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April 23, 2012 at 8:16 PM   |   Comments

Stocks slide Monday

NEW YORK, April 23 (UPI) -- Stocks turned lower on Wall Street following big losses in Asia and Europe and news that Walmart was internally investigating allegations of bribery in Mexico.

Shares at the world's largest retailer fell after a lengthy New York Times article told of Walmart executives having ignored in-house concerns over bribes given to hasten development in Mexico.

Walmart shares fell 4.66 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average, where Walmart is listed, lost 102.09 points or 0.78 percent to 12,927.17.

The tech-dominated Nasdaq composite index shed 30 points or 1 percent to 2,970.45. The Standard and Poor's 500 index gave up 11.59 points or 0.84 percent to 1,366.94.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 823 stocks advanced and 2,226 declined on a volume of 3.4 billion shares traded.

The 10-year treasury note rose 1/32 to yield 1.936 percent.

The euro fell to $1.3156 from Friday's $1.3218. Against the yen, the dollar fell to 81.12 yen from Friday's 81.55 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index dropped 0.2 percent, 19.19, to 9,542.17.

In London, the FTSE 100 index shed 1.85 percent, 106.58, to 5,665.57.


Corporate spying common, study says

MUNICH, Germany, April 23 (UPI) -- A study of German companies found industrial spying is all but rampant, involving companies in Germany and around the world.

The spying involved companies in China, Russia, the United States and elsewhere, said the study, conducted by Corporate Trust, a security firm.

The study said nearly half of German companies report they have had company secrets stolen and 20 percent indicated they knew information was being hacked, but they did not know who was doing the spying.

The Local.de reported Monday the spying included some cloak and dagger strategies, including spies from the United States who used "special listening devices."

The study of 600 firms said German companies would lose $5.5 billion in 2012 as a result of industrial spying.

Nearly 60 percent of the trade in industrial secrets is perpetrated by a member of a company's own staff, but about half of the companies said they do not employ any specific strategy when staff members travel abroad.


China to loosen grip on exchange rate

WASHINGTON, April 23 (UPI) -- The deputy governor of the Bank of China, Yi Gang, said it was time to make renminbi's currency exchange rate more flexible.

"It's time to let the market more or less decide the rate while reducing the intervention," Yi at an annual International Monetary Fund meeting.

The China Daily reported Monday that Yi said "Yes," the government is planning to act on allowing the renminbi more flexibility.

"This reform is aiming at increasing the flexibility of the renminbi exchange rate and making market forces play a more important role in determining the rate," he said.

China said this month it would increase the currency's trading band against the U.S. dollar to 1 percent from 0.5 percent.

China has not given the renminbi that much flexibility since 2007.

Yi was not specific about when or how China would ease back controls on the renminbi, the newspaper said.

Some economists have said the renminbi was undervalued by 20 percent to 40 percent, giving the price of Chinese goods that much of an advantage in international trades.

China's recent moves to counter public criticism of its exchange rate policies has been minor, some have said.

Yi said caution was required.

"In terms of stimulating domestic demand, it is definitely the right direction to go, and lots may be done to achieve the goal, but we must avoid economic bubbles and exchange rate overshooting," Yi said.


Economic impact of 'dirty bomb' researched

LOS ANGELES, April 23 (UPI) -- A "dirty bomb" attack in downtown Los Angeles could severely hit the region's economy and cost nearly $16 billion in a decade, researchers say.

Economists and scientists writing in the journal Risk Analysis said the long-term costs of such an attack would be fueled primarily by psychological effects that could persist for a decade.

"We decided to study a terrorist attack on Los Angeles not to scare people, but to alert policymakers just how large the impact of the public's reaction might be," said study co-author William Burns, a research scientist at Decision Research in Eugene, Ore.

The immediate economic costs of such a terrorist event, in terms of injuries, cleanup and business closures, would likely exceed $1 billion, the researchers said, but the economic impact would continue for a long time.

"Terrorism can have a much larger impact than first believed," study co-author Adam Rose, a research professor with the USC Price School of Public Policy, said in a university release Monday.

People would remain wary of shopping or dining in the financial district for an extended period, the research showed, and employees would demand an average 25 percent increase in wages to return to their jobs in the affected area.

"The economic effects of the public's change in behavior are 15 times more costly than the immediate damage in the wake of a disaster," Rose said.

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