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November 09, 2011 01:27 PM

Wednesday Afternoon Business Brief

The Dow Jones industrial average has been down more than 200 points or nearly 2 percent after Italy's interest rates soared.
Higher borrowing costs are a sign that Europe's debt crisis had spilled into the third-largest economy in the euro bloc.
  • President Barack Obama has signed an executive order directing government agencies to cut back spending on items ranging from travel to cell phones, and even souvenirs like pens and coffee mugs. His goal is for the executive branch to reduce spending by 20 percent in areas covered by the executive order. The administrative step does not require action by Congress.
  • Members of a special deficit-cutting panel are getting renewed encouragement from their colleagues even as they remain far apart on taxes and cuts to so-called entitlement programs like Medicare. Republicans Monday offered a combination of new revenues and spending cuts that would cut the deficit by about $1.5 trillion over the coming decade. Even as they refused to acknowledge the specifics of the GOP offer, Democrats were quick to reject it.
  • A Senate panel has cleared legislation overhauling federal highway programs, prompting lawmakers to talk of a looming bipartisan consensus that would end years of stalemate on repairing and expanding an aging transportation network. Despite last week's Senate defeat of President Barack Obama's $50 billion infrastructure jobs bill, momentum is building for congressional passage of a long-term transportation plan to repair crumbling roads and bridges, move people and freight more efficiently, and boost employment.
  • Federal prosecutors in New York say seven people have been charged in a $14 million scheme to manipulate Internet ads for profit. Authorities say an estimated 4 million computers in more than 100 countries were affected. The indictment says the total includes 500,000 computers in the US, with some belonging to government agencies, educational institutions and nonprofits.

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