Wall Street starts the day after barely moving on Wednesday. The Dow industrials edged up 21 points to close at 12,418. That's in sharp contrast to the first trading day of 2012, in which the Dow jumped 180 points. The S&P 500 index and Nasdaq also had big gains on Tuesday, but only moved a fraction of a point on Wednesday. Futures trading suggests a lower opening.
- International stock markets are mostly lower today as renewed worries over Europe's banking system and a strong yen weighed on investor sentiment. Asian markets were somewhat mixed while European stocks drifted downward in early trading. Benchmark crude oil fell below $103 per barrel.
- We'll get the latest figures on weekly jobless claims from the Labor Department this morning. The Institute for Supply Management releases its service sector index for December 2011. Freddie Mac releases its weekly mortgage rates. Selected chain retailers will report on their December sales comparisons.
- President Barack Obama is looking to boost summer job prospects for kids. The White House says that with help from the private sector, it's gotten commitments for nearly 180,000 youth employment opportunities for next summer and is aiming for tens of thousands more. Obama says the government must do everything it can to make sure youth have opportunities to learn skills and a work ethic.
- France has raised $10.31 billion in a bond auction with solid demand but was forced to pay slightly higher interest rates. Most of the bonds sold today were 10-year notes, which markets eye as a benchmark of investor confidence. Investors were closely watching the auction because of concerns that Europe's financial crisis could spread to core countries like France.
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