Chinese Dissident Monitoring Business Is Booming In China - Huffington Post Chinese Dissident Monitoring Business Is Booming In China - Huffington Post

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Chinese Dissident Monitoring Business Is Booming In China - Huffington Post

Chinese Dissident Monitoring Business Is Booming In China - Huffington Post

BEIJING — Every workday at 7:20 a.m., colleagues pick up Yao Lifa from his second-floor apartment and drive him to the elementary school where he taught for years.

This is no car pool. Yao is a prisoner, part of a China boom in outsourced police control.

By day, Yao is kept in a room, not allowed to work and watched by fit, young gym teachers and other school staff. At dinner time or later, he is sent back to the apartment that he shares with his wife and 3-year-old daughter. A surveillance camera monitors the building entrance, while police sit in a hut outside.

"At school, if I have to go to the bathroom, someone escorts me. Most of the time, I'm not allowed to speak with others or answer the phone," Yao said in a recent late-night Internet phone interview from his home in Qianjiang city. "When they bring me home, they sign me over to the next shift."

Like the blind activist Chen Guangcheng until his escape from house arrest last month, Yao belongs to an untold number of Chinese activists kept under tight control by authorities, even though in many cases they have broken no law.

Co-workers, neighbors, government office workers, unemployed young toughs and gang members are being used to monitor perceived troublemakers, according to rights groups and people under surveillance.

Yao has never faced criminal charges. His misdeed is decades of campaigning for democratic elections.

"They won't let me teach. They're afraid of course that I'll start talking about democracy to the students," said Yao, a 54-year-old former school administrator and science lab instructor with wavy black hair and possessed of a passionate, fiery manner.

While China has long been a police state, controls on these non-offenders mark a new expansion of police resources at a time the authoritarian leadership is consumed with keeping its hold over a fast-changing society.

"Social activists that no one has ever heard of have 10 people watching them," said Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher with Human Rights Watch. "The task is to identify and nip in the bud any destabilizing factors for the regime."

Mostly unknown outside their communities, the activists are a growing portion of what's called the "targeted population" – a group that also includes criminal suspects and anyone deemed a threat. They are singled out for overwhelming surveillance and by one rights group's count amount to an estimated one in every 1,000 Chinese – or well over a million.

Targeted are growing numbers of people, from typical political dissidents to labor organizers and, increasingly, ordinary Chinese who want Beijing to correct local wrongdoing. In method, this new policing represents a break from recent decades.

In Mao Zedong's radical communist heyday, colleagues, neighbors and family members snitched on suspected enemies of the revolution. Free-market reforms broke the totalitarian grip and gave people incentive to leave farms and state jobs for work in booming cities and industrial zones. Private lives and private wealth blossomed, creating less reason for snooping.

Money now fuels the extensive surveillance system. Budgeted spending for police, courts, prosecutors and other law enforcement has soared for much of the past decade, surpassing official outlays for the military for the second year in a row this year, to nearly 702 billion yuan, or $110 billion.

Allocated by Beijing to the provinces and on down, the money sometimes is called "stability preservation funds" for the overriding priority the government now puts on control. As long as trouble is quelled, Beijing doesn't seem to mind how this money is spent. It's proving a growth opportunity for cash-strapped local governments and small-time enforcers.

Along with the police, Yao counts the city education bureau as benefiting from the funds available for his surveillance. His minders are mainly drawn from the bureau, his Qianjiang Experimental Primary School and the ranks of physical education teachers throughout the city school system.

Anywhere from 14 to 50 people a day are on the local government payroll for his round-the-clock surveillance – what he calls the "Yao Lifa special squad." They get 50 yuan, $8, for a day shift and twice that for night work. Often, he said, hotel rooms, transport, meals and cigarettes are thrown in.

The sums add up in Qianjiang, a city of struggling factories and one million people set in the center of the country. Basic pay runs about 1,000 yuan, or $160, a month for an entry-level teacher and goes to three times that amount for a veteran, Yao said.

"This isn't bad for teachers," said Yao. "An English teacher probably wouldn't take it. They can earn extra money giving private tutoring. But gym teachers can't do the tutoring. Besides, their superiors have told them to do this. They can't not do it."

In the deep south farming county of Yun'an, more than a quarter of its 6,700 officials are on the "stability" payroll, the magazine Caijing reported last year. Township "stability" offices spent money on vans, motorcycles and computers, and also allocated reward money – 20,000 yuan or $3,100 in 2010 – for stopping any disgruntled local from going to Beijing to complain about conditions, the report said.

For blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng, the shock troops of his persecution were his neighbors. After the daring escape from his rural village outside Linyi city that eventually took him to New York, Chen detailed the two years of brutal house arrest in a video, saying over 100 police and other officials were involved. He, his wife and mother were beaten and his young daughter searched and harassed.

Family planning officials bore him a particular grudge for exposing forced abortions and sterilization under the government's one-child policy. But it was local farmers who guarded his house and the entrances to the village and plundered the family farm for food. They received 100 yuan, or $16, a day, and though they had to kick back a tenth to the head of the surveillance squad, Chen said it is still a good deal.

"Those people, if they work other jobs, they only make 50 to 60 yuan a day. But doing this, they don't have to do anything, and they have three free meals a day and they are safe. Of course they love to do it," Chen said in the video. He said he was told 30 million yuan, $4.3 million, was spent on his captivity in 2008 and by last year that amount had doubled.

The Public Security Ministry, the national police agency, did not respond to requests for comment about the outsourcing policy. Authorities in Linyi and Qianjiang either did not answer queries or declined comment on Chen and Yao.

Cases like Chen and Yao "are the tip of the iceberg," said John Kamm, a veteran human rights lobbyist. Research by Kamm's Dui Hua Foundation found that since the mid-1980s Beijing has tasked police throughout China with controlling the "targeted population." An initial quota for police to target 2 in every 1,000 people proved unattainable, Kamm said. He said 1 in 1,000 is a more accurate estimate, or 1.3 million people.

Included are recently released convicts, parolees, suspects on bail and anyone police see as a threat – from activist lawyers to evangelical Christians. Overtly political cases are a small, expanding subset. But once marked, the status is hard to shake.

"Joining the 'targeted population' is the last stop on the road to oblivion for political prisoners," said Kamm.

Yao's forays into politics started 25 years ago when he sought to use a new electoral law to get himself elected to Qianjiang's legislature as an independent. After more than a decade of trying, Yao succeeded in 1998. He made a name for himself as an activist trying to change the Communist Party-dominated system. He championed the rights of farmers rebelling against high taxes and fees.

The party fought back. Yao and 31 teachers and others inspired by him to run for legislatures in 2003 all lost in an election he complained was rigged. Afterward, Yao's short-term detentions began. But he also at times slipped away to meet like-minded activists around the country.

Soon after returning from a trip to Shanghai and Beijing early last year, the controls tightened. Yao said school Vice Principal Wang Qian, police and others kidnapped him and drove him 500 kilometers (300 miles) to a hotel. He got free by throwing a note out the window while his captors slept. During another hotel captivity in July, he jumped from a second story window at 3 a.m., injuring his back and an arm in a failed escape.

By September, the "Yao Lifa special squad" settled into the current pattern – picking him up in the morning and sending him home at night.

"Usually there are eight people with me at school, and those eight people have a duty: to speak and lecture me without interruption," said Yao. "One goal is to keep me from resting. A second is to see my reaction. One person is tasked with taking notes."

Some nights, Yao said shady-looking men sleep in a car by his building's entrance, in addition to the police in a hut. He said he heard the school and education bureau were arguing over $48,000 for his surveillance.

"I have many acquaintances. Some of them work in police stations," Yao said. "They tell me 'Really we could use a Yao Lifa. If we had one, we could make more money.'"

US stocks waver; euro dives on Greece turmoil - Yahoo Finance

Stronger news about the U.S. economy stilled the ripples from Europe's latest political impasse Tuesday, pushing U.S. stocks between modest gains and losses.

The euro and European stocks plunged as trading in New York began after efforts to form a government in Greece collapsed. Newly-elected political leaders there disagree about whether to accept more international bailouts and continue with painful spending cuts.

In the U.S., stocks staged a mid-morning rally after word that confidence among U.S. builders rose to a five-year high in May. The index has risen for seven of the past eight months. Homebuilders rallied. Hovnanian Enterprises surged 10 percent, Lennar Corp. 4 percent and KB Home 3 percent.

Earlier, a survey by the New York Federal Reserve found that manufacturing activity in the New York region rebounded this month far more strongly than economists had expected.

The market's early rise deflated briefly, then stocks climbed at midday to new daily highs. By the afternoon, the indexes again were flat for the day.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 12 points to 12,683 as of 3 p.m. EDT. Losses by most of its components were offset by gains for JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, shaking off recent losses related to the surprise $2 billion trading loss that JPMorgan announced last week.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell two to 1,336. The Nasdaq composite index rose seven to 2,909.

