Morning Business Memo

Dec 29, 2011 7:06am

It’s been a pretty good year for the auto industry. New car and truck sales are expected to top 12.8 million. Truecar.com crunched the numbers, and says that’s the highest level since 2008. The projection means manufacturers could sell 1.2 million more vehicles this year than in 2010, when the industry sold about 11.6 million new cars and trucks. Industry analysts predict car and truck sales will continue to rise next year, perhaps to more than 14 million.

Federal prosecutors are preparing what would be the first criminal charges against BP employees stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, reports The Wall Street Journal. The explosion and fire killed 11 workers and caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Prosecutors are said to be focusing on several Houston-based engineers and at least one of their supervisors at BP. False information may have been given to regulators about drilling risks in the Gulf of Mexico well. No comment from the Justice Department.

The price of gold is tumbling after reaching a new record high this year. Gold is down again this morning falling to under $1,560 an ounce – the cheapest price since July. Silver dropped to its lowest level since January, sliding more than 5 percent yesterday.

Italy’s bond auction today went better than a similar sale last month. Ten-year rates on Italian government debt came in at just under 7 percent. Though that’s lower than the 7.56 percent it had to pay at an equivalent auction last month, Italy’s borrowing rate remains uncomfortably close to the level widely considered to be unsustainable in the long run. More big bond sales by Italy and Spain are planned for the early weeks of next year, they could put European finances under fresh stress.

Greek tax officials walked off the job today at the start of a 48-hour strike to protest salary cuts and other austerity measures. The Greek government is struggling to meet revenue targets demanded by international creditors.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio twitter.com/daviesabc

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