Dow's gains turn lean Tuesday
NEW YORK, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Gains on the Dow Jones industrial average flattened at the end of trading Tuesday, a 130-point afternoon rally dwindling to a seven point dud.
U.S. markets started slow, as the U.S. Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee began a two-day policy meeting. Predictably, when the Open Market Committee is in session, investors tend to make cautious moves until the meeting adjourns and the Fed indicates what direction it will take.
Currently, the Fed is considering options to stimulate a sputtering economic recovery.
Tuesday started with light losses, then stocks rose as investor fears were assuaged temporarily by Greece, which is close to default, but managed to make a $1 billion bond coupon payment Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported.
By close of trading, predictable returned. The DJIA closed 7.65 points higher on the day, a gain of 0.07 percent to 11,408.66. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 2 points or 0.17 percent to 1,202.09. The Nasdaq composite index shed 22.59 points or 0.86 percent to 2,690.24.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,101 stocks advanced and 1,921 declined on a volume of 3.6 billion shares traded. Another 104 stocks were unchanged.
The benchmark 10-year treasury note rose 2/32 to yield 1.942 percent.
The euro rose to $1.3704 from Monday's $1.3686. Against the yen, the dollar fell to 76.43 yen from Monday's 76.59 yen.
In Asia, stocks were mostly higher, except in Japan, where the stock market was closed Monday for a national holiday.
In Hong Kong and China, markets were up about 0.5 percent. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index dropped 1.61 percent, losing 142.92 points to 8,721.24.
In London, the FTSE 100 index rose 1.98 percent, 104.15, to 5,363.71.
Democrats, auto groups, oppose funding cut
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- An alliance of trade groups and 77 U.S. congressmen are appealing to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to maintain funding for a fuel-efficiency program.
House Republicans have proposed cutting $1.5 billion from a federal loan program administered by the Environmental Protection Agency that is designed to help automobile manufactures with research and development projects that increase automobile fuel efficiency, the Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday.
"We're working to save a program that was created with bipartisan support and has literally brought thousands of auto jobs from Mexico to Detroit," Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., said.
Seventy-seven Democratic congressmen have signed a letter calling for the funding to remain intact. In a second effort, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the American Automotive Policy Council and the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association have signed a joint letter that says, "New technologies require substantial upfront investments in research, design, development, testing and certification."
The funding does not go strictly to huge automobile companies. It also goes to small suppliers to help develop parts that contribute to improved fuel efficiency, the trade groups said.
Republicans have said the spending cuts are necessary to maintain funding for disaster relief.
SEC's Becker's case goes to Justice Dept.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- The Securities and Exchange Commission's inspector general is referring a possible conflict of interest case to the U.S. Justice Department, a report said.
The case involves SEC general counsel David Becker, who helped with decisions on how much victims of Bernard Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme could recover, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Becker, however, was also a beneficiary, who, along with his brothers, inherited his family's account with Madoff Investment Securities, the company that was the front for Madoff's massive fraud.
Becker and his brothers closed the account with Madoff in 2004. But he is still being sued by the court appointed trustee in the case, Irving Picard, as his family gained $1.5 million from their investments with Madoff's firm.
The case is likely to be under scrutiny on Capitol Hill. Becker and SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro are scheduled to testify Thursday at a joint hearing of the House Financial Services Committee and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
SEC Inspector General H. David Kotz is also scheduled to appear at the hearing.
Kotz's report says he discussed the issue with the Office of Government Ethics, which advised him to refer the case to the Justice Department.
Schapiro said in a statement the SEC will retake a critical vote on the matter of victim compensation in the Madoff case. She also said, "I do want to state that I've known David for many years to be a talented, highly skilled lawyer and a dedicated civil servant who served under three chairmen."
Court: Russian violated Yukos' rights
STRASBOURG, France, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- A human rights court in Strasbourg, France, said Russia violated the rights of oil giant Yukos, which was closed down in 2007 on tax evasion charges.
The European Court of Human Rights, the highest human rights court in Europe, said Russia did not give Yukos enough time to prepare a defense on tax evasion charges, but stopped short of saying Russian authorities targeted the company on political grounds.
The company was headed by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a political rival of former Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Khodorkovsky, who is serving two jail sentences for tax evasion and theft, has charged repeatedly that the government deliberately persecuted the company and him for political reasons.
But the court said, "There had been no violation of Article 14," which prohibits discrimination, RIA Novosti reported Tuesday.
The court ruled similarly last year on Khodorkovsky's individual plight, saying Russia had violated his rights, but that it was not proved the reason for doing so was political.
Not everyone is convinced the court got it right. The head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, said, "To me, it's evident the case was politically motivated. Yukos paid its tax honestly."
The company was closed in 2006 and sold the following year with many of its assets purchased by state-controlled companies.