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January 16, 2015 01:27 PM

Friday Afternoon Business Brief

NEW YORK (AP) - Oil and gas companies are fueling gains on Wall Street, setting up the market for its first gain in more than a week. The long drop in crude prices paused today after the International Energy Agency cut its estimate of oil production from countries outside OPEC. Oil's slide has cut its price by more than half since last June. Some investors and analysts worry that a seven-month slump in oil prices reflects weaker demand for energy around the world.

  • Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner - who oversaw the rocky rollout of the president's health care law - says she's stepping down at the end of February. Tavenner says she's leaving with "sadness and mixed emotions." She survived the 2013 technology meltdown of HealthCare.gov, but was embarrassed last fall when she testified to Congress that 7.3 million people were enrolled for coverage. That turned out to be an overcount that exaggerated the total by about 400,000.
  • Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs reports a 10 percent drop in fourth-quarter earnings, hurt by a fall in trading activity. The bank earned $2.03 billion for the three-month period ending in December. That compares with a profit of $2.25 billion in the same period a year earlier. Total revenues reached $7.69 billion, down from $8.78 billion a year ago.
  • Russian markets and the ruble were stable today as the Standard & Poor's rating agency said it would not announce a change in its credit rating for Russia until late January. Standard & Poor's was widely expected to downgrade Russia's credit rating to "junk" for the first time in more than a decade. Several agencies have cut Russia's credit rating in recent months as its economy worsens under the twin pressures of Western sanctions and declining oil prices. The ruble has lost about half its value against the dollar since early 2014.
  • Authorities in Britain have arrested an 18-year-old man accused of computer hacking related to days of disruption on Sony's PlayStation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live services last year. Police say he was also arrested in connection with false threats in the United States - a practice known as "swatting," or providing false information suggesting that a threat exists so that police respond with SWAT teams.
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