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Wednesday business briefs

Two computer programmers

linked to Madoff indicted

Two former computer programmers for convicted money manager Bernard Madoff were indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Manhattan. Jerome O'Hara, 47, of Malverne, and George Perez, 44, of New Jersey, are accused of developing and maintaining the computer programs used in Madoff's fraudulent investment-advisory business. They each face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison on charges of conspiracy and falsifying records of a broker-dealer and of an investment adviser. O'Hara's lawyer, Gordon Mehler, and Perez's lawyer, Larry H. Krantz, didn't immediately return calls seeking comment on the indictments. Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence.

Ford shares at 5-year high

on news of Moody's rating

Shares of Ford Motor Co. hit five-year highs Wednesday after Moody's Investors Service upgraded its ratings for the automaker and its credit arm. Moody's says that the restructured Ford is performing better than expected. The ratings agency also says it's reviewing Ford for yet another upgrade. The stock rose 61 cents Wednesday, or 4.52 percent, to close at $14.10. Ford shares closed as low as $1.26 on Nov. 19, 2008. One hundred shares purchased for $126 at the 2008 low would now be worth $1,410.

Seventh straight positive

session for Dow index

The stock market has a new formula for success: a slow and steady trek higher. The Dow Jones industrial average recorded its seventh straight advance to close at a new high for 2010. All three indexes reached their best levels since 2008. The advance is occurring in part because investors' list of worries isn't growing. There are still big problems like unemployment and government deficits, but they're not new. And some worries, such as Greece's debt troubles, are easing. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 47.69 points, or 0.5 percent, to 10,733.67. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 6.75, or 0.6 percent, to 1,166.21. The Nasdaq rose 11.08, or 0.5 percent, to 2,389.09.

Oil spikes above $82 as

OPEC holds line on output

OPEC oil ministers Wednesday opted to keep their output targets unchanged in a bid to keep prices at present levels and send a message of stability to energy-hungry economies struggling to emerge from recession. Oil prices rose above $82 a barrel Wednesday after the OPEC decision, and closed at $82.93, up $1.23.

SEC: Firms' actions before

fiscal crisis being probed

The head of the Securities and Exchange Commission confirmed Wednesday that the agency is investigating several companies' actions in the run-up to the financial crisis of 2008. SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said "it would be safe to assume" that the agency is looking very closely at the conduct of a number of firms during this time. She did not name the companies.

From wire reports

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