Ethanol's discount to gasoline widened to the largest gap in three months as the cost of producing the biofuel eased. Prices followed corn lower after a U.S. Agriculture Department report showed export inspections for the grain dropped 66 percent from a year earlier to 13.475 million bushels, easing demand for the ethanol feedstock. Ethanol's discount to the motor fuel expanded to 60.98 cents a gallon based on January contracts, the widest since Sept. 28. Denatured ethanol for January delivery fell 2.2 cents, or 1 percent, to settle at $2.206 a gallon on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Prudential brokerage ordered to pay $10.7M

Pruco Securities, the brokerage run by Prudential Financial Inc., will pay customers at least $10.7 million to make up for delays in placing more than 850,000 mutual fund orders. Trades were placed one to two days after the orders arrived by fax or mail, causing some customers to get inferior prices from late 2003 until June 2011, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority said. Finra also fined Pruco $550,000 for the errors and oversight failures. Companies must price mutual fund orders that arrive before 4 p.m. on the day they're received, Finra said.

Hedge fund wants board out at oil company

A New York hedge fund filed papers with federal securities regulators seeking to oust the board at SandRidge Energy, the latest salvo in its continuing campaign against the struggling Oklahoma City oil-and-gas company. The hedge fund, TPG-Axon Capital Management, which owns nearly 7 percent of SandRidge's shares, submitted so-called consent solicitation documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission, offering up its own slate of directors to replace the current board. TPG-Axon accuses SandRidge of an onerous debt load, reckless spending and incoherent business strategy.

Chipmaker told to pay $1.17B in patent case

A federal jury ordered Marvell Technology Group Ltd. to pay $1.17 billion in damages that may be tripled for infringing patents on integrated-circuit technology held by Carnegie Mellon University. Marvell, which makes chips for computers and mobile phones, fell 85 cents or 10 percent, to $7.40 after the verdict in federal court in Pittsburgh. The jury found Marvell's infringement willful, providing a basis for U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer to increase the award by as much as three times, according to a statement by K&L Gates, the law firm representing the university.

Knight Capital CEO in line for $7.5M payday

Thomas Joyce, the chief executive of Knight Capital Group Inc., is poised to collect a $7.5 million retention payment tied to Getco's acquisition of the market-making firm, according to a government filing. The bonus would be due when Getco, the Chicago-based high-frequency trading firm, completes its purchase of Knight, based on the Dec. 19 filing. The new company will be called KCG, for Knight Capital Getco, and if the merger is terminated, Knight or Getco may be required to pay the other party a $53 million fee, the companies said.