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December 22, 2011 06:06 PM

Thursday Evening Business Brief

Stocks posted modest gains today. The Dow was up 62 points, or 0.5 percent, to 12,170. The S&P added 10, while the Nasdaq surged 21 points.

  • GOP aides say House Republican leaders have agreed to a two-month extension of Social Security payroll tax cuts and federal unemployment benefits. That would represent a retreat by House republicans. At issue is whether 160 million workers are hit by a 2 percentage point increase in the payroll tax Jan. 1.
  • Wal-Mart and health officials are waiting for tests on powdered infant formula that was removed from more than 3,000 stores nationwide after a Missouri newborn who consumed it apparently died from a rare infection. The source of the bacteria that caused the infection has not been determined, but it
    occurs naturally in the environment and in plants such as wheat and rice. 
  • Netflix CEO Reed Hastings will pay a $1.5 million penalty for the management blunders that alienated the video subscription service's customers and hammered its stock. A new filing indicates the punishment will be delivered with a 50 percent reduction in his stock option awards next year.
  • Oil prices have risen for a fourth straight day. The price of benchmark crude rose 86 cents to finish at $99.53 per barrel in New York.

    (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

    AP-NY-12-22-11 1822EST
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