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Friday Afternoon Business Brief

January 31, 2014, 1:22 PM

Friday Afternoon Business Brief

One Wall Street analyst says traders have been "looking for an excuse to sell." Trouble in overseas markets and disappointing financial results from Amazon.com are getting the blame for a steep plunge this morning that saw that Dow lose more than 200 points at the open. But the indexes are recovering much of those losses this afternoon. The Dow was still about 75 points lower, while S&P was off less than 5 points and the Nasdaq less than 10.

  • Consumer sentiment is slipping along with the stock market. The University of Michigan said its index of consumer sentiment dropped 1.3 points to 81.2 this month. However, that's still a healthy level. It's still solidly higher than January of last year. Earlier today, the Commerce Department reported that consumer spending rose 0.4 percent in December, despite no growth in income.
  • Twitter has bought 900 patents from IBM. Twitter said in a November regulatory filing that it received a letter from IBM accusing it of infringing on three of its patents. Today's deal also includes a cross-license agreement. Twitter says the deal will provide it with greater intellectual property protection and freedom to innovate. As a relatively new company, Twitter holds just a handful of patents, while IBM holds more than 41,000.
  • A New York judge has approved the $8.5 billion Bank of America settlement over investor losses from mortgage-backed securities. Critics of the settlement argued that it represented only a fraction of the losses, but State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Kapnick ruled that trustee Bank of New York Mellon "did not abuse its discretion" in entering the agreement and "did not act in bad faith." The claims were against trust creator Countrywide Financial and trust servicer Bank of America, which bought Countrywide in 2008.
  • The Coast Guard says crews are trying to stop natural gas that's flowing from a drilling rig about 100 miles off the Louisiana coast. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement says officials lost control of the rig yesterday. Most crew members were evacuated and no injuries or pollution have been reported. Wild gas wells tend to be less of an environmental threat than blowouts from oil wells.

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