Stocks fall on concern over economy, budget

NEW YORK — Concerns about the strength of the economy and the potential for a budget fight in Washington pushed down the stock market Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 index fell for a third straight day.

The Dow jumped Wednesday to close at an all-time high after the Fed decided to keep its economic stimulus program intact. But that rally has been wiped out by anxiety over a budget and debt fight in Washington over the past three days.

The Dow fell 49.71 to 15,401.38 Monday. The S&P 500 index dropped 8.07 to 1,701.84. The Nasdaq fell 9.44 to 3,765.29.

Fiat’s Chrysler prepares for IPO, with reluctance

DETROIT — Chrysler Group is reluctantly preparing for an initial public offering of some of its shares. The automaker is proceeding with the IPO after it failed to reach an agreement on the value of the stock with the retiree trust that owns it.

Chrysler shares haven’t been publicly traded since 1998, when the company merged with Daimler AG. The automaker is now majority owned by Italian automaker Fiat SpA.

The shares that will be sold are owned by a United Auto Workers-run trust that pays the health care costs for around 130,000 blue-collar Chrysler retirees. The trust currently owns a 41.5 percent stake in Chrysler, and will get all of the proceeds from the sale if it goes forward.

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat and Chrysler, wants to buy up the UAW’s share and combine Fiat and Chrysler. But the two sides have been unable to agree on a price.

DOT OKs Delta-Virgin Atlantic joint venture

ATLANTA — Delta Air Lines Inc. says it can begin its joint venture with Virgin Atlantic now that they have antitrust immunity from the U.S. Transportation Department.

The antitrust immunity announced on Monday means Delta and Virgin Atlantic can work together on scheduling flights, and share the profits.

The airlines plan to have a combined 32 round-trip flights a day, including 24 that leave from London’s Heathrow.

For Delta, which is Charleston International Airport’s biggest carrier, the deal is a way to beef up its offerings between the New York area and London. It’s also likely to get more connecting travelers from Virgin Atlantic. For Virgin Atlantic, the deal is a way to get more of Delta’s customers who are headed to London.

Wal-Mart is expanding jobs for 70K workers

NEW YORK — Wal-Mart Stores is hiring 55,000 seasonal workers and is elevating 70,000 more to part- or full-time positions as the holiday season ramps up.

The world’s largest retailer said Monday that 35,000 temporary workers will become part-time and 35,000 part-time workers will gain full-time jobs.

The shift means that Wal-Mart will be offering more of its workers benefits. That’s significant because Wal-Mart has been a target of attacks by labor groups for what they say are skimpy wages and benefits.

Flowers: Wonder bread is returning to shelves

NEW YORK — Wonder bread is back almost a year after it vanished from shelves. Flowers Foods Inc., which bought Wonder from the now-defunct Hostess Brands, says the bread started returning to supermarket shelves Monday.

The company, which also makes Tastykake and Nature’s Own bread, snapped up five bread brands after Hostess went out of business late last year. The $355 million deal included Butternut, Home Pride and Merita, which are all returning to shelves along with Wonder.

Keith Aldredge, vice president of marketing at Flowers Foods, says the company is still deciding the fate of the Nature’s Pride bread brand.

Staff and wire reports