Stocks are having their worst month in the past eight. For the month, the Dow is down 518 points — about 4 percent — after hitting a four-year high on May 1. The average is on track to post its first monthly loss since September, when it fell 6 percent.

If the Dow closes higher, it will be only its second up day since the peak reached on May 1.

The euro fell as low as $1.2730, a four-month low against the dollar, after Greek socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos declared that attempts to form a governing coalition there had failed and new elections will be held next month. If voters elect parties opposed to the terms of the country's financial rescue, Greece could be expelled from the euro, shocking global markets.

Stock indexes in France, Britain and Germany gave up earlier gains after Venizelos' remarks and closed sharply lower.

Aside from fears about Europe, stocks are suffering because a string of weaker economic data in recent weeks has dampened hopes for corporate performance in the current quarter ending June 30, said John Butters, senior earnings analyst at FactSet, a financial data provider.

For the first month of the quarter, as earnings came in strong and stocks rose, analysts' expectations for second-quarter earnings growth held steady at 6 percent, Butters said. In the two weeks since then, as the U.S. economy appeared to soften and Europe's problems reemerged, analysts cut their estimates for S&P 500 earnings growth to 5 percent, he said.

Analysts expect earnings to decline this quarter for half of the 10 industry groups in the S&P 500, Butters said. He said many expect a strong rebound in the fourth quarter as demand returns in emerging markets such as China and India.

Among other stocks making big moves:

— Home Depot slumped 2 percent, the most of the 30 companies in the Dow, after the world's biggest home-improvement company forecast revenue that was below what Wall Street analysts were expecting.

— TJX Cos., which owns the T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods store chains, shot up 7 percent, the most in the S&P 500 index. The discount retailer reported a 58 percent surge in first-quarter income and raised its full-year profit forecast.

— Avon Products Inc. fell 11 percent, the most in the S&P 500 index, after Coty Inc. canceled its unsolicited, $10.7 billion bid for the cosmetics retailer.

— Groupon leapt 6 percent after the online daily discount site reported first-quarter revenue that exceeded analysts' expectations.


Daniel Wagner can be reached at

Mexico vows to push for business interests at G20 forum - Today's Zaman

“By creating a new working group during the Mexican presidency to analyze the impact of the recommendations made by the business community at the Seoul and Cannes G20 summits, we are making sure that the recommendations made in the past are not abandoned,” José Antonio Torre Medina, undersecretary for competitiveness and business regulation of Mexico, told Today's Zaman in an exclusive interview last week in Mexico City.

Fearing that suggestions made last month within the framework of the business group B20 may be in vain, he said Mexico has for the first time pushed for the creation of a new working group in order to follow up on and analyze the impact of the recommendations. The group is called the B20 Task Force on Advocacy and Impact and is co-chaired by Dominic Barton, global managing director of McKinsey & Company from the US, and Pablo Gonzalez, chief executive officer of Kimberly-Clark from Mexico.

Torre Medina, who acts as the government liaison for this working group, acknowledges there may be high expectations from the G20 to address all the issues brought to the table. However, he says the Mexican presidency will focus on what he called “high-impact suggestions.”

“We will look into achievable commitments,” he said, noting that G20 members represent a very diverse group of countries. “Turkey is different from Mexico in many aspects,” he added.

According to the mandate of this task force on advocacy and impact, the group will first look at the current status and barriers for advancement of the Cannes and Seoul recommendations. It will lobby for the B20 recommendations to enter the G20 agenda and write action plans for the recommendations. Most important, it will create a follow-up mechanism that includes defining a process to permanently track B20 and G20 recommendations.

The businesspeople represented in the B20 group gathered in the Mexican resort of Puerto Vallarta last month to engage in dialogue with G20 participants, with the hope of pushing their interests in the high-level summit to be held among leaders of the world's major economies next month in Las Cabos, Mexico. They submitted a list of proposals to be included in the final declaration of the G20 and established eight working groups on different issues to advance their agenda.

The recommendations, announced by Mexican businessman Alejandro Ramirez, president of the B20 Organizing Committee, state that the G20 should incorporate trade and investment in its agenda; lead by example by rejecting measures that restrict trade; promote multilateral trade liberalization according to rules outlined by the World Trade Organization; and create a working group focused on investment and report the results at the G20 summit meeting.

