Wall Street appears quite optimistic that the U.S. economy is getting stronger. Stocks are track for their best weekly gain in seven weeks. There have been a number of encouraging economic reports this week. The S&P 500 only fell two points yesterday after closing at an all-time high Wednesday. The Dow fell a half a point and the Nasdaq dropped 39 points. Futures point to moderate gains this morning.
- International stock markets were largely muted today, though European stocks opened with modest gains in early trading after the European Central Bank refrained from further easing of monetary policy and investors looked to the upcoming U.S. jobs report for a new trading cue. Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose to just under $101 a barrel. The dollar gained against the euro and fell against the yen.
- The government's much-anticipated monthly jobs report is scheduled for release today. A survey by FactSet suggests economists project that employers added 191,000 workers in March. That would certainly be an improvement from February, when employers added 175,000 positions.
- The Navajo Nation now has its best chance yet to address what has been a source of heartache for families -- the issue of uranium mining waste in the mountains of northeastern Arizona. The federal government says it has reached a $5.15 billion settlement with Anadarko Petroleum Corp. for the cleanup of thousands of long-contaminated sites nationwide. About $1 billion will go to the 50 sites on the country's largest American Indian reservation.
- The former licensee for clothing maker Ecko Unltd. is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. According to court filings, MEE Apparel and Mee Direct, which sell clothing under the brand names Ecko Unltd. and Unltd., say they have about $30 million in assets and $62 million in debt. The youth-focused lifestyle brand says sales and profitability have been declining since the start of 2009 because of the recession and changes in fashion trends.