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Nov. 26, 2012 at 11:23 PM   |   Comments

Markets mixed Monday

NEW YORK, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. stocks closed mixed Monday after a holiday week with markets mixed in Asia and lower in Europe.

After Black Friday's strong gains on light volume, investors focused on the delayed international help for Greece and worries that lawmakers in Washington would not be able to intervene in time to stop the "fiscal cliff."

The fiscal cliff is a series of federal spending cuts and tax increases totaling half a trillion dollars that, absent a bipartisan agreement, become law Jan. 1.

By close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 42.31 points or 0.33 percent to 12,967.37.

The Nasdaq added 9.93 points or 0.33 percent to 2,976.78 and the Standard & Poor's 500 lost 2.86 points or 0.2 percent to 1,406.29.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,323 stocks advanced and 1,726 declined on a volume of 2.9 billion shares traded.

The 10-year treasury note rose 8/32 to yield 1.667 percent.

On currency markets, the euro rose to $1.2992 from Friday's $1.2975. The dollar fell to 82.06 yen from Friday's 82.40 yen.

Japan's Nikkei rose 1.8 percent, 166.42 points, to 9,388.94 while the Hong Kong Hang Seng index was up 0.55 percent to 21,861.81, a gain of 118.61 points.

In London, the FTSE 100 index shed 0.56 percent, 32.42, to 5,786.72.

The DAX 30 in Germany lost 0.23 percent, 17.10, to 7,292.03.


Britain picks Canadian for BOE post

LONDON, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced Monday the next Bank of England governor would be Mark Carney, head of the Bank of Canada.

It is the first time Britain has decided to hand the leadership role at the bank to a foreigner, The New York Times reported. The surprise move also comes as the BOE takes over the role of Britain's top regulator for banking, making the move a critical appointment.

The current regulating body, the Financial Services Authority, is closing in 2013. Current bank Gov. Mervyn King, meanwhile, is resigning in July.

"This is a new job. Previously, the focus was mainly on monetary policy. Now it is about financial stability, monetary policy and macro-prudential policy. The key is to get the right mix of policy and making sure there is proper coordination [with the Exchequer]," said said Simon Hayes, an economist at Barclays.

The Exchequer is the British equivalent of the U.S. Treasury Department.

Many had expected the government to pick BOE Deputy Gov. Paul Tucker to take over King's job. That promotion may have been scrapped after emails between Tucker and Barclays bank Chief Executive Officer Robert Diamond Jr. surfaced showing discussions on the London inter-bank exchange rate or Libor.

The emails suggest Tucker may have agreed that the rate should be suppressed, the Times said.

Barclays has agreed to pay a $450 million fine to settle charges that it manipulated the Libor, a scandal that has turned into an even wider investigation of other banks that may have attempted to do the same.


Leaders try to revive Greek rescue

BRUSSELS, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Several European finance ministers said writing down public debt would not be part of the solution that puts the Greece's bailout program back on track.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble, Jorg Asmussen, a member of the executive board at the European Central Bank, and Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter have all said that writing down Greek debt, which would mean taxpayers across Europe would take a hit from the Greek bailouts, was not a palatable solution.

Schauble has even said the move would be illegal, The New York Times reported Monday.

But leaders gathered in Brussels Monday for a third meetings in three weeks to figure out how to get through an impasse that is holding up $40.8 billion in loans to Greece.

A new agreement could even clear the path so Greece can receive $57 billion, as a series of loans has been on hold since June, when the international community froze a $168.5 billion credit line set up for Greece.

While leaders debate how to accept that Greece will not hit budget targets on time, economic conditions in the country deteriorate further. Unemployment is about 24 percent and the gross domestic product is slipping quickly.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund is on the other side of the debate, arguing that a write-down or considerably larger loans will be necessary.

The IMF has drawn a line in the sand, insisting Greece lower its debt to 120 percent of its gross domestic product by the end of 2019.

It is now at 175 percent of GDP and could reach 200 percent by 2014 if the economy continues to shrink, some analysts have concluded.

It looks currently like something has to give. The IMF has to lower its expectations or creditors, such as Germany, have to expect either more money will be needed or a haircut -- losses -- on debt will be on the table.


Mary Schapiro to leave SEC

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- The White House announced Monday there would be a changing of the guard at the top office of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mary Schapiro, chairwoman of the Wall Street regulator, is stepping down Dec. 14. She will be replaced by Elisse Walter, who is already serving as an SEC commissioner, which means she will not require approval by Congress to take the job.

Schapiro has long complained to staff her job has been exhausting and she would leave after national election, The New York Times reported.

She has been at the SEC for four years, stepping in just as the financial crisis exploded into headline news, given the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September of 2008 and the arrest of Bernard Madoff in December of the same year.

Both were embarrassments to the regulatory agency that is supposed to regulate the financial system. Schapiro, who previously ran the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, took over the SEC in January 2009.

The agency, during her tenure, has tackled a record number of legal cases, but it has also drawn criticism for going after companies while allowing executives at those companies to escape prosecution.

"Over the past four years we have brought a record number of enforcement actions, engaged in one of the busiest rule-making periods and gained greater authority from Congress to better fulfill our mission," she said in a statement.

"When Mary agreed to serve nearly four years ago, she was fully aware of the difficulties facing the SEC and our economy as a whole. But she accepted the challenge, and today, the SEC is stronger and our financial system is safer and better able to serve the American people," President Barack Obama said in a statement.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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