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Thursday Morning Business Brief

October 4, 2012, 5:42 AM

Thursday Morning Business Brief

A pair of encouraging economic reports helped nudge stocks higher yesterday, but a steep drop in oil prices and a gloomy outlook from Hewlett-Packard's CEO held things in check. The Dow gained 12 points, the S&P 500 rose 5 and the Nasdaq added 15. Futures trading suggest gains at this morning's opening.

  • A pair of positive U.S. economic reports helped prod Asian stock markets higher today but enthusiasm wilted in Europe ahead of a bond auction in cash-strapped Spain that will test investor appetite. Benchmark crude oil rose but hovered below $89 per barrel after a big decline yesterday. The dollar fell against the euro and was nearly unchanged against the yen.
  • The Commerce Department releases August figures on factory orders. They were up last month, but one key component has been down four out of the past five months feeding concern that business are scaling back investment plans in the face of a slowing global economy. Also today, the Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims numbers.
  • A new report has positive news about delinquent credit card bills - there are fewer of them. The American Bankers Association says the percentage of bank-issued credit cards that were 30 days or more overdue fell to an 11-year low in the second quarter. Consumers are keeping a tighter grip on their finances amid economic uncertainty.
  • Officials say the leaders of France, Italy and Spain will hold a meeting in Malta that is likely to be dominated by economic issues related to Europe's debt crisis. The three will meet tomorrow while attending a Mediterranean summit of southern European and North African countries.

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