Stock indexes are higher today and appear on track to break a year-opening slump. Health care stocks are leading the gains. UnitedHealth Group has been as much as 4 percent higher, the biggest gain among the 30 stocks in the Dow Jones industrial average. The Dow was up more than 100 points in afternoon trading, while the S&P and the Nasdaq are also higher.
- Legislation to renew jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed has unexpectedly cleared an initial Senate hurdle. The vote was 60-37 to limit debate on the legislation, with a half-dozen Republicans siding with the Democrats. But Senate Republicans say they will work to change the measure so the $6.4 billion cost would not add to deficits. Senate Democratic leaders are indicating some willingness to consider such changes.
- Federal regulators have ordered four companies that sell what the government says are bogus weight loss aids to return about $34 million to consumers. The makers of an additive called Sensa will return more than $26 million to settle charges of using deceptive advertising. The ads claimed that consumers could lose weight by simply sprinkling the powder on their food. Others hit in the action are LeanSpa, which promotes weight loss supplements through fake news websites, skin cream maker L'Occitane and HCG Diet Direct, which sells unproven hormones for weight loss.
- Home video continues to be a growth market. A consortium of Hollywood studios and electronics makers reports spending on home video rose nearly 1 percent to $18.2 billion last year. It's the second straight year of growth as higher spending on video streaming subscriptions and digital purchases offset a decline in DVD sales.
- The head of the Airbus unit that handles business in North America is stepping down. Sean O'Keefe has run the unit since 2009, expanding the Europe-based company's presence in the U.S., including building a factory in Alabama. O'Keefe was injured in a 2010 plane crash in Alaska that killed Sen. Ted Stevens and four other people. Airbus says the 57-year-old O'Keefe is stepping down March 1 "to fully address ongoing medical issues" resulting from his injuries.