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Tuesday Evening Business Brief

December 24, 2013, 5:12 PM

Tuesday Evening Business Brief

An unexpectedly large increase in orders for manufactured goods has helped push stock prices higher on Wall Street. The market was open for just half a day ahead of the Christmas holiday. Trading will remain closed on Wednesday. The Dow rose 62 points. The S&P rose five points and the Nasdaq was up six points.

  • Postal regulators have approved a temporary price hike of 3 cents for a first-class stamp, bringing the charge to 49 cents a letter. It's an effort to help the Postal Service recover from severe mail decreases brought on by the 2008 economic downturn and massive annual pre-payments ordered by Congress to the health benefits of future employees. Bulk mail, periodicals and package service rates will rise 6 percent.
  • The White House says traffic on the health care website has been high today, but not as heavy as yesterday -- when there were two million visits. That was the highest one-day total since the website went into operation.  Officials say error rates have been lower than one in 200, and pages loaded quickly, in less than a half-second.
  • New-home sales dipped in November, but the government released more positive figures for the previous three months, a sign that housing may be regaining strength after a summer lull.  The Commerce Department says sales slipped 2.1 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 464,000.
  • Some of the same retailers who pushed forward holiday shopping to Thanksgiving Day are now resorting to "after Christmas" on the day before Christmas. Amazon.com already is offering "after Christmas" deals of up to 70 percent off clothes and 60 percent off some electronics. Old Navy is running TV ads that its "after-holiday sale starts early" with discounts of up to 75 percent off.

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