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May 31, 2013 02:27 PM

Friday Afternoon Business Brief

NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks are on track to close out the month with a strong gain, even though they're down today. The Dow Jones industrial average is on track to advance for the sixth month in a row and the S&P 500 index is set to gain for a seventh straight month, its longest winning streak since 2009.

  • A measure of U.S. consumer confidence has jumped to its highest level in almost six years. The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index rose to 84.5 in May, up from 76.4 in April and the highest since July 2007.
  • The trustees overseeing Medicare and Social Security say the programs remain on "unsustainable paths," despite some improvement in the giant hospital trust fund's outlook. They say Medicare will be exhausted in 2026, two years later than previously projected. The date that Social Security is forecast to exhaust its trust fund is unchanged at 2033.
  • OPEC has decided to keep its output target at 30 million barrels a day. Meeting in Vienna today, the oil ministers reached quick agreement on keeping output targets steady. But they deferred solutions on how to deal with surging U.S. shale oil production and internal rivalries denting the organization's image of unity.
  • Dell's largest independent shareholder is urging fellow shareholders to reject a takeover bid led by Dell's founder and CEO. Southeastern Asset Management Inc. says it will provide more details in the near future about an alternative offer it's pitching along with billionaire investor Carl Icahn. Dell's board today announced its support of an offer from Michael Dell and the investment firm Silver Lake Partners to take the company private for $24.4 billion, or $13.65 per share.
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