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Friday Morning Business Brief

March 21, 2014, 5:41 AM

Friday Morning Business Brief

It's springtime on Wall Street and investors are feeling good. Signs that the U.S. economy is emerging from a winter chill drove major stock indexes higher yesterday. Traders were encouraged by an increase in manufacturing and a rise in a key index of economic indicators. The S&P 500 rose 11 points. The Dow gained 109 points and the Nasdaq climbed 12 points. Futures point to continued gains this morning.

  • International stock markets bounced back today as upbeat U.S. economic data helped shake off worries about future increases in U.S. interest rates. The dollar edged ahead against the euro with the dollar dipped against the yen. Benchmark crude oil fell to just above $98.50 a barrel.
  • The consequences of Russia's Crimea policy may be extending beyond the condemnations and individual sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union. Fitch is the second credit rating agency in as many days to put Russia on warning that it may be downgraded. Russia's stocks took a pounding today.
  • The European Union wants to clamp down on tax fraud and tax evasion. And member states have agreed on a sweeping policy to do just that. It comes after tiny Luxembourg dropped its reservations to new rules which render its secretive banking culture more transparent. The EU is proposing an automatic exchange of data on bank deposits that would allow nations to identify and pursue tax evaders.
  • Turkey is blocking access to Twitter over wiretapped recordings that appear to incriminate the Turkish leader and other top officials in high-level corruption. The block began after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to "rip out the roots" of the social media network. A top European official calls the ban "cowardly."

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