U.S. rate cut boosts global markets

Asian markets closed sharply higher, led by a 3.7 percent jump in Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225, after the U.S. Federal Reserve aggressively cut interest rates by 50 basis points. European markets also rose steeply in early trading. (AP in Yahoo! Finance) "It's a bit like the cavalry arriving, this time in helicopter gunships,'' said Daniel Broby at Renaissance Investment Management in London. (Bloomberg) The global rally, and the large and broad gains in U.S. markets yesterday, helped push oil above $82 a barrel as expectations for greater demand exacerbated supply concerns. (Reuters)

Wal-Mart expands health benefits

Wal-Mart, the nation's largest private employer, is broadly expanding the range of its employee health insurance options. Starting Jan. 1, U.S. workers will have 50 options to choose from, including 2,400 generic prescription drugs for $4 a copayment and plans with $4.43 monthly premiums. (USA Today) About half of Wal-Mart's 1.34 million U.S. employees are covered under its plans, while 10 percent have no health coverage. (The Washington Post) Wal-Mart is offering "a very good plan," said Helen Darling of the National Business Group on Health. "Parts of it, like the $4 generics, are game-changing for the industry." (The New York Times, free registration required)

Foreclosures on the rise

The number of homes in some stage of foreclosure jumped 115 percent in August, compared with a year earlier, and rose 36 percent from July. (New York Daily News) RealtyTrac reported 243,947 foreclosure filings in August, and said that the total number for 2007 would probably exceed 2 million. ( Analysts predict that in the next three months, about half of the 450,000 subprime borrowers whose adjustable-rate mortgages reset could lose their homes. "Short of the cavalry riding in over the hill, a lot of these people are just stuck," said Christopher Cagan at First American CoreLogic. (Bloomberg)

Kiss-ups vs. slackers

It's official: Brownnosers and slackers are equally annoying. According to the 7,000 respondents of an online poll by SnagAJob-dot-com, "slackers" and "kiss-ups" tied for the dubious prize of most annoying type of coworker, each garnering 32.6 percent of the vote. Next down the list: the "gossip hound" (18.4 percent), the "loud talker" (11.8 percent), and the "hypochondriac" (4.6 percent). "Everyone has someone that they work with that just rubs them the wrong way," said SnagAJob's Cathy McCarthy, and too many annoying workers "can hurt a company's morale." On the upside, she added, "They also make for good stories." (MarketWatch)