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February 25, 2013 01:29 PM

Monday Afternoon Business Brief

  • An early Wall Street rally has gone south following signs that Italy could be headed for political gridlock. Early gains turned to losses as polls showed that the Italian elections appear to be heading toward gridlock, with center-left forces leading in the lower house of Parliament and the center-right gaining the upper hand in the Senate. Analysts say Italy's elections have implications for the credit markets.
  • The U.S. government has started to sell the rest of its stake in General Motors. The Treasury Department says in a report to Congress that it sold $156.4 million worth of GM's common stock in January. It says details on the average share price will be revealed later. The report says the government has recovered about $29 billion of its $49.5 billion bailout of GM, leaving it just over $20 billion in the hole.
  • Prices at the gas pump finally leveled off over the weekend, breaking a month-long string of daily increases. The national average for gas is now $3.78 a gallon, down a fraction from Friday, according to AAA, the Oil Price Information Service, and Wright Express. The price is still up about 44 cents from a month ago. Oil prices dropped 3 percent last week.
  • Federal safety regulators are deciding whether to investigate a complaint that the steering can fail on the Toyota Prius. Government documents say an automotive laboratory in Virginia asked for the investigation after evaluating a client's car and concluding that the steering column linkage wasn't assembled correctly. An investigation could affect about 561,000 of the gas-electric hybrids from the 2004 through 2009 model years.
  • Swedish furnishings giant Ikea says it is withdrawing meatballs from stores in 21 European countries amid concerns that they could contain horse meat. Today's move comes after authorities in the Czech Republic said they had detected horse DNA in tests of frozen meatballs labeled as beef and pork. Ikea says its stores outside Europe are not affected.

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