Stocks tumble as deadline nears
Stocks fell for a fifth day on concern that Washington lawmakers will fail to reach a budget deal before a self-imposed year-end deadline.
The five-day losing streak for the Dow Jones industrial average was the longest since July.
The Dow dropped 158.20 points to 12,938.11 points, with losses accelerating in the last 20 minutes of trading as reports circulated that President Barack Obama would not be making a new budget proposal in a meeting with congressional leaders.
The Standard & Poor 500 index fell 15.67 points to 1,402.43, its longest losing streak in three months, and the Nasdaq dropped 25.59 points to 2,960.31.
Ex-finance minister of Greece in scandal
Greece’s former finance minister is at the center of an escalating political scandal after three of his relatives purportedly were found missing from a list of Greeks with Swiss banks accounts that authorities are using to investigate possible tax evasion.
George Papaconstantinou, who was the main architect of debt-ridden Greece’s first austerity program, was expelled from his Socialist party after the allegations came to light Friday. The party said he had “handled the list in the worst possible way.”
Prosecutors had cross-checked the list originally handed over to the Finance Ministry by French authorities in 2010 — while Papaconstantinou was minister — with another copy supplied by France last week.
The prosecutors said three people related to a former minister were not on the first list. Although they did not identify the ex-minister, his party swiftly did.
UK’s Pearson invests in Nook e-reader
Pearson, the U.K. publisher and education company, is to take a 5 percent stake in Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader as technology companies seek new inroads into the potentially lucrative business of digital textbooks for schools.
Pearson PLC will pay $89.5 million cash for a 5 percent stake in Nook Media LLC, which includes the bookseller’s e-reader and tablets, its digital bookstore and its 674 stores serving U.S. colleges. Barnes & Noble will hold 78.2 percent of the business and Microsoft will have about 16.8 percent, the company said Friday.
Oil prices fall
The price of oil fell slightly Friday, as the stock market drifted lower and efforts continued in Washington to strike a budget deal before the year-end deadline.
In afternoon trading, U.S. benchmark crude was down 21 cents to $90.66 a barrel.
Phil Flynn, of the Price Futures Group, said that a government report Friday showed U.S. oil production hit its highest point since March 1993, at nearly 7 million barrels per day.
Vindicator wire services