About two-thirds of the companies that have published third-quarter earnings so far have exceeded analysts' expectations, and that continues to lift the stock market. The S&P 500 index remains at a record level. It's modestly higher in afternoon trading, as are the Dow and the Nasdaq.
- Consumer Reports' vehicle reliability rankings are out. Three Japanese brands - Lexus, Toyota and Acura - top this year's survey, but three non-Japanese brands have cracked the top 10. They are Audi, Volvo and GMC. As for specific vehicles, the 2014 Subaru Forester gets the top score for predicted reliability. Meanwhile the magazine has dropped the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord V6 and Nissan Altima sedans from its recommended buys.
- Medicare beneficiaries are getting some welcome news. The "Part B" premium most seniors pay for outpatient care will stay the same in 2014, at $104.90 a month. And, the Part B deductible will also remain the same at $147. Monthly premiums paid by upper-income beneficiaries will also stay unchanged. However, Medicare says the hospital care deductible is going up by $32, to $1,216.
- Burger King says its new lower-calorie french fries have been attracting customers who otherwise would not have chosen to eat at Burger King. "Satisfries" have 20 percent fewer calories than Burger King's regular fries because of a batter that absorbs less oil. That and other promotions helped move Burger King into a positive sales territory this month, after seeing a third quarter drop of 0.3 percent.
- The luxury goods market has seen double-digit growth in the past few years, despite a sluggish global economy. But today there's word that sales appear to be slowing. Bain & Company estimates sales of luxury items this year at $300 billion, just a 2 percent increase over 2012. The United States remains the world's largest luxury market by far, followed by Japan and Italy. China is expected to pass France into fourth place this year.