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Thursday Evening Business Brief

January 19, 2012, 5:37 PM

Thursday Evening Business Brief
Stock prices closed higher on Wall Street. The Dow added 45 points, or 0.4 percent, to 12,624. The S&P was up 6 points to 1,315, while the Nasdaq rose nearly 19 points to 2,788.
  • President Barack Obama, making an appearance in Florida ahead of the state's Jan. 31 Republican presidential primary, announced an initiative to make it easier for foreign tourists to travel to the U.S. Part of an executive order he signed, the goal is to boost non-immigrant visa processing capacity in China and Brazil by 40 percent this year; expand a Visa Waiver Program that allows participating nationals to travel to the U.S. for stays of 90 days or less without a visa; appoint a new group of chief executives to the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board; and direct a task force to develop recommendations for a National Travel and Tourism Strategy, including promoting national parks and other sites.
  • The Labor Department says consumer prices were flat last month, indicating that inflation remains tame. Lower gas prices offset rising costs for food, medical care and housing.
  • Megaupload.com, one of the world's largest file-sharing sites has been shut down. Its founder and several company executives have been charged with violating piracy laws.  The federal government's indictment accuses Megaupload.com of costing copyright holders more than $500 million in lost revenue from pirated films and other content.
  • Even with a series of reports pointing to an improving economy, benchmark oil settled a little lower. Near-month crude fell 20 cents to finish at $100.39 per barrel in New York.

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