Business news for Tuesday, December 10.

Mary Barra (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for FORTUNE)

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. stock market has opened slightly lower after another day of record highs. The breather comes as international stock markets were flat or edging lower as well Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 18 points to 16,007. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down three points to 1,805, just below its all-time closing high Monday. The Nasdaq composite fell six points to 4,062.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Five U.S. regulatory agencies are voting today on the so-called Volcker Rule, a major step toward preventing extreme risk-taking on Wall Street that helped trigger the 2008 financial crisis. U.S. banks will be barred in most cases from trading for their own profit. The rule seeks to ban banks from the lucrative practice of proprietary trading -- in other words, trades for their own profit. The rule also limits banks' investments in hedge funds.

DETROIT (AP) — A person briefed on the matter says General Motors' board has named product development chief Mary Barra as the company's next CEO. A formal announcement is expected later today. Barra currently is senior vice president for global product development. She's in charge of design, engineering and quality of all of GM's vehicles across the globe.

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Good news for Coca Cola and Diet Coke drinkers. The European Food Safety Authority has found that the artificial sweetener aspartame is safe for people to consume at the levels currently used in diet soft drinks. A previous study had suggested a cancer and genetic risk. Aspartame is also known under the brand name NutraSweet.

AMSTERDAM (AP) — The European Commission has fined pharmaceuticals giants Johnson & Johnson and Novartis a combined $22 million for colluding to delay the entrance of a cheap generic form of a pain killer to the Dutch market. In a statement, the Commission's antitrust chief says the two companies "shockingly deprived patients in the Netherlands, including people suffering from cancer, from access to a cheaper version of this medicine."

NEW YORK (AP) — The prospect of a federal budget deal might be keeping stock traders optimistic, although it remains to be seen if Wall Street can match the record close of yesterday. Stocks extended a rally from Friday that was driven by a report of solid U.S. job gains. Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Wealth Management Group, says stocks were supported by reports that U.S. lawmakers were moving closer to reaching a longer-term budget deal. Futures point to a muted opening today.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — International stock markets are muted this morning after some profit taking and after China's industrial production output grew slightly less than estimated. Benchmark crude oil rose to near $98 a barrel. The dollar fell against the euro and the yen.

SINGAPORE (AP) — It's 'wait 'till next year' for the United States and 11 other nations trying to negotiate a free trade zone stretching from Chile to Japan. Talks in Singapore failed to produce the agreement which some hoped would be done before the end of the year. But officials say progress was made and more talks are scheduled for January.

BRUSSELS (AP) — One vexing issue facing European finance ministers trying to centralize control over banks is whether there should be a common fund to recue failed institutions or whether each country should take care of its own. The European Union finance ministers are meeting in Brussels today.

DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. government ended up losing $10.5 billion on the General Motors bailout, but it says the alternative would have been far worse. The Treasury Department sold its final shares of the Detroit auto giant on Monday, recovering $39 billion of the $49.5 billion it spent to save the dying automaker at the height of the financial crisis five years ago. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew says that without the bailout, the country would have lost more than a million jobs, and the economy could have slipped from recession into a depression.


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