Investors on Wall Street are finding plenty to cheer about from Washington today. There's word that the House is poised to vote on raising the debt limit this evening without the political drama over a possible default that happened last year. Investors are also welcoming new Fed Chair Janet Yellen's comments at a House hearing that she expects a "great deal of continuity" in policy with her predecessor. The Dow was up about 180 points in afternoon trading, while the S&P and the Nasdaq are both close to one percent higher.
- Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is telling lawmakers there's more left to do to restore the economy to health after the last recession. Testifying before the House Financial Services Committee, Yellen says the recovery in the labor market "is far from complete," suggesting that the Fed will keep its key short-term rate near zero for a prolonged period. But Yellen also says if the economy continues strengthening, as the Fed has forecast, the central bank will continue reducing its monthly bond purchases.
- House Speaker John Boehner says the House will vote on a measure increasing the government's borrowing limit that's free of any add-ons. Boehner announced the plan after a poll of the Republican rank and file failed to show enough support for a plan to tie the hike in the debt limit to a plan to reverse a recently passed cut to military pensions. A vote is expected this evening.
- The Labor Department says employers posted fewer job openings in December and hiring slowed. Still, the number of available jobs remained near a five and a-half-year high, at just under 4 million. Job openings are mostly back to pre-recession levels, but hiring is below the roughly 5 million a month that's typical for a healthy market.
- A coalition of the nation's leading technology firms is pressing for changes in the government's surveillance programs. Top executives from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, AOL, LinkedIn and Twitter have sent a letter to President Barack Obama and members of Congress urging more limits on collections of Americans' data and greater oversight and transparency about the secret operations. The companies' action coincides with a day of protests against the Obama administration's surveillance policies.