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July 18, 2013 01:30 PM

Thursday Afternoon Business Brief

Strong corporate earnings gains and a couple of encouraging economic reports have pushed stocks back to record levels. The Dow was off its high of the day but still up about 80 in afternoon trading. The S&P 500 was also about 0.5 percent higher. The Nasdaq's gains are relatively small, but the tech-heavy index is in positive territory.

  • In what could be his final report to Congress as Fed chief, Ben Bernanke says the central bank's efforts to boost the economy remain tied to the health of the job market and inflation. Appearing before the Senate Banking Committee, Bernanke also says Congress could do more to help but has chosen instead to focus on reducing the federal deficit. He says tax increases and spending cuts could end up reducing economic growth by 1.5 percent this year.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia says its index of regional manufacturing activity jumped to 19.8 in July. That's up from 12.5 in June and the fastest pace in more than two years. The jump follows an increase in manufacturing in the New York region, suggesting factories may help support economic growth in the second half of the year.
  • The Conference Board's index of leading indicators held steady in June at 95.3. The flat reading follows two months of increases and suggests modest growth in the coming months. Positives, such as higher consumer confidence and fewer applications for jobless benefits, were offset by last month's decline in stock prices and a drop in building permits.
  • Air accident investigators in Britain are recommending that all Honeywell emergency transmitters be temporarily disabled on Boeing 787s following a fire last week at London's Heathrow Airport. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch says the greatest damage to the parked Ethiopian Airlines Dreamliner was around the aircraft's emergency transmitter. It's not clear if the fire was caused by the transmitter's batteries or a short near or around the transmitter.
  • Business
  • Economy/Stocks

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