Investors are hoping the stock market gets into gear today after taking a pause yesterday. Traders are trying to figure out their next move now that the Federal Reserve has decided to hold steady on its economic stimulus. On Thursday, the S&P 500 index fell three points and the Dow Jones industrial average slipped 40. But the Nasdaq composite index rose six points. Based on futures trading, Wall Street appeared headed for a lower opening.
- International stock markets fell today, two days after the Fed announced it would keep its unprecedented stimulus in place. Public holidays kept trading muted in Asia where a number of exchanges were closed. Benchmark crude oil rose above $106 per barrel. The dollar gained against the euro but was unchanged against the yen.
- The House Republican version of a stopgap funding bill to avert a government shutdown will also seek to gut the health care overhaul. A House vote is scheduled today. Senate Democrats say the bill will go nowhere once it passes the House and the administration promises a veto. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama heads to the heartland today to press his case over spending and the government's borrowing authority. He says Congress mustn't jeopardize fragile economic progress.
- European Union finance officials have reached a preliminary agreement to change the way the bloc determines some deficit figures, which might lessen the pressure for austerity measures in crisis-hit economies. An EU official says the change to the calculation of the structural deficit would have "very significant" positive consequences for Spain because of its labor market structure, and somewhat less so for Ireland, Greece and Portugal.
- New Zealand's government expects to raise up to $1.8 billion by selling nearly half of the country's largest power company, the state-owned Meridian Energy. The share offer is the centerpiece of a contentious government asset sales policy. The center-right government says the proceeds will help reduce New Zealand's public debt and pay for hospitals, schools and roads. Opponents have likened the program to selling the family silver.