Stocks slip as Fed starts to talk about stimulus

NEW YORK - Nobody wanted to stick their neck out on Tuesday. The stock market edged slightly lower as the Federal Reserve started a two-day policy meeting that may herald the beginning of the end for its economic stimulus.

Few expect that the Fed will announce it plans to pare back, or "taper," its bond-buying program after its meeting wraps up Wednesday. However, good news on the U.S. economy this month and a budget deal appeared to have increased the likelihood of a change.

Major stock indices fell, but just slightly. The S&P 500 index eased 5 to 1,781. The Dow Jones industrial average crept down 9 to 15,875.26. The Nasdaq composite edged lower by 5 to 4,023. 68.

USC taps UNC prof to lead its business school

COLUMBIA - The University of South Carolina has chosen a specialist in international business from North Carolina as the new dean for the Darla Moore School of Business. USC provost Michael Amiridis says 56-year-old Peter Brews takes over Jan. 16.

Brews is a South Africa native and professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina.

Amiridis says Brews brings more than 25 years of international business education experience to the position. Brews has written about strategic management for firms dealing with the Internet and the issue of world-wide productivity. Hildy Teegen stepped down as Moore School's dean in June.

The school has more than 4,000 undergraduates and nearly 900 graduate students.

Director: Microsoft to pick CEO in early 2014

Microsoft expects to finish its search for CEO Steve Ballmer's replacement by early next year.

Board director John Thompson, who heads the company's executive search committee, said so in a blog post Tuesday. Ballmer said in August he would retire within 12 months.

Thompson said the committee initially identified over 100 candidates, spoke with several dozen, whittled the group to 20 and then narrowed the list further. He said the company's full board has also been involved.

He reiterated chairman Bill Gates' comments at the November shareholders meeting, saying the job involves running a complex business and requires someone to lead a "highly technical organization and work with top technical talent."

Pfizer, Teva reach deal to allow generic Viagra

Pfizer has reached a settlement with Teva Pharmaceuticals allowing the generic drugmaker to launch a copycat of the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra in 2017.

Pfizer says Teva will pay an undisclosed royalty to produce a generic version of one of Pfizer's best-selling drugs. Viagra had about $1.14 billion in U.S. sales last year. The patent protecting Viagra from competition expires in April 2020. Teva will be allowed to sell its version Dec. 11, 2017.

$1.1B Calif. paint ruling may spark more suits

A California judge has stunned the paint industry by ordering three companies to pay $1.1 billion to help local governments remove lead from an estimated 5 million homes. The ruling Monday bucked the industry's quarter-century record of legal success against public agencies.

Paint manufacturers have defeated some 50 lawsuits filed nationwide by public agencies seeking billions of dollars to remove lead-based paint from homes built before the paint was banned. But Santa Clara County Judge James Kleinberg found the companies marketed paint that they knew was harmful to children.

Legal experts and industry supporters predict a revival of paint-related lawsuits if the verdict is allowed to stand.

Wire reports