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Top 10 Business Stories of 2006
Review of the top ten business news stories as chosen by the msnbc.com business and finance news department for the year of 2006.

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Top Ten Business Stories Review 2006 Top Ten Business Stories in America 2006

The business and finance department at msnbc.com has looked back over the top business stories for the year of 2006 and have come up with their top ten stories. It was an event filled year for the economy last year, so there was a lot of headlines to choose from.

1. Wall Street Surges
Stock market investors saw a record breaking year of rises with the Dow breaking through the 12,000 point barrier. Large cashed up funds played a part in the increase in prices with their seemingly insatiable appetite for publicly held companies.

2. US Housing Slump
While the stock market went north, the housing market went south or stayed idle at best. The boom is over according to the former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan. With mortgage rates moving up from their record lows, home owners that overstretched may continue to struggle with payments.

3. HP Spy Scandal
Hewlett-Packard's former chairwoman Patricia Dunn became involved in the much publicized spy scandal. In an attempt to catch board members that were leaking company information to journalists, HP hired private investigators to gain access to phone records and other details about them. This action prompted congress to outlaw the act of "pretexting" and Dunn resigned from her position at HP in September.

4. Enron's Final Chapter
Enron's chairman Ken Lay and CEO Jeffrey Skilling were charged with defrauding investors. Lay escaped sentencing through death and Skilling started paying for his crimes with a 24 year prison sentence.

5. US Automotive Industry Struggles
The U.S. automotive industry struggled with competition from overseas automakers like Japan's Toyota. Massive restructuring plans are being implemented to stop the hemorrhaging at Ford and General Motors. While an ease in gas prices may increase sales of the big gas guzzling SUVs at the big three American car manufacturers, it is almost inevitable that the more efficient Toyota will become the world's largest auto manufacturer.

6. Gas Prices Sore
American consumers saw gas prices heading towards $4 per gallon. There was some relief from August through to Halloween, but there is absolutely no stability in the prices. 2007 is expected to be just as unpredictable.

7. Wal-Mart Assailed
The world's largest retailer had a year of ups and downs, with most of them being down. Everyone from unions, to politicians, to activists, to environmentalists, and small business owners fought it out with Wal-Mart.

8. Backdating Scandal
Senior executives and directors came under fire for manipulating their massive option grants. Their actions were likened to picking lotto numbers the day after the winning numbers were drawn. Among the 195 companies under some kind of investigation were Apple Computer Inc., Barnes & Noble Inc., Caremark Rx Inc., Costco Wholesale Corp., Gap Inc., The Home Depot Inc., McAfee Inc., Monster Worldwide Inc., Restoration Hardware Inc., Staples Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc.

9. Bill Gates to Step Down at Microsoft
The richest man in the world announced that he will be leaving Microsoft to spend his time at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Having a friend like Warren Buffett giving much of his fortune to Bill Gates has made this an even bigger move. See Buffett gives Billions.

10. Fed Reserve Snaps Streak
After a two year rate hike streak that saw 17 straight rises, the new Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke put a hold on increases. Opinions on the economic future now range from an impending recession through a soft landing.





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