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Thursday Morning Business Brief

March 6, 2014, 5:35 AM

Thursday Morning Business Brief

The stock market may be settling down. After two days of volatile trading, the market calmed yesterday. The S&P 500 traded within a range of about five points for the whole day, before ending a fraction lower. The index fell less than 0.1 percent to 1,873. The Dow dropped nearly 36 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,360. The Nasdaq rose six points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,357. Futures point to gains this morning.

  • International stock markets rose today ahead of a monthly policy meeting of the European Central Bank. Easing tensions in the Ukraine kept markets stable after their recent bout of volatility. The dollar gained against the yen and was little changed against the euro. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell but remained above $101 a barrel.
  • Investors will focus on the government's weekly jobless claims number today. Other government reports that should be of interest include fourth-quarter productivity data and January's factory orders. Also, Freddie Mac will release weekly mortgage rates. Several chain retailers release February sales comparisons today, and Kroger and H&R Block report earnings.
  • The CEO of a virtual currency exchange was found dead in her home in Singapore. A police spokesman says today that initial investigations indicated there was no suspicion of "foul play," meaning officers do not suspect murder. The spokesman said 28-year-old Autumn Radtke First Meta, an American, was found dead in Feb. 26. Police have so far classified the death as "unnatural." First Meta allows users of virtual currencies such as bitcoin to trade and cash out the currencies. The future of bitcoin has been under scrutiny since the collapse of the Mt. Gox exchange in Tokyo last month.
  • China's finance minister says creating jobs is a bigger priority this year than strictly meeting economic growth goals. The economic target announced this week is "about 7.5 percent," and the official says that could mean lower actual growth. At a news conference during the annual meeting of China's legislature, the minister says jobs are the most important factor.

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