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Monday Evening Business Brief

January 30, 2012, 6:15 PM

Monday Evening Business Brief
Stocks closed slightly lower, while yields for U.S. government debt fell to the lowest level so far this year. The Dow was down seven points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 12,654. The S&P 500 lost three points, while the Nasdaq was down 5 points.
  • All European Union countries, except Britain and the Czech Republic, have now agreed to sign a new treaty designed to stop overspending in the eurozone and put an end to the bloc's crippling debt crisis. The accord includes strict debt brakes and makes it more difficult for deficit violators to escape sanctions.
  • A Federal Reserve survey finds that in the U.S. banks are seeing more small businesses apply for loans. The percentage of banks reporting increased loan demand from companies with annual sales of less than $50 million rose to the highest level since 2005.
  • The Justice Department says two Japanese auto suppliers have agreed to pay more than half a billion dollars in criminal fines for a price-fixing conspiracy in the sale of parts to U.S. automakers. Yazaki Corp. agreed to pay a $470 million fine, the second-largest criminal fine obtained for an antitrust violation. The second company, DENSO Corp., agreed to pay $78 million.
  • Most commodity prices fell as signs of slower economic growth emerged in Europe. Investors worried about future global demand for oil, copper and wheat if Europe slows further or falls back into recession. Benchmark oil settled at $98.78 a barrel, a decline of 78 cents.

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