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Jan. 10, 2013 at 7:21 PM
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U.S. stocks post gains

NEW YORK, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. markets rose modestly, posting the fourth gain out of the past seven sessions.

Markets have taken a decidedly upbeat tact since the tax law signed into law Jan. 2 put an end to fears of an economy rolling off a so-called fiscal cliff.

Prior to the new year, markets fell in five consecutive sessions to close out 2012.

By close of trading on Wall Street Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average added 80.71 points, or 0.6 percent, to 13,471.22. The Nasdaq composite gained 15.95 points, or 0.51 percent, to 3,121.76. The Standard and Poor's 500 added 11.10 points, or 0.76 percent, to 1,472.12.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,964 stocks advanced and 1,042 declined on a volume of 4 billion shares traded.

The 10-year treasury note fell 11/32 to yield 1.902 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro rose to $1.3272 from Wednesday's $1.3065. The dollar was higher at 88.90 yen from 87.88 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index added 0.7 percent or 74.04 points to 10,652.64.

In London, the FTSE 100 index added 0.05 percent, 2.86 points, to 6,101.51.

Letter challenges Walmart on bribery case

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Top Walmart executives may have contradicted themselves concerning when they became aware of bribery allegations in Mexico, leading House Democrats said.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., ranking members, respectively, of the House Committee on Oversight, and the Committee on Energy and Commerce, said in a letter that they had emails which suggest company executives knew about allegations of bribery Mexico in November 2005, implying they knew of the bribery, but did nothing to stop it.

"It would be a serious matter if the chief executive officer of one of our nation's largest companies failed to address allegations of a bribery scheme," the letter from the representatives says.

The letter says the congressmen have an email from former Walmart general council for international affairs Maritza Munich that outlined the allegations for Walmart executives in November 2005, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

One of the recipients of the letter was Mike Duke, who was then the head of the retailer's international division and who is now the company's CEO, the Journal said.

The congressmen also said Walmart was not cooperating with an investigation looking into the bribery case that involves paying off Mexican officials to pave the way for a Walmart store to be built in Teotihuacan, Mexico, near the ruins of ancient pyramids.

Company spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said in a statement Walmart was giving Congress "whatever appropriate information we can to help them." Walmart also said that comments executives made have been misinterpreted.

Comments made in December referred to what company executives knew before the store opened, which would be a time frame before 2004, the company said.

2012 ended with spate of CEO exits

CHICAGO, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- More than 100 U.S. companies experienced changes at the top in December, pushing the final three-month total of CEO changes for 2012 to 323, a firm said.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said 103 chief executive officers were replaced in December, 8 percent fewer than the 112 who left in November and 4.6 percent fewer than the 108 departures in October.

The three-month total, however, was 26 percent higher than the final three months of 2011, when 256 CEOs were replaced.

In 2012, there were 1,213 CEO departures, a 3 percent increase over the 1,178 top management departures in 2011.

"The increased pace of CEO turnover in the final months of 2012 could be indicative of a turning point in the recovery. We may see heavy turnover continue into 2013 as the economy continues to improve and companies shake up management to reflect a change in strategy from one centered around maintaining stability to one focused on growth and expansion," said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago outplacement consultancy.

For the year, healthcare CEOs had the highest number of departures with 230. Second most CEO exits were in government and non-profit companies, which saw 179 departures. Third on the list was computer firms with 127 departures.

The most common reason given for a CEO departure was resignation, which accounted for 360 departures. Retirement claimed 267 others, while 200 stepped into a new position, most often as a board member or chairman of the board.

Another 138 CEOs found work in other companies, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said.

American Express to ax 5,400 jobs

NEW YORK, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. financial giant American Express Co. said Thursday it would cut 5,400 jobs in an effort to reduce costs.

The move would bring the firm's total payroll down by 8.5 percent, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The company broke the news in its fourth-quarter corporate report in which it said it had taken a $400 million charge for the restructuring.

The company also said it earned a profit of 56 cents per share or $637 million in the fourth quarter. Profits would have reached $1.09 per share or $1.2 billion if not for the restructuring charge and other one-time expenses, the Journal said.

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