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Monday Afternoon Business Brief

April 23, 2012, 2:10 PM

Monday Afternoon Business Brief

Mounting debt in Europe has stocks sinking in New York. Reports out today show that European government debt continues to pile up despite often painful budget cuts. The Dow fell early and remains about 100 points down for the day. The broader indexes are also lower.

  • Wal-Mart shares are down nearly 5 percent today. The plunge follows a news report alleging executives at the company's Mexican subsidiary carried out a bribery scheme in order to build stores across Mexico, then tried to hush it up.
  • A bad economy and higher energy prices have worsened the outlook for Social Security. The trustees who oversee the program say its trust funds will now run dry in 2033, three years earlier than previously estimated. They say Medicare's finances have stabilized but the program's hospital insurance fund is still projected to run out of money in 2024. 
  • MetLife has agreed to pay nearly $500 million in a 20-state settlement over allegations it didn't pay life insurance benefits to some of its policyholders. MetLife is the largest life insurer in the United States.  The company says it's working with regulators to ensure all of its policyholders are paid. 
  • The Senate is debating a Republican effort to overturn regulations that make it easier and quicker for unions to get representation elections. Business groups claim the new rules allow unions to ambush companies. Unions call them a modest fix to limit corporate stalling tactics. The GOP is given little chance of succeeding when the Senate votes on a resolution of disapproval later today.

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