Eight working groups were established on food security; green growth; employment; transparency and eliminating corruption; trade and investment; ICT and innovations; financing for growth and development; and advocacy and impact.

Torre Medina emphasized there will be different levels of maturity on the progress of these working groups as some were previously established and some are new. He pointed out, however, that the participation of more than 150 international business leaders from 25 nations, with the support of international experts from the World Economic Forum, the International Chamber of Commerce, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as well as Mexican President Felipe Calderón were important. “Without the involvement of key stakeholders, the problems the world is facing cannot be solved,” he remarked.

The undersecretary admitted that fulfilling all the recommendations would not be easy. “In my view, we are improving the process. It is far from perfect, but it is better than before,” he said. “You will see different maturities for each one. It reflects how the summit will improve on key recommendations.”

He pointed out that the most difficult part boils down to the question of how to proceed on the commitments made by the member states. “Everybody agrees on the recommendations, but the ‘how' is the tricky part,” said Torre Medina. Nevertheless, he argued that keeping these issues in focus is vital. “Some will keep traction, and others will stay on the dashboard,” he noted.

Mexican officials also signaled that the solid performance of some member states on different issues may create an incentive for others to follow, thereby making the recommendations a useful tool for all members. “Let's say Turkey has made this. Here are the results and achievements. It can lead others by example. We are really focusing on getting good examples and success stories,” he explained. Similarly, Mexico can do certain things and Canada do others, Torre Medina stated.

Asked how all these suggestion will be framed in the final declaration, the undersecretary acknowledged that it will take a lot of innovative work on how to restructure these recommendations and how to make sure that the probability of their realization will go beyond the report. “That is a formidable challenge,” he admitted.

He stated that the B20 did not forget the important player, SMEs, even though their representation in the forum was dwarfed by big corporations. “Many of the task forces have recommendations on SMEs to make sure that they have the right tools and access to innovations and technology. In general, big companies participate in the task forces, but there is understanding on how to involve SMEs in the processes,” Torre Medina explained. In its report, the B20 group noted that SMEs are the dynamo of all economies, in many countries employing around 75 percent of employees and contributing between 30 and 60 percent of GDP and 45 percent of net new wealth.

He emphasized that working groups have a special focus on education. In the employment task force, he said, the B20 recognized the value of educating workers through training. “Learning by doing, not necessarily going to school, provides a value, and we should recognize that value,” he said. He also said the B20 highlighted the role of technology in education. In its report, the B20 group urged all stakeholders to “embrace the opportunities offered by modern technologies to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of workers and organizations across advanced, emerging and developing economies.”

Turkey was represented at the B20 task force on ICT and innovation by Ayşegül İldeniz, the regional director for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa of the Intel Corporation. In another task force on employment, Rıfat Hısarcıklıoğlu, chairman of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB), represents Turkey.

Utah’s OneStop Business Registration Program Recently Enhanced: - Yahoo Finance


Utah was the first state to streamline business registration, putting the entire process online in 2003. This saves the average Utah business owner over 80 hours when registering a new business. Recently, Utah’s OneStop Business Registration Program (OSBR),, has been significantly enhanced to further improve the user experience, allow for more business types to file online, and simplify the business registration process.

“Governor Gary R. Herbert has identified job creation as a top priority and Utah strives to be business friendly. Our comprehensive online offering supports existing Utah businesses and future growth,” said Francine Giani, Department of Commerce Executive Director. “The OneStop Business Registration Program streamlines the registration process for business owners. Ultimately, this fosters business development within the state, job expansion, and a flourishing Utah economy.”

The OneStop Business Registration system transformed a traditional three-week process by providing the service online, 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. Exceptional inter-governmental collaboration between respective agencies, including the Utah State Tax Commission, Utah Department of Commerce, Utah Department of Workforce Services, Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and 10 participating cities, allows business owners to register their business without filing additional paperwork and/or documentation.

Since inception, over 200,000 new businesses have been registered online. Now, over 60% of all businesses registered within the state are online. With over 2,600 new registrations on average each month, this results in monthly savings of approximately 208,000 hours for Utah businesses per year. In 2011, 27,000 businesses were registered online.

Users consistently recognize the service for its ease of use and convenience. “The OneStop Business Registration service was very easy to use. I received quick responses to any questions I had,” said one user. Another user echoed similar sentiment saying, “So much easier to get everything done at once. I’m a sole proprietor; I didn’t need anything fancy, didn’t have the time (or knowledge) to figure out the whole process on my own. Now I don’t have to worry that I may have missed something.”

