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CORPORATE EARNINGS

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. easily beat Wall Street's predictions with strong profits from fees generated by mergers and acquisitions and initial public stock offerings. The fifth-largest U.S. investment bank on Tuesday posted net income of $756 million, or $1.54 a share, for the quarter ended Nov. 26, easily beating analysts' estimates of $1.25, according to First Call/Thomson Financial. Total fourth-quarter revenues jumped 265 percent to $3.47 billion from $915 million a year earlier.

ConAgra Inc. on Tuesday reported a 15 percent increase in earnings from continuing operations in the second quarter, meeting analysts' expectations. The maker of Parkay margarine and Healthy Choice foods reported operating earnings of $252 million, or 53 cents per share, in the quarter ended Nov. 28, up from $219 million, or 46 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Net income was $187 million, or 39 cents per share, down 14.5 percent from $219 million, or 46 cents per share, during the year-ago period. The decline reflects costs related to an effort announced in May to improve efficiency that included cutting 7,000 jobs and closing at least 15 production plants.

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