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Monday Morning Business Brief

March 31, 2014, 8:40 AM

Monday Morning Business Brief

It's a new week on Wall Street and investors are hoping the stock market will continue to climb higher. The major indexes closed up on Friday after a positive report on U.S. consumer spending. But the gains were modest. The Dow rose 59 points to 16,323. The S&P 500 edged up 8 ½ points to 1,857. And the Nasdaq rose just 4 ½ points to 4,155. Futures point to extended gains this morning.

  • International stock markets were mostly higher today on expectations China and Japan will take new steps to spur economic growth. Benchmark crude oil fell to just above $101.50 a barrel. The dollar gained against the yen and fell against the euro.
  • This week's economic data includes the March jobs report. It's scheduled for release on Friday and it will most likely affect the stock market. Economists expect the U.S. economy created 200,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate remained steady at 6.6 percent. Tomorrow, automakers will release vehicle sales for March.
  • The fiercest rivalry in the world of smartphones is heading back to court this week in the heart of the Silicon Valley, with Apple and Samsung accusing each other, once again, of ripping off designs and features. The trial will mark the latest round in a long-running series of lawsuits between the two tech giants that underscore a much larger concern about what is allowed to be patented. The latest Apple-Samsung case will be tried less than two years after a federal jury found Samsung was infringing on Apple patents. Samsung is appealing and has been allowed to continue selling products using the technology.
  • There's a big sale on in Japan today as retailers try to lure customers ahead of a sales tax hike tomorrow. Economists expect the hike to slow but not derail Japan's economic recovery. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's strategy to pull Japan out of its two-decade economic slump has been to get consumers and businesses spending money. But wages have not risen, and the rising cost of living seems to be triggering more belt-tightening.

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