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Tuesday Afternoon Business Brief

December 17, 2013, 1:20 PM

Tuesday Afternoon Business Brief

Stocks have been lower for most of the day, on the first day of the Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting. Investors will find out tomorrow whether the Fed will start to trim back its huge bond-buying program. The recent budget deal in Washington, and a strong jobs report, have added to speculation that the Fed might start to do so.

  • European finance ministers are beginning two days of emergency meetings aimed at achieving agreement on more centralized control over banks. Ministers from the 17 countries that use the euro currency are gathering in Brussels for talks this evening. Tomorrow, they will be joined by ministers from the 11 other European Union nations.
  • Economists believe the growing gap between the richest Americans and everyone else is hurting the U.S. economy. That's the view of a majority of more than three dozen economists surveyed by The Associated Press. A key source of the economists' concern: Higher pay and stock market gains are flowing mainly to affluent Americans. Yet these households spend less of their money than do low- and middle-income consumers who make up most of the population.
  • Microsoft expects to finish its search for CEO Steve Ballmer's replacement by early next year. Board director John Thompson, who heads the company's executive search committee, said so in a blog post today. Ballmer said in August he would retire within 12 months. Thompson said the committee initially identified over 100 candidates, spoke with several dozen, whittled the group to 20 and then narrowed the list further. He said the company's full board has also been involved in the discussion.
  • Pfizer says it reached a settlement with Teva Pharmaceuticals that allows the generic drugmaker to launch a copycat version of its popular drug Viagra in 2017. Pfizer says Teva will pay an undisclosed royalty for a license to produce a generic version of Viagra, one of Pfizer's best-selling drugs. Viagra generated about $1.14 billion in U.S. sales last year.

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