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November 16, 2011 06:00 AM

Wednesday Morning Business Brief


Stocks firmed in Tuesday trading, led by technology shares. The Dow added 17 points, or 0.1 percent, to 12,096. The S&P rose 6 points, while the Nasdaq surged 29 points, or 1.1 percent. Futures trading suggests a lower open.
  • International stock markets retreated today as Europe's festering debt crisis overshadowed figures showing that Americans increased their retail spending for a fifth straight month. Crude oil prices slipped below $99 per barrel on higher-than expected inventory news. Another inventory report is due out today.
  • Congress is getting ready to send President Barack Obama a bill helping government contractors and unemployed veterans. It also contains the first shred of his jobs plan likely to reach his desk for his signature. The House planned to vote on the legislation Wednesday and seemed likely to give it overwhelming support.
  • There's a full slate of economic reports on tap today. They include the Consumer Price Index, industrial production and the home builders housing market index.
  • Japan's central bank lowered its assessment of the economy today and kept its key interest rate at virtually zero to weather a global slowdown, a strong yen and the recent flooding in Thailand. The Bank of Japan's nine-member policy board voted unanimously at a two-day meeting to maintain the overnight call rate target at 0 to 0.1 percent.
     
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