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Thursday Afternoon Business Brief

March 20, 2014, 1:39 PM

Thursday Afternoon Business Brief

The stock market is higher on more encouraging news about the U.S. economy. Among the positive data is the Conference Board index of leading indicators, which rose 0.5 percent in February. Also today, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia says manufacturing rebounded in its region in March as new orders increased. The Dow has been as much as 130 points higher, while the S&P 500 was up more than 10 points and the Nasdaq composite up close to 20 in afternoon trading.

  • Credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's has lowered its outlook for Russia to negative, citing the risk of U.S. and European economic sanctions. S&P says Russia's move to annex Crimea could also reduce investment, cause investors to pull money out of the country, and reduce overall economic performance. The negative outlook means S&P could cut Russia's credit rating within the next 24 months.
  • Three Princeton University economists have documented the bleak outlook for Americans who have been unemployed for more than six months. Their study finds just 11 percent of the long-term jobless will ever regain steady full-time work. The long-term jobless number 3.8 million, or 37 percent of all unemployed Americans.
  • The Arkansas Supreme Court has overturned a $1.2 billion judgment against Johnson & Johnson in a lawsuit challenging the drugmaker's marketing of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal. The court ruled that the state improperly sued under a law that applies to health care facilities, not pharmaceutical companies. Arkansas sued the drugmaker and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals saying they didn't properly communicate the drug's risks.
  • Starbucks plans to turn more of its cafes into a destination for beer and wine in the evenings. The coffee company says it is looking to expand alcohol sales to "thousands of select stores" over the next several years. The chain first offered beer and wine at one of its Seattle cafes in 2010. It's now in about 26 cafes, with plans to reach 40 by the end of the year.

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