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Thursday Morning Business Brief

August 14, 2014, 6:19 AM

Thursday Morning Business Brief

Investors appear to be briefly setting aside concerns about Ukraine, Iraq and earnings. There was a modest gain for the stock market yesterday pushing the Dow Jones industrial average back into the black for the year. The S&P 500 rose 13 points to end at 1,946. The Dow gained 91 points to 16,651 and the Nasdaq climbed 45 points to 4,434. Futures point to a lower opening today.

A contraction in Germany's economy and stagnation in France dented European stocks today while Asian markets ended mixed. Benchmark crude oil fell but remained above $97 a barrel. The dollar gained against the euro and the yen.

The government will report the weekly jobless claims number today. Also, Freddie Mac will release the weekly mortgage rates. Two big retailers will report quarterly earnings today. Wal-Mart reports before the market opens and J.C. Penney reports after the market closes.

Foreign retailers are finally beginning to circumvent barriers to entry into the gigantic Indian market. They're pouring billions of dollars into e-commerce ventures, seeing Indian shoppers as the next big thing. Previously the barriers had held back retail powers such as Wal-Mart and Ikea. Online shopping is still in its infancy in India.

It's not good news for the economies of two major European players. France's economy stagnated in the second quarter, showing zero growth. Germany's economy contracted by 0.2 percent. New growth figures coming out later in the day are expected to show the crisis in Ukraine is weighing on the economy of the 18 countries that use the euro.

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