Stocks appear to be regaining some of the ground lost this morning, as traders assess a couple of economic reports pointing in different directions. The Institute for Supply Management says its service-sector index dropped to 53 last month, though that still indicates growth. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reports factory orders climbed in November, led by a surge in aircraft demand and businesses investing in machinery, computers and other long-lasting goods.
- Men's Wearhouse is raising its offer for Jos. A. Bank Clothiers and taking the bid directly to its rival's shareholders. Jos. A. Bank says it is reviewing the $1.61 billion offer, or $57.50 per share, and will make a recommendation to shareholders by Jan. 17. While each chain has rejected offers from the other, analysts say a combination of Men's Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank appears inevitable.
- AT&T says it's setting up a "1-800" service for wireless data. Websites that pay for the service will be toll-free for AT&T's wireless customers, meaning the traffic won't count against a surfer's monthly allotment of data. AT&T is the first major cellphone company to create a comprehensive service for sponsored wireless access in the U.S.
- Microsoft says it has sold more than 3 million Xbox Ones. Microsoft says demand for the video game console has been strong since its November launch, selling out in many stores throughout the holidays.
- Boeing says it delivered a record 648 planes last year, including 65 of its 787s. Battery problems halted work on the 787 for four months in 2013, but Boeing was able to step up the pace once deliveries resumed in May. It handed over 25 of the jets during the final quarter of last year. The total put Boeing ahead of Europe's Airbus, which has said it expected to deliver about 600 jets for the year.