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Tuesday Evening Business Brief

December 10, 2013, 6:05 PM

Tuesday Evening Business Brief
  • Stocks took a breather today after U.S. markets notched another record high yesterday.  While the market continues to test new heights, few investors believe stocks will move significantly higher from these levels in the short run. It's a common practice for portfolio managers, in the last couple weeks of the year, to wind down their positions, sell off poor-performing stocks and try to make their portfolios look as good as they possibly can for year-end statements to investors. On Wall Street, the practice is sometimes called "window dressing."
  • Federal regulators have approved the Volcker Rule, which bars banks from betting on the market with their own money starting in July 2015. The Volcker rule is part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law passed in 2010 in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The news pushed bank stocks higher.
  • General Motors is putting a woman in the company's driver's seat. The automaker has named Mary Barra as their next CEO. She'll replace Dan Akerson and will be the first woman to run a major U.S. car company. The government also says it has sold the last of its stake in the automaker, which it acquired following GM's 2009 bankruptcy and restructuring.
  • Majority Leader Harry Reid says the Senate will not extend current farm law if Congress can't agree on a new farm bill before adjourning next week. House leaders have reserved space on their agenda this week for extending the current law until the end of January. Lawmakers fear that milk prices might rise sharply if dairy subsidies expire Jan. 1.
  • Budget negotiators in Congress are hoping to announce a deal by day's end that would reduce automatic spending cuts aimed at programs ranging from parks to the Pentagon. Officials said that under the emerging agreement, an estimated $65 billion in automatic spending cuts would be restored through the end of the next budget year, which runs to Sept. 30, 2015. A variety of spending reductions and increased fees would offset the increases, among them a $5 bump in airline ticket fees and larger pension contributions from federal workers.

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