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Dec. 26, 2012 at 7:35 PM
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Markets slide Wednesday

NEW YORK, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. stock markets slumped after the Christmas break, with uncertainty over budget talks in Washington setting the mood on Wall Street Wednesday.

By close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 24.49 points or 0.19 percent to 13,114.59. The Nasdaq lost 22.44 points or 0.74 percent to 2,990.16.

The Standard & Poor's 500 shed 6.83 points or 0.48 percent to 1,419.83.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,119 stocks advanced and 1,919 declined on a volume of 2.2 billion shares traded.

The 10-year treasury note was up 6/32 to yield 1.756 percent.

Against the yen, the dollar was higher at 85.54 from Monday's 84.81. The euro rose to $1.3228 from $1.3183.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index added 1.49 percent, 150.24 points, to 10,230.35.

Central Atlantic business remains positive

RICHMOND, Va., Dec. 26 (UPI) -- The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Va., said Central Atlantic manufacturing grew for the second consecutive month in December.

The diffuse business index for the region fell into negative territory in October but held above the break-even point of zero with a reading of five in December, showing slightly slower growth than November, when the index stood at nine.

In December, five of eight of the broad component indicators that make up the index were positive but only capacity utilization and vendor lead time posted readings that beat November's scores.

Slower growth was posted for shipments, with the index down from 11 to six and volume of orders, which fell from 11 to 10.

The index for wages remained unchanged with a reading of 10. The number-of-employees index dropped from positive three to negative three in the month.

The index uses zero as a breakeven point. Above zero indicates growth.

Madoff keeping an eye on Wall Street

NEW YORK, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Convicted Ponzi scheme operator Bernard Madoff is keeping an eye on the financial markets, a recent email indicates.

In an email posted by CNBC and dated Dec. 24, Madoff, who is serving a 150-year sentence, noted insider trading "has been present in the market forever, but rarely been prosecuted."

Madoff's remarks were made in reference to the recent crackdown on insider trading that suggests the practice is new, the Los Angeles Time reported Wednesday.

"The same can be said of front-running orders," which is a form of insider trading in which brokers take advantage of their knowledge about pending shifts in the market.

For example, a broker might learn a well-known investor has executed an order for a certain trade in the future and make adjustments in his or her own portfolio because of that information.

Madoff, who ran his own firm and was once the chairman of Nasdaq, is serving a 150-year sentence for running a decades-long Ponzi scheme that lost about $17 billion.

Gold makes slight gains

NEW YORK, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Gold and silver shifted slightly higher in New York Wednesday with investors focused on budget talks put on hold in Washington.

President Barack Obama is expected back in Washington Thursday from a vacation in an effort to avert a default budget the Congressional Budget Office predicted would drag the U.S. economy back into a recession.

The weaker dollar provided some pressure with the dollar index up 0.15 percent to 79.65 on the International Exchange.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for February delivery added 80 cents or 0.05 percent to $1,660.30 per troy ounce.

Silver for March delivery added 21 cents or 0.71 percent to $30.11 an ounce.

The euro was trading at $1.3226 from Tuesday's 1.3183. The dollar rose to 85.52 yen from Tuesday's 84.81 yen.

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