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March 22, 2012 02:30 PM

Thursday Afternoon Business Brief

Wall Street's key stock market averages opened lower and have remained in negative territory today. Investors are concerned about fresh signs that economies stretching from Europe to China are slowing.

  • Canadian proponents of TransCanada's Keystone pipeline are applauding President Barack Obama's directive to expedite the approval process for the southern leg of the pipeline.  They also urged the U.S. president to approve the northern leg. The U.S. State Department has yet to make a decision on the entire length of the proposed pipeline, saying it needs more time to conduct a thorough environmental review of a new route around an environmentally sensitive aquifer in Nebraska. 
  • The Senate is set for final congressional action on a scaled-down bill to prohibit members of Congress, the president and thousands of other federal workers from profiting from private information learned on the job. Senate leaders agreed to allow the insider trading bill to win approval by voice vote.
  • A measure of future U.S. economic activity rose in February for the fifth straight month, fresh evidence that the economy is gaining momentum. The Conference Board says its index of leading economic indicators rose 0.7 percent in February, after a 0.2 percent increase in January. 
  • The lowest of the low mortgage interest rates could be gone. The average U.S. rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage rose above 4 percent for the first time in five months. Freddie Mac says the average for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages edged up to 4.08 percent, up from 3.92 percent in the previous week.
  • Business
  • Economy/Stocks

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