Federal Reserve policymakers have begun their latest meeting, and investors are expecting they'll extend the Fed's aggressive economic stimulus program after a partial government shutdown that's rattled consumer confidence and likely crimped growth. The Dow is up about 100 points in afternoon trading, while the S&P 500 was solidly higher, and the Nasdaq composite is also in positive territory.
- The Conference Board says confidence in the economy is sagging. The group's index dropped to 71.2 in October, down from 80.2 the previous month. It's the lowest level since April. The report says many Americans are worried about the impact of the 16-day partial government shutdown and feeling pessimistic about the economy's health six months from now.
- U.S. businesses increased stockpiles in August. The Commerce Department says inventories rose 0.3 percent compared with July. That's typically a sign that companies expect demand for their products to grow. At the same time, sales also rose 0.3 percent. Businesses had slowed stockpiling earlier this year.
- The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program says the government expects to lose $9.7 billion on its bailout of General Motors. The federal government spent $49.5 billion to save GM five years ago, acquiring 61 percent of the company's stock. In a report to Congress, the watchdog says the government has recovered $34.5 billion after selling off all but 7 percent of the investment. The remaining shares would have to sell for $148 each for the government to break even. GM stock is trading around $36 today.
- British Prime Minister David Cameron says he wants London to "stand alongside Dubai" as one of the world's "great capitals of Islamic finance." Cameron today announced the launch of a new Islamic Market Index on the London Stock Exchange along with plans to issue an Islamic bond. Islamic finance is relatively small in the world of global finance, but it is expected to grow. It conforms to Islamic law which forbids charging interest and requires deals to be based on tangible assets. Speculation is banned, as is dealing in futures.