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Evening Business Brief

January 31, 2011, 5:29 PM

Evening Business Brief
Thanks to energy stocks pushing indexes higher, the Dow closed up 68 points to 11,892. The broader S&P closed up 10 and the Nasdaq finished up 13. Exxon-Mobil reported its most profitable quarter since 2008. Massey Energy jumped 10 percent after Alpha Natural Resources said it would buy the coal producer in a $7.1 billion deal.
  • An important oil price benchmark topped $100 per barrel today for the first time since 2008. The benchmark for oil prices in Europe and Asia settled at $101.01 a barrel over concerns about violence in Egypt. The U.S. benchmark settled $92.19 a barrel, marking a two-session gain of about 8 percent.
  • A federal judge in Florida says the Obama administration's historic health overhaul is unconstitutional. The ruling sides with 26 states that had sued to block it, saying it violates people's rights by forcing them to buy health insurance by 2014 or face penalties. The case is likely to go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Treasury prices are falling after a report showed that consumer spending is picking up. The Commerce Department says Americans increased their spending in December faster than analysts had predicted. Consumer purchases for all of 2010 rose at their fastest pace in three years.
  • The Federal Reserve says banks somewhat loosened their lending standards for certain business loans over the past three months but kept tight standards on consumer loans. The easing is attributed to a less uncertain economic outlook and increased competition from other banks to make business loans.

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