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BUSINESS BRIEFLY

'Rodrick Rules' box office, debuting in the top spot

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A wimpy kid has delivered a knockout punch to a band of warrior vixens at the weekend box office.

The 20th Century Fox family sequel "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules" debuted as the No. 1 movie with $24.4 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. The girl-power action fantasy "Sucker Punch," released by Warner Bros., opened at No. 2 with $19 million.

The previous weekend's top movie, Relativity Media's sci-fi thriller "Limitless," slipped to third with $15.2 million, raising its total to $41.3 million.

"Rodrick Rules" did a bit more business than its predecessor, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," which opened a year ago with $22.1 million. The "Wimpy Kid" movies are based on the children's books by Jeff Kinney about a timid youth trying to cope at school and home.

While the "Wimpy Kid" sequel and "Sucker Punch" combined to deliver more than $40 million in revenue, Hollywood's long box-office dry spell continued.

Overall business totaled $120 million, down 7 percent from the same weekend last year, when "How to Train Your Dragon" debuted at No. 1 with $43.7 million, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.

1. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules," $24.4 million.

2. "Sucker Punch," $19 million.

3. "Limitless," $15.2 million.

4. "The Lincoln Lawyer," $11 million.

5. "Rango," $9.8 million.

6. "Battle: Los Angeles," $7.6 million.

7. "Paul," $7.5 million.

8. "Red Riding Hood," $4.3 million.

9. "The Adjustment Bureau," $4.2 million.

10. "Mars Needs Moms!", $2.2 million.

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Venezuela denies fraud ties

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuela's energy minister said the country's state oil company has no ties to a Connecticut hedge fund manager who has pleaded guilty to fraud in a scheme that could cost investors hundreds of millions of dollars.

Rafael Ramirez says Petroleos de Venezuela ended a contract with Francisco Illarramendi years ago.

Prosecutors say Illarramendi used investors' money to pay returns promised to earlier investors and created fraudulent documents to back up bogus claims about the investment funds.

Opponents of President Hugo Chavez have accused PDVSA officials of hiring Illarramendi to speculate on financial markets using a retirement fund for the state-run company's employees.

Ramirez on Sunday rejected the allegations.

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Alaska Airlines back up

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Alaska Airlines and its Horizon Air affiliate said Sunday they have resolved a computer outage that led to the cancellation of 150 flights a day earlier, disrupting travel plans for more than 12,000 passengers.

The company said in a statement that most of its flights are now operating on time, though about a dozen have been delayed due to crew scheduling issues. The company recommends passengers check their flight's status online or by calling (800) ALASKAAIR .

Passengers are boarding the next available flights at no charge, and in some cases are flying with other airlines, the company said.

Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said the outage occurred when a transformer blew and knocked out the company's computer system for creating flight plans. Technicians had been trying to install a backup power supply for the system.

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Investors reassured

HONG KONG (AP) -- Tens of thousands of people who lost money after investing in products tied to bankrupt U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. are to get most of their money back.

Sixteen Hong Kong banks and bankruptcy receiver PricewaterhouseCoopers announced an agreement Sunday that will give investors up to 96.5 percent of their money back.

Investors sued Lehman Brothers two years ago after the Wall Street firm's collapse left their bond holdings possibly worthless.

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