Stocks have turned higher in afternoon trading. The stock market started lower after weekend negotiations over the government shutdown and raising the debt ceiling appeared to make little progress. But as the tone out of Washington turned more hopeful today, shares started rising. The Dow was up about 40 points by mid-afternoon, while the broader indexes are also rising.
- The Senate's Democratic and Republican leaders are both expressing optimism that they are closing in on an agreement to prevent a national financial default and reopen the government after a two-week partial shutdown. They spoke after what Republican leader Mitch McConnell termed "a couple of very useful discussions." Officials in both parties said House and Senate negotiators would be appointed to seek a deficit-reduction agreement that could ease or eliminate a new round of automatic spending cuts set to take effect in January.
- Economists warn that a U.S. debt default would have devastating consequences for the U.S. and the global economy, and Warren Buffett likens it to a nuclear attack. Despite that, most investors don't appear to be doing much to prepare for it. While some institutions, including JP Morgan and Fidelity Investments, have sold off their short-term U.S. Treasurys, many analysts are echoing the sentiment of European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi, who said over the weekend it's "unthinkable that an agreement won't be found."
- The Nobel prize for economics has gone to three American professors for separate research that expanded the understanding of asset prices. Eugene Fama and Lars Peter Hansen teach at the University of Chicago, while Robert Shiller is a professor at Yale University and is well-known for creating the Case-Shiller index of home prices. The three economists' work shed light on how stock, bond and house prices move over time - work that's changed how people around the world invest.
- Insurance regulators are taking action to halt misleading practices as the health insurance marketplaces get up and running. New Hampshire's insurance commissioner sent a cease-and-desist letter last week to an Arizona company he accused of building a website that could mislead health care coverage shoppers into thinking it was the official New Hampshire marketplace. Regulators in Washington state and Pennsylvania also have told private agents to alter websites for similar reason.