- Talk of more deal-making is sending stock prices higher on Wall Street, setting the market up to continue a seven-week rally. Reports that retailers Office Depot and OfficeMax are discussing a merger come after several big corporate deals were announced in recent weeks. Some investors are betting that more deals could be on the way as buyers pay premium prices for publicly traded companies.
- More than five years after Google's stock first hit $700 a share, it has now topped $800 for the first time. Google stock tumbled with the rest of the economy, but it's been climbing back on the strength of its Internet search engine, its YouTube video site and its Android software. It's up about 35 percent since co-founder Larry Page replaced Eric Schmidt as CEO in April 2011.
- Health insurance stocks are wobbling after data released by the federal government pointed to possible steep Medicare Advantage payment cuts in 2014. Analysts who follow the industry say those cuts could filter down to Medicare Advantage customers in the form of premium hikes, reduced benefits or fewer choices. Medicare Advantage plans are privately run versions of the government's Medicare program that covers the elderly and disabled.
- A federal judge has approved Transocean's agreement with the Justice Department to pay $1 billion in civil penalties for its role in the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Last week, a different judge approved Transocean's criminal settlement with the federal government. It pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and will pay an additional $400 million in criminal penalties.
- European lawmakers are proposing to tighten the bloc's cap-and-trade system to make carbon dioxide pollution more expensive. The European Parliament's environment committee today voted in favor of a change that would allow the EU Commission, the bloc's executive arm, to tighten the supply of pollution rights. If it the decision clears another parliamentary hurdle next week, the EU's 27 governments could possibly decide on it in March.
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