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Thursday Morning Business Brief

January 2, 2014, 5:39 AM

Thursday Morning Business Brief

It's the first day of trading in 2014 and investors are hoping the stock market will climb even higher after closing out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday. The S&P 500 rose seven points to 1,848 before the holiday break. The Dow rose 72 points to 16,576. And the Nasdaq rose 22 points to close out 2013 at 4,176.

  • International stock markets have been mixed today and a few remain closed for a holiday. Investors showed concern when Chinese manufacturing data suggested the world's second-largest economy might be slowing. The dollar gained against the euro and the yen. Oil prices rose nearer to $99 a barrel.
  • Investors will be looking closely at several economic reports today. They're hoping to glean from them if the U.S. economy is on the right track for the new year. The government's weekly jobless claims number is likely to carry the most weight. There are three other reports today. They deal with November construction spending, December manufacturing and weekly mortgage rates.
  • The so-called "young invincibles" are so important to the success of the Affordable Care Act that supporters and detractors are spending millions to reach them with racy ads, social media campaigns and celebrity endorsements. The president is even asking their mothers to help convince them to sign up for insurance. The federal government and states running their own exchanges have launched marketing efforts for this crucial demographic of healthy young adults, but it's unclear if the messages are getting through.
  • Ford plans to unveil at this month's International CES gadget show a solar-powered concept car that offers the same performance as a plug-in hybrid but without the need for a plug. The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept car uses a gasoline engine combined with a gizmo that acts like a magnifying glass to concentrate the sun's rays on the vehicle's roof-mounted solar panels. It also has a plug-in receptacle. The automaker says the vehicle's estimated combined city-highway mileage is 100 mpg.

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