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Thursday Morning Business Brief

December 26, 2013, 5:43 AM

Thursday Morning Business Brief

There are four trading days left in 2013 -- a historic year for stock investors. Going into today, there've been five straight days of market gains. An unexpectedly large increase in orders for manufactured goods pushed stock prices higher during the half-day of trading on Christmas Eve. The Dow climbed 63 points. The S&P 500 rose five. And the Nasdaq was up 6 ½ points.

  • The big market mover today is likely to be the latest government unemployment claims report. Also scheduled for release today is the weekly mortgage rate report from Freddie Mac.
  • Oil prices edged up above $99 today, the first trading day after Christmas, as violence in South Sudan stoked concerns about the country's oil production. Benchmark U.S. oil for February delivery was up 17 cents to $99.39 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract inched up 31 cents to close at $99.22 on pre-Christmas Tuesday after briefly dropping below $99.
  • Shipping problems at UPS and FedEx prevented some Christmas gifts from arriving on time. The delays were blamed on poor weather earlier this week in parts of the country as well as overloaded systems. The holiday shopping period this year was shorter than usual, more buying was done online and Americans' tendency to wait until the last possible second to shop probably didn't help either.
  • A Chinese state news agency says the Cabinet has estimated this year's economic growth edged down to 7.6 percent and warned that it faces pressure to decline further. The Xinhua News Agency cited a Cabinet report to China's legislature that said growth declined from 7.7 percent in 2012. That was above the ruling Communist Party's target of 7 percent growth in its latest five-year development plan.

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