Rising factory output and Larry Summers' withdrawal from fed chief consideration have sent stocks rising. The president is expected to nominate Ben Bernanke's successor as early as this month. The new front-runner is Janet Yellen, the Fed's vice chair. Stocks were also helped by news that U.S. factory output rose 0.7 percent in August, the most in eight months.
- When the Federal Reserve meets Wednesday, it's expected to take its first step toward reducing the stimulus it's supplied to help the U.S. economy rebound from its deepest crisis since the Great Depression. Has the economy strengthened enough to withstand the pullback? The answer might not be clear for months.
- President Barack Obama has given congressional Republicans a blistering warning, saying it would be the "height of irresponsibility" for lawmakers to cause a new economic crisis just five years after the near-collapse of the nation's financial system. Some of those Republicans say they'll vote to extend current spending levels or to increase the nation's debt ceiling only if Obama delays putting his health care law in place. Obama rejects that idea. Others say scheduled spending cuts should stay in place to reduce the deficit. The president would like to see the cuts reworked.
- Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates remains the richest man in America, according to Forbes. He returns to the top spot for the 20th year with a net worth of $72 billion. Warren Buffet is a distant second with $58.5 billion. While most of the top names and rankings didn't change from a year ago, the majority of the elite club's members saw their fortunes grow over the past year, helped by strong stock and real estate markets.
- The gap in employment rates between America's highest- and lowest-income families has stretched to its widest levels since officials began tracking the data a decade ago. Unemployment rates for families earning less than $20,000 have topped 21 percent, nearly matching the rate for all workers during the 1930s Great Depression. Meanwhile, middle-income workers are increasingly pushed into lower-wage jobs, displacing lower-skilled, low-income workers.