Major OneStop Business Registration Enhancements Include:

  • User navigation and interface improvement
  • Improved glossary and frequently asked questions page
  • “Live Help”
  • Allows non-profits to register
  • Allows out of state and foreign registration
  • Enhanced receipt system
  • Ability to preview articles
  • Improved ownership (principals) section
  • Registration for additional tax types

An integral aspect of the business registration service offered by the State of Utah is Doing Business As (DBA) creation. In addition to the OneStop Business Registration updates, Doing Business As was also created to offer a simple online process for the sole proprietor or the exiting entity that is expanding and using an alias. The online Doing Business As application allows business owners to create the Doing Business As business entity within one to three days, from beginning to end. In general, about 15,000-17,000 Doing Business As entities are registered in Utah each year. The new online Doing Business As system simplifies small business creation in Utah while increasing accuracy.

“The online Doing Business As enhancement is government efficiency at its best and will serve the citizens of the state of Utah for many years,” said Kathy Berg, Director of Utah Division of Corporations and Uniform Commercial Code.

Accessible anytime, anywhere, users are able to seamlessly navigate on their mobile or tablet device. Internationally recognized and award-winning, Utah’s OneStop Business Registration and the newly created Doing Business As provide the most convenient, user-friendly business registration experiences.

To find out more information about, visit:



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Best financial advisers are motivated by helping you - Des Moines Register

Youve probably heard and read a lot of tips and advice about what makes a good financial adviser. Training, education, technical skills, experience and many other factors usually are mentioned, and these things are important. However, Im convinced that the most crucial attribute for a top-notch adviser is passion for working with clients and helping them reach their dreams.

I might not feel as strongly about this and I might not even be a financial adviser today were it not for the tremendous service I received from my first financial planner.

I started out in the corporate world, and although I didnt see my long-term future there, I liked my job. I had started working with a financial planner right after college, and he knew me well. He was focused on my future and had suggested that I pursue a financial planning career. I trusted him, and I decided to get an MBA and take investment and financial planning courses at night while working at my corporate job during the day.

Then I was offered a promotion that required me to relocate, and I discovered that it collided directly with my core values about family. I didnt want to leave Des Moines and move our family farther from my parents farm in southern Minnesota. Although I didnt see myself staying in the corporate world very long, this was a difficult decision.

A conversation with my financial planner gave me the courage to make the decision that started me on my current path. He asked: Jim, how many 35-year-olds do you know that have three years of income saved in their personal investment accounts? I know one you. Jim, you can leave corporate America, and even if you dont make any money for three years, you have enough to live on. After three years, you can always go back to corporate America.

I decided to leave my job and follow my calling, and it was the second-best decision of my life. The best decision was to marry my wife.

I have been in the financial planning profession for 18 years, and I love it as much as I did the day I started. In part because of the difference that my financial planner made in my life, I want to help make that same difference in the lives of other people. Seeing the results of my efforts in clients lives is my greatest reward.

How do you find an adviser who has the passion that I am talking about? Ultimately, you should feel financial peace of mind by working with that person. You should feel confident that he or she will protect the security of your retirement. Numbers and quantitative analysis certainly are important, but the advisers ability to communicate and give you a sense of confidence is just as important. Do you feel you can get along with and trust this person? You always should feel that you are in control. Ultimately, its your money, and you make the decisions.

The moral of my story: Passion for helping others ought to be the reason why people are in the financial planning profession not passion for helping themselves.

Stocks close out week higher despite Spain's growing troubles - Denver Post

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks fell Friday but still managed a first positive week in four as investors fretted over troubles in Spain, where banks are under severe financial strain and government bond yields shot higher.

"European leaders need to address the situation quickly. The nature of contagion is it feeds on itself," said Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth Management. "Traders by and large tend to square their positions before a big holiday weekend where there's potential for news flow, especially from Europe."

The Dow Jones industrial average Friday lost 74.92 points, or 0.6 percent, to 12,454.83, with the blue-chip index up 0.7 percent for the week.

Posting a 1.7 percent rise from the week-ago close, the S&P 500 index retreated 2.86 points, or 0.2 percent, Friday to 1,317.82. The Nasdaq composite fell 1.85 point to 2,837.53, leaving it 2.1 percent higher from the previous Friday's close.

The European-related uncertainty had investors once again flocking to the perceived safe havens of U.S. Treasury notes, the U.S. dollar and gold.

