Dec. 15, 2006 at 5:25 PM
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Dow sets second straight record

NEW YORK, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- The Dow Jones industrials set a second straight closing record in the U.S. stock market Friday as investors showed elation over a favorable inflation signal.

The Consumer Price Index, the government's main inflation gauge, was unchanged in November, giving off indications of a healthy economy and a possible interest rate cut soon.

The market, on a volume of 3.1 billion shares, responded with the Dow gaining 28.76 points, or 0.23 percent, to reach 12,445.52, a new closing high, up 138 points, or 1.1 percent for the week.

Nasdaq was up 3.35, or 0.14 percent, at 2,457.20 and Standard & Poor edged up 1.60, or 0.14 percent, to 1,427.09.

Crude-oil prices gained 92 cents to $63.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Bonds gained and the dollar advanced.

Bernanke careful in China speech

BEIJING, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke backed away Friday from a potentially troublesome charge that China subsidizes exports, Beijing reports say.

Bernanke, speaking at the conclusion of a two-day, high level economic session between China and the United States, said China's currency policies were an "incentive" to exporters but steer investment away from industries that would benefit Chinese consumers, the Wall Street Journal said.

However, he was careful not to use the word "subsidy," as he had three times in his prepared text, in which he reportedly said China subsidized its exports by keeping its currency artificially weak against the dollar.

New rules remove mystery of exec pay

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- New rules went into effect Friday that should help shareholders and others to tell just how much top executives are paid.

Companies are now required to clearly explain their compensation practices and justify them, The Washington Post reported.

The method of determining compensation for the chief executive and other top officials and a pay table must be detailed and items not listed under the current year's compensation, such as stock option awards, now must be included.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ordered the changes this year, responding to rising clamor against annual double-digit percentage executive pay increases. Executive compensation practices have played a key role in several recent high-profile corporate accounting scandals.

Morgan Stanley chief due record bonus

NEW YORK, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Morgan Stanley boss John Mack is reported in line for the biggest bonus ever awarded to a Wall Street executive.

Mack, 62, will be joining Wall Street's exclusive $40 million club with stock and option grants he has coming, the New York Post reports.

Mack, who oversaw a multiyear turnaround at Morgan Stanley, was granted 461,821 company shares, valued as of Dec. 12 at $36.2 million in a recent regulatory filing. He also received 178,945 options to buy Morgan Stanley shares, which the bank valued at roughly $4 million. Morgan Stanley's stock is up 43 percent this year.

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