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January 27, 2015 01:26 PM

Tuesday Afternoon Business Brief

New York

Stocks are recouping some of their morning losses, but they remain sharply lower in afternoon trading. TD Ameritrade chief strategist JJ Kinahan says U.S. companies have been lowering earnings expectations in their quarterly financial reports, and that's driving the sell-off. All 10 sectors in the S&P 500 are down, with technology stocks dropping the most.

  • WASHINGTON (AP) - Consumer confidence is at its highest level since August 2007. The Conference Board reports that its consumer confidence index climbed to 102.9 this month from 93.1 in December.  The survey finds Americans are feeling more optimistic about the job market and about business conditions over the next six months.
     
  • WASHINGTON (AP) - Job opportunities are appearing more plentiful nationwide. The Labor Department say unemployment rates fell in 42 U.S. states last month, and rose in just four states. Job gains remained healthy in states with large oil and gas industries, despite plunging oil prices. Texas gained more than 45,000 jobs in December, the most in the nation. Nationwide, nearly 3 million more Americans are earning paychecks now compared with 12 months ago.
     
  • WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration is floating a plan that for the first time would open up areas off the Atlantic Coast to drilling. The proposal envisions auctioning areas located more than 50 miles off Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia to oil companies come 2021. Meanwhile, the plan also would restrict drilling in environmentally-sensitive areas off Alaska.
     
  • WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal accident investigators say there are systemic weaknesses in the way natural gas providers protect against the rupture of major, high-pressure pipelines in populated areas. They are pointing to three powerful accidents in California, Florida and West Virginia since 2010. The National Transportation Safety Board says in each of the accidents, the gas companies failed to conduct inspections or tests that might have revealed pipeline weaknesses.
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