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Oct. 28, 2010 at 6:58 PM
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U.S. markets mixed Thursday

NEW YORK, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. markets were mixed Thursday with jitters over the possibility that, no matter the news, markets are headed for a downward correction.

Positive corporate reports came in from Exxon Mobil, where revenues rose from $82.3 billion to $95.3 billion, compared with the third quarters of 2009 and 2010. Colgate-Palmolive met expectations with third-quarter earnings of $1.21 per share, although sales were down, The Street reported.

The Labor Department said first-time jobless benefit claims dropped by 21,000 in the week ending Oct. 23, dropping the four-week rolling average of initial claims to 453,250.

By close, the Dow Jones industrial average shed 12.33 points or 0.11 percent to 11,113.95. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 0.11 percent, 1.33, to 1,183.78. The Nasdaq composite index also was flat, gaining 4.11 or 0.16 percent to 2,507.37.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,498 stocks advanced and 1,442 declined on a volume of 3.2 billion shares traded.

The benchmark 10-year treasury note gained 19/32 to yield 2.661 percent.

The euro rose to $1.3927 from Wednesday's $1.3768. Against the yen, the dollar fell to 80.99 yen from Wednesday's $81.71 yen.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index lost 0.22 percent, 21 points, to 9,366.03.

In Britain, the FTSE 100 index added 0.56 percent, 31.87, to 5,677.89.

GM, Chrysler, plug in investments, jobs

DETROIT, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Chrysler LLC and General Motors Co. confirmed they would invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Illinois and Michigan in anticipation of recovering sales.

Chrysler said Thursday it would spend $600 million to add a 638,000 square-foot body shop at its Belvidere, Ill., Assembly Plant.

Work on the expansion should be completed in 2011 to have the upgrades available for work on 2012 model cars, Chrysler said.

In the statement, Chrysler did not mention how many jobs the investment the expansion at the plant would create. But the company thanked the state of Illinois for support and "more importantly, this investment recognizes the support of the United Auto Workers and the role that our skilled and dedicated workforce has played," Chrysler said.

GM said in its own statement it would spend $190 million on upgrades at its Lansing, Mich., Grand River plant for production of Cadillacs. The investment anticipates the addition of a second shift at the plant, adding 600 workers to the payroll.

GM Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson said the move would accommodate demand for "America's fastest-growing luxury brand this year."

Chrysler said its investment contributed to $2.1 billion invested in plants since June 2009. GM said it had invested $3.1 billion in its facilities since July 2009, adding 7,900 jobs.

Both companies emerged from bankruptcy last summer with billions of dollars in taxpayer assistance.

British executive pay expected to surge

LONDON, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Pay among Britain's top executives is set to rise sharply this year, opening executives up to a new wave of criticism, the editor of an income report said.

"It seems the days of earnings restraint by FTSE directors were short-lived," said Steve Tatton, editor of the IDS Directors' Pay Report, referring to companies listed on London's FTSE 100 stock index.

"It stands in contrast to the Coalition Government's concern about new fairness and calls for senior executives in the public sector to accept pay cuts," he said.

The IDS Directors' Pay Report says executive compensation among Britain's 100 largest firms would rise 55 percent in 2010, The Daily Mail reported Thursday.

While the government debates austerity budget cuts, Reckitt Benckiser Chief Executive Officer Bart Becht is expected to earn $148 million this year. Mining company Xstrata is set to pay its CEO Mick Davis $40.6 million. Michael Spencer, CEO of financial firm ICAP is expected to earn $38.7 million, the newspaper said.

Base pay increases are expected to rise 3.6 percent, in line, more or less, with other workers. Bonus pay among bankers is making the difference. London banks expect to pay $11.15 billion in bonuses this year.

CBI director general Richard Lambert, a former member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, has already registered his concern on the huge compensation packages. 'If leaders of big companies seem to occupy a different galaxy from the rest of the community, they risk being treated as aliens," he said earlier this year.

Google in France agrees to ad rule changes

PARIS, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- French regulators said Thursday U.S. Internet giant Google will alter its policies on blocking advertising to settle a speed-trap mapping service's complaint.

Google, based in Menlo Park, Calif., previously refused to sell sponsored links to French company NavX, which has a mapping service that pinpoints the location of speed traps on French roads, The New York Times reported.

Google based its decision on the point that devices that detect police radar are illegal in France.

Among other changes, Google, in a settlement with the French Competition Authority, said it would give three months of notice to advertisers it planned to discontinue.

Google said the settlement included "no finding of dominance or monopoly abuse" and "recognized Google's right to set clear content priorities that guarantee ads are appropriate.

Ron Soffer, an attorney for NavX, called it "a monumental event, because the French Competition Authority got Google to modify its contractual rules on a worldwide basis."

"So if you are in the shoe business in California and Google suddenly decides it doesn't like shoes, this settlement will affect you," Soffer said.

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