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July 11, 2012 at 2:15 PM
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U.S. stocks lower

U.S. stocks were lower Wednesday as investors waited for the minutes of the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting.

In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 34.10 or 0.28 percent to 12,619.02. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 3.34, or 0.25 percent, at 1,338.13. The Nasdaq composite index was down 16.01 points or 0.55 percent to 2,886.32.

Investors were hopeful the Federal Reserve minutes would show signs of policy easing.

The 10-year U.S. treasury note was up 2/32 to yield 1.501 percent.

The euro fell to $1.2264 from Tuesday's $1.2249. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 79.63 yen from Tuesday's 79.43.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index gave up 0.08 percent, 6.73 points, to 8,851.00. In London, the FTSE 100 was down .41, or 0.01 percent, to 5,664.48.


U.S. trade deficit eases by 3.8 percent

WASHINGTON, July 11 (UPI) -- Exports of U.S. goods and services rose 0.2 percent in May to $183.1 billion, easing the trade gap by 3.8 percent, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

"Total May exports of $183.1 billion and imports of $231.8 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $48.7 billion, down from $50.6 billion in April," the monthly report by the Commerce Department's Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis said.

Record exports were reported in total services, at $52.4 billion, as well as in the foods, feeds and beverages category, which came in at $11.8 billion.

Exports of U.S. goods and services through the first five months of 2012 were up 5.7 percent, or $48.6 billion, from the same period of 2011 to reach $908.7 billion.

"U.S. exports posted their second-highest level on record in May despite some tough economic conditions abroad, confirming the progress we are making on the path to achieving the president's goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014," Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank said in a statement.

The Wall Street Journal said the easing in the trade gap was in line with Wall Street expectations.

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PFGBest files for bankruptcy

CHICAGO, July 11 (UPI) -- Peregrine Financial Group has filed for bankruptcy as U.S. regulators investigate the alleged disappearance of $215 million from the futures trading firm.

The firm, also known as PFGBest, filed Tuesday evening in Chicago to liquidate after the Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed a lawsuit in federal court, accusing Peregrine Financial and founder, Russell Wasendorf Sr., of fraud, customer-funds violations and making false statements.

The accounts of brokerage and retail customers were frozen.

Wassendorf, 64, attempted suicide Monday in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Police said they found him in his car outside the company's headquarters with a hose running from the car's tailpipe. Wassendorf's condition as of Tuesday was unavailable, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Journal said Wassendorf's son, Russell Wasendorf Jr., who serves as the company's president, told employees Monday his father had left note alluding to a crime,

Peregrine listed estimated assets of $500 million and $1 billion, and liabilities of $100 million and $500 million, the bankruptcy court filing said.

Many of PFGBest's clients are farmers and other individual investors who place trades through the firm's brokerage on commodities and currency markets, the Journal said.


Chevy offers money-back guarantee

DETROIT, July 11 (UPI) -- General Motors is upping the incentives to get cars off U.S. dealership lots, including a money-back guarantee on Chevrolets, auto analysts say.

GM has announced no-haggle pricing for its 2012 Chevys at participating dealers and is giving customers up to two months to return most models for a a cash refund, the automaker announced Tuesday.

GM says it's not reacting to increased inventory or worries about the economy. Chris Perry, Chevrolet vice president for marketing, said the company is just being creative, the Detroit Free Press reported.

"I think we're doing a pretty good job of managing our production to the volume and the demand. Our inventories are good. We don't need to put a lot of dollars against it," Perry was quoted as saying.

Edmunds.com senior analyst Jessica Caldwell said the promotions are a good way to get rid of old model-year vehicles, The Detroit News reported.

The "Chevy Confidence" program, publicly introduced in a 60-second ad during Tuesday's Major League Baseball All-Star Game, is aimed at new customers, the News said.

"Our research shows consumers are reassured of the quality of a product and like the peace of mind that comes with knowing they have the option of being able to return their vehicle," Perry said.

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