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Nov. 26, 2012 at 2:13 PM
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Markets slip Monday

NEW YORK, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. stocks stumbled Monday after a holiday week with markets mixed in Asia and lower in Europe.

After Black Friday's strong gains, investors focused on the delayed international help for Greece and worries that lawmakers in Washington would not be able to intervene in time to stop the "fiscal cliff."

The fiscal cliff is a series of federal spending cuts and tax increases totaling half a trillion dollars that, absent a bipartisan agreement, become law Jan. 1.

In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 70.23 points or 0.54 percent to 12,939.45.

The Nasdaq added a marginal 0.59 points or 2.02 percent to 2,967.44 and the Standard & Poor's 500 lost 6.44 points or 0.46 percent to 1,402.71.

The 10-year treasury note rose 9/32 to yield 1.664 percent.

On currency markets, the euro fell to $1.296 from Friday's $1.2975. The dollar fell to 82.17 yen from Friday's 82.40 yen.

Japan's Nikkei rose 1.8 percent, 166.42 points, to 9,388.94 while the Hong Kong Hang Seng index was up 0.55 percent to 21,861.81, a gain of 118.61 points.

In London, the FTSE 100 index shed 0.56 percent, 32.42, to 5,786.72.

The DAX 30 in Germany lost 0.23 percent, 17.10, to 7,292.03.

UBS given record fine on $2.3B trader loss

LONDON, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- British banking regulators Monday fined Swiss bank UBS $47.5 million for slack supervision that permitted a rogue trader to lose $2.3 billion.

The fine is a record for the Financial Services Authority, The New York Times reported Monday.

The fine follows last week's conviction and sentencing of trader Kweku Adoboli, 32, who received a seven-year jail sentence for two counts of fraud. The trader had made unauthorized market bets that ended up losing $2.3 billion.

"UBS' systems and controls were seriously defective," Tracey McDermott, Financial Services Authority's director of enforcement and financial crime, said in a statement.

The bank said it would not contest the regulator's decision and would cooperate with Swiss regulators, who cannot impose a fine, but who have mandated changes, including restricting UBS traders from branching into new trading areas without asking for permission first.

UBS said it had disciplined employees in the wake of the losses and was "'pleased that this chapter has been concluded."

Regulators, however, are still considering imposing higher capital mandates for UBS, which would cushion the bank against unexpected losses.

Buffett: Raise tax cutoff point to $500K

OMAHA, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Warren Buffett called Monday for the cutoff point in U.S. President Barack Obama's proposal to end the Bush-era tax cuts to increase to $500,000 from $250,000.

"I support President Obama's proposal to eliminate the Bush tax cuts for high-income taxpayers," the business magnate, investor and philanthropist wrote in an op-ed piece published in The New York Times Monday. "However, I prefer a cutoff point somewhat above $250,000 -- maybe $500,000 or so."

He also called on Congress, "right now, to enact a minimum tax on high incomes.

"I would suggest 30 percent of taxable income between $1 million and $10 million, and 35 percent on amounts above that," he wrote.

"A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultra-rich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny fraction of ours. Only a minimum tax on very high incomes will prevent the stated tax rate from being eviscerated by these warriors for the wealthy.

"Above all, we should not postpone these changes in the name of 'reforming' the tax code. We can't let those who want to protect the privileged get away with insisting that we do nothing until we can do everything."

He said no wealthy person is going to stop investing if tax rates rise, despite conservative arguments they will.

He said he was managing funds for investors from 1956 to 1969, when the top marginal tax rate on dividends was a lofty 70 percent, compared with the current 35 percent, and the tax rate on capital gains was 27.5 percent, compared with today's maximum 15 percent.

"Never did anyone mention taxes as a reason to forgo an investment opportunity that I offered," he said in the article.

"Under those burdensome rates, moreover, both employment and the gross domestic product ... increased at a rapid clip. The middle class and the rich alike gained ground.

"So let's forget about the rich and ultra-rich going on strike and stuffing their ample funds under their mattresses if -- gasp -- capital gains rates and ordinary income rates are increased. The ultra-rich, including me, will forever pursue investment opportunities."

Buffett said more than a quarter of the people with the 400 highest U.S. incomes "paid less than 15 percent of their take in combined federal income and payroll taxes," he said, citing 2009 figures, the most recent year reported in a study. "Half of this crew paid less than 20 percent. And -- brace yourself -- a few actually paid nothing."

These people earned an average $202 million in 2009 -- "which works out to a 'wage' of $97,000 per hour, based on a 40-hour workweek," Buffett said. "I'm assuming they're paid during lunch hours," he added in parentheses.

Canadian net farm revenue soars in 2011

OTTAWA, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Net income for Canadian farmers shot up 53.1 percent to $5.7 billion in 2011 on the heels of a 19 percent gain in 2010, Statistics Canada reported Monday.

"Farm cash receipts, which include market receipts from crop and livestock sales as well as program payments, rose 11.9 percent to $49.8 billion in 2011," the agency said. "This was the first increase since 2008."

Expenses after rebates rose 8.4 percent in 2011 to $38.3 billion, the second-largest percentage increase since 1981. The report said the bulk of the increases were due to higher prices for fertilizer, feed and machinery fuel.

Among crop revenues, canola receipts increased 37.3 percent in 2011 on the strength of a 27.3 percent gain in prices.

Among livestock receipts, hog revenue increased 15.5 percent to $3.9 billion on the strength of a 14.7 percent price increase and cattle prices rose 19.5 percent in 2011.

By province, Newfoundland/Labrador, New Brunswick and Manitoba saw farm revenue declines.

Large increases were seen in Saskatchewan, which was up $2.1 billion, Alberta revenues rose by $567 million and Ontario recorded $470 million in additional sales over 2010, StatsCan said.

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