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May 8, 2012 at 2:04 PM
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U.S. markets tumble

NEW YORK, May 8 (UPI) -- U.S. stocks could not hold onto Monday's attempted comeback, tumbling on Wall Street, dragged down by a nearly global rout.

Stocks fell Monday in response to government overturns in France and Greece during the weekend, with voters turning out advocates of strong austerity budget strategies.

Early falls were checked on Wall Street in Monday afternoon trading. On Tuesday, that small comeback gave up the ghost.

Stocks were mixed in Asia, but hard hit in most of Europe. The CAC 40 index in France was down 2.78 percent. In Italy, the FTSE MIB index fell 2.37 percent. The DAX index in Germany lost 1.9 percent.

On Wall Street in early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average shed 143.61 points or 1.1 percent to 12,864.92. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index lost 34.67 points or 1.17 percent, to 2,923.09. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gave up 14.99 points, or 1.09 percent, to 1,354.59.

The 10-year benchmark treasury note rose 12/32 to yield 1.838 percent.

The euro fell to $1.3022 from Monday's $1.3051. Against the yen, the dollar fell to 79.82 yen from 79.89 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index gained 0.69 percent, 62.51, to 9,181.65.

In London, the FTSE 100 index lost 1.78 percent, 100.51, to 5,554.55.

NFIB: Optimism up, but still thin

WASHINGTON, May 8 (UPI) -- Optimism ticked higher among small U.S. businesses in April after a dip in March, a national trade group said Tuesday.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses said their monthly Index of Small Business Optimism gained 2 points in April, the highest reading since December 2007.

The index reached 94.5 in April, although the milestone is a false summit. April's mark "only returns the index to its February 2011 level, indicating that in a year, the net gain has been zero," the NFIB said.

"While the index remains historically weak, there was good news in the details of April's report," said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg.

"Job creation plans, job openings and capital spending plans all increased. Hopefully, this performance will hold in the coming months," Dunkelberg said.

Will it hold? "(The) gross domestic product and employment growth news has not been good," he said. "The euro debt crisis continues to make news and Congress leaves us on an identical path: huge deficits, a terrifying amount of liquidity at the Fed, and no indication that anything positive will be done."

The index is based on surveys with 1,817 NFIB members, the trade group said.

Second-hand SUVs find a niche

DETROIT, May 8 (UPI) -- The second hand market for sport utility vehicles in the United States is holding up, despite high prices at the pump, industry analysts say.

Retail prices for 5-year-old SUVs have risen 23 percent in the past year, said Edmunds.com, an online information hub for the industry.

That's well above the average 11 percent rise in the prices of 5-year-old vehicles, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Kelley Blue Book, which also monitors used cars, said large SUVs now make up 4.5 percent of the used car market, a jump from 3.8 percent in 2008.

Part of the recovery in the used SUV market defines a cycle of supply and demand.

In 2008, when gas prices topped $4 per gallon, large vehicles were shunned. The following year, the federal government began a "cash-for-clunkers" program that took hundreds of thousands of gas-guzzlers out of circulation.

In addition, during the recent economic downturn, new car sales slumped overall. That means, there are fewer used SUVs in the two- to three-year-old range than would normally be on the market.

With supplies depleted by circumstance, prices have risen.

Now there is anecdotal evidence that defines the market as playing into the needs of an evolving customer base.

For example, many owners of SUVs are turning them in, tired of paying high gas prices.

Many prior-SUV owners are thrilled at the savings they find at the gas pump, as they replaced their guzzlers with new, fuel efficient models.

In return, many families with growing children are in need of larger cars. Many of them are thrilled to eliminate monthly car payments by buying a used car.

"I'm not in the school of thought that says I should go get a newer, smaller, fuel-efficient car, where I'm saving pennies per gallon but I'm carrying a $450-a-month car payment," said Skip Geniapp, who has a wife and four children to tote around.

"The price of gas doesn't affect me that much if I don't have a car payment," he said.

Aviva CEO resigns after shareholder vote

LONDON, May 8 (UPI) -- The chief executive officer of British insurance firm Aviva said he would resign Tuesday, five days after shareholders rejected the firm's remuneration report.

CEO Andrew Moss turned down a raise offered to him by the board, but shareholders still voted against the report at Thursday's shareholder meeting, The New York Times reported.

In a statement, the company said Moss "felt it was in the best interest of the company that he step aside to make way for new leadership."

Aviva's share price has fallen 60 percent in the five years Moss led the company. Part of the company's troubles came from bad timing, having gone through rapid growth in the struggling economies of Europe just before the downturn hit, the Times reported.

Aviva said it could take months to replace Moss, but Chairman designate John McFarlane would assume CEO duties on an interim basis.

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