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Around the business world

Staff and Wire Reports
AP photoGeneral Motors Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner gestures during the company's annual stock holders meeting in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday.
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GM shareholders shut out: DETROIT ” They made some noise and even won a two small victories, but in the end, dissident General Motors Corp. shareholders failed to change the course of the company or alter the composition of its board.

U.S. stocks drop sharply a second straight day: NEW YORK ” Wall Street fell sharply for the second straight session as investors continued to abandon stocks due to hawkish comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The decline reverberated globally, sending most international markets lower. The Dow Jones industrial average fell below 11,000 for the first time since March.

Stock swoon under signals from new Fed chairman: WASHINGTON ” Wall Street had looked to the Federal Reserve’s new plain-speaking chairman to cut through the Greenspeak of his predecessor. But investors think they’re getting contradictory signals from Ben Bernanke, too, with the latest sending stocks in a nosedive. In India, Indian shares tumbled, with the benchmark index dropping 2.5 percent and slipping below the 10,000 mark for the first time in 3 1/2 months

Oil prices slip as jitters calm: NEW YORK ” Oil prices slipped after Iran’s top nuclear negotiator cited “positive steps” in a package of incentives offered to it by world powers to curb its nuclear program. The mood on energy markets has see-sawed from day-to-day in recent weeks with each diplomatic development between Iran, the United Nations and the United States.

The president has a plan, energy secretary says: Consumers wouldn’t suffer undue hardships in the event Iran disrupts Persian Gulf oil supplies because the Bush administration has a plan “if push were to come to shove,” a Cabinet officer said. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman told reporters that in such a scenario, the government would tap its emergency oil reserve. He said he doesn’t anticipate an oil supply disruption and said he was speaking hypothetically.

Interest rates rising in Europe: FRANKFURT, Germany ” Buoyed by rising consumer and investor confidence, the European Central Bank is likely to raise its key interest rate this week as it tries to contain inflation in the 12 nations that use the euro.

Steve Case’s pricey vacation club draws many: WASHINGTON ” A company chaired by former AOL boss Steve Case is experiencing rapid growth by offering dozens of vacation options as part of a vacation club that requires members to pony up $200,000 or more to access the club’s luxury properties in top destinations throughout North America and Europe.

Fannie Mae pleading its case: WASHINGTON ” Lawmakers heard federal regulators’ allegations of a stunning accounting fraud at mortgage giant Fannie Mae, struggling to emerge from an $11 billion scandal, fined $400 million and now forced to curb its spectacular growth.

Student scheme leads to guilty plea: NEW YORK ” A former New York University student whose Greenwich hedge fund cost investors millions of dollars pleaded guilty to bank fraud and said he would also plead guilty to wire fraud.

No more wardrobe malfunctions: WASHINGTON ” As an antidote to Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction, Congress prepares to raise indecency fines 10-fold to $325,000 for airing profane or indecent material.

Estate tax targeted again: WASHINGTON ” Republican leader Bill Frist pushes for a Senate vote to abolish the federal estate tax, while other senators work to soften but not erase it.

Doctors have increasing access to clinical information technology: NEW YORK ” The proportion of doctors with access to information technology that can be used for at least four of five clinical tasks has almost doubled in the last four years, yet many physicians have barely begun to take advantage of such tools, according to a study.

Hewlett-Packard revised profits upward: NEW YORK ” Hewlett-Packard Co., a maker of computers and printers, raised its second-quarter profit by $443 million and boosted its income forecast for the remainder of the year to reflect a tax settlement with the U.S. government.

Bank of China stock roaring: BEIJING ” Fresh from a share listing in Hong Kong that raised $9.7 billion, Bank of China said Tuesday it plans to move ahead with a $2.5 billion initial public offering in Shanghai.

IBM to triple investment in India to $6 billion in three years: NEW DELHI” IBM Corp. plans to triple its investment in India to $6 billion over the next three years to strengthen the country’s role in providing technology services for customers around the world.

Gap Inc. unveils new plan for U.S. stores: NEW YORK ” Gap Inc. said it will reorganize its stores this fall into four different sections based on merchandise categories, adding that it will update its fashions more often. Beginning in July, an in-store denim “shop” will sell skirts and jeans in a greater variety of washes and fits.


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