Yields on the benchmark 10-year note fell to 1.74 percent, while the dollar gained against currency rivals, including the euro. Gold futures for June delivery climbed $11.50, or 0.7 percent, to end at $1,568.80 an ounce.

Oil prices advanced, with the July contract rising 20 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $90.86 a barrel.

In Spain, bond yields jumped, rattled on reports that one of Spain's autonomous regions has asked for assistance from the government because it can't get debt financing from markets.

The yield on Spain's 10-year government bond jumped after media outlets reported the warning from the president of Catalonia, Artur Mas.

Troubled Spanish lender Bankia said Friday the government was ready to inject about $24 billion in financial support requested by Bankia in what would be the biggest bank rescue in Spain's history.

And Standard & Poor's on Friday cut its credit-worthiness ratings on five Spanish banks and revised its assessment of the country's economic risk, saying it believes Spain was headed to a double-dip recession.

Stocks fall on Europe worries; Facebook debuts - Yahoo Finance

It's going to take more than Facebook's initial public offering to push the stock market higher.

Facebook shares rose 23 cents above their $38 offering price. It seemed like everything else fell.

The Dow Jones industrial average has been in a slump over the past two weeks as traders saw an escalating risk that Greece could leave the euro, causing more disruptions in markets. Remember the go-go days of May 1, 2012? The Dow was up 8.7 percent for the year. After Friday, it's up just 1.2 percent.

On Friday the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 73.11 points, to close at 12,369.38. It fell 3.5 percent for the week. The Dow has now declined on 12 of the last 13 trading days.

Nine of the 10 industry groups in the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell. Financials dropped the most, 1.1 percent.

First, Facebook.

Trading for the year's most eagerly awaited initial public offering was delayed about 30 minutes because of a glitch at Nasdaq. Nasdaq said the problem was with sending messages about whether trades had been executed. It was almost two-and-a-half hours before it said its trade messages were working normally.

The glitch sent shares of Nasdaq OMX Group Inc., parent company of the Nasdaq market, down 4.4 percent.

Facebook shares were priced at $38 and initially traded as high as $45. They closed at $38.23.

Europe was the bigger worry for investors. The Fitch ratings agency dropped Greece to the lowest possible grade for a country not in default Thursday. Fitch said Greece's departure from the euro "would be probable" if elections next month do not reverse political trends in Greece, which have brought in politicians opposed to the terms of Europe's bailout.

Also, ratings agency Moody's downgraded 16 Spanish banks late Thursday, three days after downgrading Italy's, noting they are vulnerable to huge losses on government debt.

Representatives of the G-8 are meeting this weekend at Camp David, looking for assurances that leaders in Europe can contain damage if Greece leaves the euro.

"Despite all the attention on the Facebook IPO, I think there's still lots of underlying uncertainty surrounding this European debt situation," said Scott Wren, senior equity strategist for Wells Fargo Advisors in St. Louis. "This Greek situation isn't good. I think it's going to get worse before it gets better. Probably the same with Spain."

Borrowing costs for Italy rose slightly to 5.76 percent on Friday. The yield on Spain's 10-year bond fell slightly to 6.2 percent, a level that's still very high by historic standards.

European shares edged lower, following several days of big losses. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.1 percent, Germany's DAX lost 0.6 percent and France's CAC-40 fell 0.1 percent.

"The serious investors remain very concerned about the developments in Europe," said Jim Russell, regional investment director for US Bank Wealth Management in Cincinnati. "We think Facebook is a little bit of a sideshow. Great company. But maybe one that's valued on the high side of most people's tastes."

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 9.64 points to close at 1,295.22. The Nasdaq composite index fell 34.90 points, or 1.2 percent, to close at 2,778.79.

Hewlett-Packard fell 2.7 percent — the biggest decline among the Dow's 30 stocks — after it said it might eliminate up to 30,000 jobs because of dwindling demand for personal computers.

Gap fell 2.3 percent even though it issued higher guidance for the year.

There were bright spots. jumped 8.8 percent after the maker of web-based business software reported better-than-expected earnings and raised its guidance for the year. Foot Locker rose 8.3 percent after its quarterly profit jumped 36 percent, sprinting past Wall Street predictions and setting a company record for quarterly earnings.

Yahoo rose 3.7 percent after Dow Jones' tech website reported that the web portal is close to a deal to sell a large part of its stake in China's Alibaba Group. Many investors view the Alibaba stake as Yahoo's most valuable asset.

Oil prices fell $1.08 to $91.48. Along with stocks, oil has dropped rapidly in recent days because slowing economies use less of it.

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