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Dec. 12, 2012 at 7:11 PM
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Market gains slide at close

NEW YORK, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Stock gains faded Wednesday after the U.S. Federal Reserve tweaked its monetary policy with a closely watched announcement.

The Fed specified 6.5 percent unemployment as the point at which it would consider changing its overnight bank-to-bank lending rate, which has been at zero to 0.25 percent since the recession.

Unemployment is currently at 7.7 percent.

The Fed kept its policy targets intact, holding to its historically low lending rate and announcing it would purchase additional mortgage-backed securities at the initial pace of $45 billion per month after its current asset rollover program is complete at the end of the year. It also said it would resume its rollover practice at auction in January.

By close of trading, despite the extended stimulus measures, the Dow Jones industrial average gave up 2.99 points or 0.02 percent to 13,245.45.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq index shed 8.49 points or 0.28 percent to 3,013.81. The Standard and Poor's 500 added 0.64 points or 0.04 percent to 1,428.48.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,481 stocks advanced and 1,580 declined on a volume of 3.6 billion shares traded.

The 10-year treasury note fell 13/32 to yield 1.704 percent.

The euro rose to $1.3064 from Tuesday's $1.3006. The dollar rose to 83.20 yen from 82.51 yen.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.59 percent, 56.14 points, to 9,581.46.

Britain's FTSE 100 index added 0.35 percent, 20.88 points, to 5,945.85.

Fed specifies terms of lending rate

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. Federal Reserve said Wednesday it would hold its key interest rate in place until the national unemployment rate dropped to 6.5 percent.

The Fed said it would consider other economic data in making its decision. The overnight bank-to-bank lending rate has been set at zero to 0.25 percent since the recession, which officially ended in June 2009.

"If we could wave a magic wand and get unemployment down to 5 percent tomorrow, obviously we would do that. But there are constraints in terms of the dynamics of the economy, in terms of the power of these tools and in terms that we do need to take into account other costs and risks that might be associated with a large expansion of our balance sheet," said Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke at a news conference. The New York Times reported.

The Fed's gambit, while leaving the rock-bottom rate unchanged, was to change its terminology and disclose what has always in the past been seen as a trade secret: An actual benchmark that businesses and investors can see so they can plan their decisions accordingly.

"To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the (Open Market) Committee expects that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends and the economic recovery strengthens," the central bank said in a statement.

"In particular, the Committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that this exceptionally low range for the federal funds rate will be appropriate at least as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6-1/2 percent."

On balance, the Fed said inflation is expected to remain "no more than a half percentage point above the Committee's 2 percent longer-run goal, and longer-term inflation expectations continue to be well anchored."

The Fed said it would keep its asset buying purchase at the same pace, at $85 billion per month, and resume its operation twist at auction in January.

Operation twist uses the proceeds from maturing short-term securities to buy long-term securities.

After scandal, severance is worth $17.5M

LONDON, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- The severance package for former News Corp. Chief Executive Officer Rebekah Brooks was worth $17.5 million, a public filing revealed.

Brooks left News Corp. in July 2011 in the wake of the phone hacking scandal that erupted when it was learned reporters hacked voice mail messages of an abducted schoolgirl.

It was found out later that the girl, who was British, had been murdered.

At the time the phone hacking occurred Brooks was the editor of News of the World, the tabloid that was shut down due to the scandal. At the time the phone hacking was discovered, she was the CEO of all of News Corp.'s British publications.

The Wall Street Journal reported that a source confirmed that the unnamed company director listed as having received $17.5 million "for loss of office," was Brooks.

The severance package includes compensation for all legal fees and, thus, may grow further. Brooks has been charged with conspiracy to intercept communications, conspiracy to pervert justice and conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.

"I did not authorize, nor was I aware of, phone hacking under my editorship," Brooks has said.

She has denied the first two charges, but not responded to the third in public, the Journal said.

Bank execs part of tax dodge probe

FRANKFURT, Germany, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Germany's Deutsche Bank said Wednesday a co-chief executive officer and its chief financial officer were under investigation as part of a tax dodge case.

Five people have been arrested out of about 25 involved in the alleged conspiracy to avoid paying a tax on sales of carbon trading certificates, The New York Times reported.

The bank executives caught up in the case, co-Chief Executive Officer Jurgen Fitschen and Chief Financial Officer Stefan Krause, were not among those arrested, the Times said.

Private homes and bank offices were raided by authorities Wednesday. The raid included 500 officers searching the Deutsche Bank office in Frankfurt, Germany.

The carbon trading certificates are part of an incentive program to lower carbon emissions. Companies are assigned a set figure for carbon emissions and, if they can stay under their limit, are awarded their unused portion to sell to other companies that may be close to or over their limits.

The program is designed to offer an incentive to companies for staying under their emissions limit.

The bank said it was cooperating with the investigation, but also said it had changed its tax reporting process according to updated rules.

"Unlike the Public Prosecutor's Office, Deutsche Bank is of the opinion that this correction took place in due time," the bank said in a statement.

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