deal with Universal Pictures to be the exclusive pay-TV provider of the studio's movies for another decade, the companies said. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. HBO, part of Time Warner Inc., and Universal Pictures, part of Comcast Corp., have had an agreement in place since 2003. The deal includes movies produced by Universal and its specialty films unit, Focus Features. The deal is key for HBO, which faces a threat from streaming movie providers like Netflix Inc. Since it is an exclusive agreement, Universal movies won't be able to be streamed on Netflix or other competitors until 2022 at the earliest.

Export hopes boost corn prices

Corn prices are ending higher as traders hope for a bounce in export demand. Wheat and soybean futures also rose. Corn for March delivery rose 5.25 cents to settle at $6.8550 a bushel Monday. Brandon Marshall, a commodity adviser with Northstar Commodity in Minneapolis, said traders were encouraged to pick up more corn contracts after the Department of Agriculture disclosed an unusually large order for the grain. Soybeans for March delivery rose 21.25 cents to settle at $13.8850 a bushel. Soybeans have been mostly falling since mid-December, when they went as high as $15 a bushel.

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