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August 12, 2013 01:27 PM

Monday Afternoon Business Brief

Stocks had opened lower at the start of the week after logging their biggest weekly loss in almost two months. By late morning the losses had been pared but stocks remained marginally lower. Mining companies and news of several corporate deals were in focus on an otherwise quiet day in the stock market.

  • The government has reported a $97.6 billion deficit for July but remains on track to post its lowest annual budget gap in five years. The government says July's figure raises the deficit so far for the 2013 budget year to $607.4 billion. That's 37.6 percent below the $973.8 billion deficit for the first 10 months of the 2012 budget year. Steady economic growth, higher taxes, lower government spending and increased dividends from mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have helped shrink the deficit.
  • Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto is making the most daring gamble yet of his 8-month-old presidency with a proposal to lift a decades-old ban on private companies investing the state-run oil industry. The reform outlined today proposes risk- and profit-sharing with private companies. Both currently are prohibited by the constitution.
  • Eighteen contemporary artworks have been transferred to a hedge fund victimized in a massive $400 million fraud scheme. The works by such boldface artists as Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko and Damien Hirst had belonged to Marc Dreier, a once-prominent Manhattan lawyer whom prosecutors called "the Houdini of impersonation and false documents." Dreier is serving 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to money laundering and other charges in 2009. The scheme involved the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars in fake promissory notes to hedge funds.
  • BlackBerry's board of directors has formed a special committee to explore "strategic alternatives" with the hope of enhancing the company's value and boosting its stock. The company said its options could also include joint ventures, partnerships, or other moves. The Canadian company's stock jumped 5.2 percent in midday trading.
  • Business
  • Economy/Stocks

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