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December 23, 2013 01:41 PM

Monday Afternoon Business Brief

Stocks have been climbing higher at the start of a slow holiday trading week. Big movers have included Darden Restaurants, which is up 6 percent after activist investor Starboard Value took a stake in the company. The Dow was up about 70 points in afternoon trading, while the S&P is close to 9 points higher and the Nasdaq up about 35.

  • The Obama administration has effectively extended today's deadline for health insurance sign-ups by one day. The federal agency overseeing the health care overhaul urges people wanting to get coverage by Jan. 1 not to wait until tomorrow. It says the grace period is being offered to accommodate people from different time zones and to deal with any technical problems that might result from a last-minute rush of applicants. Meanwhile, the White House says President Barack Obama signed up for health insurance through the Washington, D.C., marketplace over the weekend.
  • Men's Wearhouse isn't giving up on efforts to acquire Jos. A. Bank, despite its rival's rejection of a takeover offer today. Men's Wearhouse says it will continue to look at all options "to make this combination a reality." That may include launching a proxy battle. Men's Wearhouse says it could nominate director candidates at Jos. A. Bank's next annual meeting. Jos. A. Bank offered to buy its larger rival in September.
  • The recent spread of casino gambling in the Northeast has claimed its first victim in New Jersey. A federal bankruptcy judge today approved the sale and shutdown of the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. The casino, which opened in 1980 as the Golden Nugget, will shut its doors Jan. 13. Tropicana and Caesars will buy the casino for $23.4 million, and essentially strip it for parts.
  • Headphones, speakers and other audio gear are topping the holiday gift lists of many Americans this year. The research firm NPD Group says audio equipment accounts for 13 percent of the $8 billion in consumer electronics sales between Nov. 24 and Dec. 7. Headphone sales rose 14 percent, sound bar sales grew 80 percent, and streaming speaker sales nearly quadrupled as Americans look to squeeze better sound out of the tablets, smartphones and TVs they've been buying the last several years.
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