Wall St. drifts before long weekend; consumer stocks up
U.S. stocks ended little changed on Friday ahead of the long holiday weekend, though indexes ended a two-week streak of losses and consumer shares were strong for a second day.
LONDON Riot police staged baton charges to try to disperse several hundred protesters gathered around the Bank of England in the heart of London's financial center on Wednesday after a day of protest against the G20 summit.
Demonstrators had earlier attacked a nearby branch of Royal Bank of Scotland in protest against a system they said had robbed the poor to benefit the rich. Hundreds of protesters converged on the bank, shattering three windows.
Rescued by the government in October, RBS and former boss Fred Goodwin, who controversially refused to give up a pension award of 700,000 ($1 million), became lightning rods for public anger in Britain over banker excess blamed for the crisis.
The protests were timed to coincide with a G20 meeting of the world's leading and emerging economies.
Protesters hurled paint bombs and bottles, chanting: "Our streets! Our banks!"
RBS said in a statement it was "aware of the violence" outside its branch and "had already taken the precautionary step" of closing central city of London branches.
As dusk fell, police charged against a hard core of anti-capitalist demonstrators in an attempt to disperse them before nightfall. Bottles flew through the air toward police lines and police on horseback stood by ready to intervene.
Some protesters set fire to an effigy of a banker hanging from a lamppost.
Police brought out dogs as they tried to channel the few hundred remaining protesters through the narrow streets surrounding the classical, stone-clad Bank of England.
Police said 32 protesters had been arrested by early evening and at least one officer was taken to hospital for treatment.
Some 4,000 protesters had thronged outside the central bank, and a Gucci store nearby was closed and its windows emptied.
Demonstrations were planned for Thursday at the venue in east London where world leaders will discuss plans to fight the financial crisis, police said.
HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE
Earlier, protesters marched behind models of the "four horsemen of the apocalypse" representing financial crimes, war, climate change and homelessness.
Some threw eggs at police and chanted "build a bonfire, put the bankers on the top." Others shouted "jump" and "shame on you" at financial sector workers watching the march from office block windows.
"I am angry at the hubris of the government, the hubris of the bankers," said Jean Noble, a 60-year-old from Blackburn in northern England.
"I am here on behalf of the poor, those who are not going to now get their pension or who have lost their houses while these fat cats keep their bonuses, hide their money in tax havens and go and live where nobody can touch them."
A smaller demonstration against Britain's military role in Iraq and Afghanistan attracted several hundred people in Trafalgar Square, not far from parliament.
The protests, which brought together anti-capitalists, environmentalists, anti-war campaigners and others, were meant to mark what demonstrators called "Financial Fools' Day" -- a reference to April fool's day which falls on April 1.
Police stopped a military-style armored vehicle with the word "RIOT" printed on the front and a police spokesman said its 11 occupants were arrested for having fake police uniforms.
(Additional reporting by William Maclean; Writing by Peter Griffiths) .
WASHINGTON The U.S. economy slowed less than initially thought in the first quarter, but softening business investment and moderate consumer spending are clouding expectations of a sharp acceleration in the second quarter.
NEW YORK U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chief Jay Clayton is expected to name Steven Peikin, a partner from his former law firm, to help lead enforcement at the agency, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.