The party hits a slow patch

Global stocks sank early today, with Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 closing down 1.6 percent. (AP in Yahoo! Finance) After several days of market gains, investors are wary of upcoming economic reports, including the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Beige Book due out this afternoon. ( “The rebound is almost done,” said Lim Chang-gue at Samsung Investment Trust Management in Seoul. “A further rally is not likely given there is still lingering uncertainty about the potential impact of the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis on the global economy.” (Reuters)

Mattel recalls Chinese toys . . . again

Mattel recalled 848,000 Chinese-made toys worldwide because they contained lead paint, its third such recall since Aug. 1. The recalled products include Barbie accessories and three Fischer-Price toys. (MarketWatch) Mattel and the Consumer Product Safety Commission are sparring over how soon suspected hazardous products need to be reported, and Mattel has paid more than $2 million in late-disclosure fines to the agency since 2001. (USA Today) “The only thing more frightening than these tainted toys from China falling into the hands of children is how powerless the very agency in charge of consumer protection is to stop it,” said Sen. Charles Schumer. (The Washington Post)

Yahoo buys another online ad firm

Yahoo! said it was buying Internet ad firm BlueLithium for $300,000 in cash, escalating the race by major Internet players to snap up smaller ad firms. “I anticipate this continuing,” said Mike Vorhaus at consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates. (Los Angeles Times, free registration required) BlueLithium specializes in targeting ads based on a Web user’s behavior and browsing history. It is the fifth-largest online ad network in the U.S., and the second-largest in Britain. (MarketWatch) Earlier in the day, Yahoo! shares closed 5.5 percent higher after a Bear Stearns analyst named it as his top pick for the next 12 to 18 months. (

Lunch lady as health czar

As students return to school, healthier food awaits them. With new state and federal guidelines designed to counter the rising number of obese and overweight children, students can expect smaller beverages, baked French fries, and whole wheat cookies. But banning cupcakes in classrooms may have gone too far. Parents in Texas successfully pushed for a “Safe Cupcake Amendment” to the state nutrition guidelines. In other states, the ban remains. “I remember growing up and a birthday party was a big deal when you got to bring a treat,” said New Jersey parent Amy Joswick. (The New York Times, free registration required)