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Tuesday Afternoon Business Brief

April 15, 2014, 1:48 PM

Tuesday Afternoon Business Brief
  • Stocks are swinging up in afternoon trading. After adding nearly 100 points in the opening minutes only to drop as much as 110 points lower this afternoon, the Dow has moved back into positive territory as has the S&P 500. The Nasdaq composite had been taking more or a beating. It had fallen below 4,000, but it too is regaining ground.
  • A federal appeals court has upheld the Environmental Protection Agency's emission standards for coal- and oil-fired power plants. The new regulations are designed to clean the air of toxins such as mercury, lead and arsenic, which contribute to respiratory illnesses, birth defects and developmental problems in children. The EPA calls the decision "a victory for public health and the environment."
  • Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says the nation's largest banks might need to hold more capital to withstand periods of financial stress. Speaking to a banking conference today, Yellen said current rules do not address all threats. She says the Fed will review the likely effects of imposing stricter rules on banks. Banks and their advocates have warned that further tightening of regulations would lead to reduced lending and could slow economic growth.
  • The European Union's Parliament has completed the biggest overhaul of the bloc's financial system since the introduction of the euro currency. Lawmakers signed off on the establishment of a European authority to unwind or restructure failing banks as well as new rules designed to prevent any further bailouts with taxpayer money. The EU Parliament also passed legislation that protects all deposits of up to $138,000. During the global financial crisis, European governments pumped more than $800 billion into ailing banks.
  • Foreign holdings of U.S. Treasury securities have reached a record high. The Treasury Department says total foreign holdings rose 0.8 percent in February to $5.89 trillion. China is the largest foreign buyer of Treasury debt. It reduced its holdings 0.2 percent, to $1.27 trillion. Japan is second, and it increased U.S. holdings.

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