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Dec. 4, 2012 at 6:21 PM
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Markets flat at the close

NEW YORK, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes slid Tuesday with investors focused on budget talks in Washington.

Congressional Republicans on Monday submitted a budget plan to the White House that would include a rejection of billions of dollars in stimulus spending President Obama has proposed.

Lawmakers have until the end of December to come up with a compromise. Many analysts are saying there will be plenty of political rhetoric until a deal is reached -- rhetoric that is likely to have a direct influence on stock markets.

If a compromise is not signed into law by Dec. 31, tax cuts enacted during the administration of George W. Bush will expire along which several instituted in the last four years, and draconian spending cuts will kick in, especially for defense spending. This has been described as a "fiscal cliff" that could send the economy into a second recession.

By close of trading Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 13.82 points or 0.11 percent to 12,951.78.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq index shed 5.51 points or 0.18 percent to 2,996.69. The Standard and Poor's 500 dropped 2.41 points or 0.17 percent to 1,407.05.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,471 stocks advanced and 1,538 declined on a volume of 3.2 billion shares traded.

The 10-year treasury note rose 5/32 to yield 1.61 percent.

The euro rose to $1.3093 from Monday's $1.3053. The dollar fell to 81.96 yen from 82.25 yen.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index gave up 0.27 percent, 25.72 points, to 9,432.46.

Britain's FTSE 100 index lost 0.04 percent, 2.20 points, to 5,869.04.

Federal mediator heads to LA port strike

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said a federal mediator would try to resolve issues prolonging an economy-paralyzing strike by port clerical workers.

"I'm hopeful that the mediator will be here today. We've got to get a deal and get a deal as soon as possible," Villaraigosa said Tuesday at a news conference.

About 800 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 have been on strike since Nov. 27, shutting down 10 of 14 cargo terminals at the ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif.

The strike has effectively halted cargo container unloading, as 10,000 members of the ILWU have refused to cross picket lines.

All told, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday, 600,000 jobs are affected by the strike.

The union members contend port management has been outsourcing jobs, moving clerical work to other areas where labor is cheaper.

Employers, however, say they have offered the union a generous compensation package and full job security.

The union says employers are downsizing union jobs through attrition.

Germany balks on bank regulator

BRUSSELS, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble said Tuesday that a single bank regulator for the eurozone would put European monetary policies at risk.

"In the long run, you will damage the independence of the central bank," Schauble said in Brussels in debate over giving the European Central Bank regulatory oversight over 6,000 eurozone banks.

Schauble also said one regulator for that many banks would be a Herculean task. "Nobody believes that any European institution will be capable to supervise 6,000 banks in Europe," Schauble said.

He also said it would be "very difficult," to persuade the German Parliament to go along with the plan, especially if it means giving up regulatory oversight for Germany's domestic savings banks, The New York Times reported.

Spain and France, however, support the initiative that was agreed to by eurozone leaders in June.

"If we are not able to deliver in the dates we have committed, this will not be neutral in terms of the stability of the markets," said Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos.

French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said the new regulator was "essential to solve the euro crisis."

While Spain and France want to stay on schedule, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reason to slow down creation of a new regulator, as it would require financial aid with Germany, as the eurozone's largest economy, paying the largest share, the Times said.

Germany has been shelling out the lion's share of the eurozone bailout funds that have gone to Greece, Portugal and Ireland, and asking Berlin to pay more could be detrimental to Merkel's 2013 re-election campaign.

Wis. families suing after pipeline spill

WEST BEND, Wis., Dec. 4 (UPI) -- A lawsuit filed by 150 Wisconsin families alleges the plaintiffs were sickened after 55,000 gallons of gasoline spilled from a pipeline into a farm pasture.

The families, in a lawsuit filed Monday in Washington County Circuit Court, contend the July 17 spill in the Town of Jackson caused property, health and emotional damage, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

In addition to monetary compensation, the families want West Shore Pipe Line Co. of Arlington Heights, Ill., and Buckeye Partners LP of Breinigsville, Pa., and Houston, to set up a medical monitoring fund to pay for cancer screening for area residents.

A lawyer for Buckeye Partners said the firm would have no comment on the case.

Family members say they have suffered nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other ill health effects.

Tests found contaminants in 27 residential drinking water wells and two non-residential wells since the 10-inch-diameter pipeline leaked.

State health officials have advised people living in the area to use bottled water or water from a known safe source for drinking, cooking and making ice.

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