Stronger earnings coming from Goldman Sachs, Mattel and Coca-Cola have helped investors to send stock prices higher today. Stocks have been taking a beating this week between worries about global growth and signs of weakness for the U.S. economy.
- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says Europe's financial crisis and the looming "fiscal cliff" in the U.S. are the biggest risks facing the nation's economy. Bernanke told members of the Senate Banking Committee that central bankers are continuing to look at whether economic momentum is slowing sufficiently to warrant new steps to boost growth. He also urged lawmakers again to work to head off the combination of tax hikes and spending cuts, which he said could result in a recession.
- The chief compliance officer of big international bank HSBC says he is stepping down from that position after an investigation found that lax controls at the bank allowed Mexican drug cartels to launder billions of dollars through its U.S. operation and other illicit transactions. David Bagley, the head of compliance for the London-based bank told a Senate panel that he will leave that post but remain as an employee of HSBC.
- The European Commission says it is investigating whether Microsoft has kept the antitrust commitments it made in 2009, and warns that penalties for non-compliance would be "severe." Microsoft concedes it has "fallen short" of its obligation to provide the "browser choice screen." That would allow Windows users to pick a browser other than Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
- Fun financial times for Mattel. Strong demand for doll brands including Barbie, American Girl and Monster High, coupled with lower sales costs and advertising expenses, helped the biggest U.S. toy maker's profit rise in the latest quarter, topping estimates.