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Thursday Morning Business Brief

February 27, 2014, 5:40 AM

Thursday Morning Business Brief

Investors still appear reluctant to push stocks higher before they see more evidence of economic growth. For a third straight day the S&P 500 traded above its record close but fell back. The index edged up a fraction of a point yesterday to 1,845, three points short of its record high close on Jan. 15. The Dow rose 19 points to 16,198. The Nasdaq was up four points to 4,292. Futures point to gains this morning.

  • International stock markets were muted today as investors awaited cues from the Federal Reserve chief's testimony to lawmakers. Janet Yellen, the new head of the Federal Reserve, appears before the U.S. Senate's Banking Committee later today. The dollar gained against the euro and fell against the yen. Benchmark U.S. crude oil slipped but was above $102.50 a barrel.
  • The government reports weekly jobless claims today and January's durable goods numbers. Also today, Freddie Mac will release the weekly mortgage rates and three large retailers will report quarterly financial results. Sears Holdings and Best Buy report earnings before the market opens; Gap reports after the closing bell.
  • The U.S. government's auto safety watchdog is investigating whether General Motors acted quickly enough to recall 1.6 million older-model small cars in a case linked to 13 deaths. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that it opened the probe "to determine whether GM properly followed the legal processes and requirements for reporting recalls." The agency has the authority to fine GM as much as $35 million.
  • Spain's National Statistics Institute says the economy grew a smaller-than-expected 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared with the previous three-month period. The figure released today revised earlier predictions of 0.3 percent growth. The institute confirmed that economic activity shrank 1.2 percent for the whole of 2013. Spain, which has a 26 percent unemployment rate, emerged from recession in the third quarter of last year after nine quarters of decline.

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