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Today in business: 5 things you need to know
Intrade shuts down, Italy's bonds sink following a credit downgrade, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion
A letter from the Intrade board of directors to their customers.
A letter from the Intrade board of directors to their customers. intrade.com

1. INTRADE SHUTS DOWN WITH NO ADVANCE NOTICE
Famed Ireland-based predictions market Intrade abruptly shut down on Sunday, citing possible "financial irregularities." Intrade was actively taking bets on who will be the next pope and whether the Democrats would keep the White House in 2016 up to the moment when it posted a message on its website saying that "due to circumstances recently discovered we must immediately cease trading activity." Intrade said the circumstances "require immediate further investigation," and it closed all customer accounts at fair market value, to be paid out after the investigation is concluded, but said it hoped to "resume operations as promptly as possible." [Bloomberg News]
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2. EUROPE BANS COSMETICS TESTED ON ANIMALS
European Union regulators on Monday are banning the import and sale of cosmetics with ingredients tested on animals. The EU banned animal testing of finished cosmetic products in 2004, and had already banned animal-tested ingredients four years ago, but the regulations were relaxed under heavy lobbying by cosmetics manufacturers. The new ban will go into effect immediately and "gives an important signal on the value that Europe attaches to animal welfare," said Tonio Borg, the EU commissioner for health and consumer policy, in the draft of a statement to be released Monday. France-based cosmetics giant L'Oréal promised to respect the ban and stop selling products covered by it in Europe after Monday. [New York Times]
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3. PAKISTAN STARTS WORK ON GAS PIPELINE FROM IRAN
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari attended a ceremony in Iran on Monday to celebrate the beginning of work extending a pipeline to bring energy-starved Pakistan natural gas from Iran. Pakistan is counting on the 1,244-mile pipeline for more than 750 million cubic feet of gas daily. The project is nearly complete on Iran's side of the border, and now work is beginning in Pakistan. The U.S. has warned Pakistan to abandon the project or face possible economic penalties under the Iran Sanctions Act, which is designed to pressure Iran into reining in its nuclear program. [Los Angeles Times]
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4. ITALIAN BONDS SINK AFTER FITCH CREDIT DOWNGRADE
Italy's government bonds declined for a second straight day on Monday following a credit downgrade from Fitch Ratings, from A- to BBB+. Italy's recession is among the deepest in Europe. Fitch knocked down its credit rating after inconclusive elections threatened to leave the government powerless to take painful steps to reduce its deficits and restore the confidence of investors. Fitch said the "political uncertainty" would serve as an obstacle to financial reform and "constitute a further adverse shock to the real economy." [Bloomberg Businessweek]
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5. WHOLE FOODS ANNOUNCES GMO LABELING PLAN
Upscale grocery chain Whole Foods Market will be the first major retailer in the United States to require that all genetically modified foods (GMOs) in their U.S. and Canadian stores be labeled by 2018, the company announced over the weekend. The move could "radically alter the food industry," notes The New York Times, and could prompt other grocers to follow suit. Whole Foods said on its corporate blog that it was standing up "for the consumer's right to know." There are no mandatory labeling laws in Canada and the United States, but more than 60 countries have some form of regulation and several U.S. states are considering the issue. [Slate]

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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