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Tuesday Evening Business Brief

December 31, 2013, 5:24 PM

Tuesday Evening Business Brief
  • The Standard & Poor's 500 index has completed one of its best years since 1997, as traders saw a record-setting performance. The S&P 500 increased nearly 30 percent in 2013. For the full year, its total return was 32 percent including dividends, the biggest in 16 years. The index rose seven points today to close at 1,848, its latest record finish.
  • The price of gold closed out its worst year since 1981 Tuesday as the U.S. economy improved, inflation remained at bay and worries about the financial system and gridlock in Washington faded. Gold slumped 28 percent in 2013. The price peaked at $1,900 an ounce in August 2011 and has been declining more or less steadily ever since.
  • The price of oil retreated from its recent high to end the year at $98.42. The price fell 87 cents from Monday's close and was down from Friday's settlement of $100.32, the first triple-digit close since Oct. 18. Recently, a stronger dollar has been keeping a cap on oil prices by making commodities like oil priced in dollars more expensive for traders using other currencies.
  • U.S. consumers' confidence in the economy rose this month on a better outlook for hiring and growth. The Conference Board says its index of consumer confidence rose to 78.1 in December, up from 72 in the previous month. November's figure was revised up from 70.4. The December increase followed three months of declines.
  • Target is getting hit with another lump of coal this holiday season. The nation's second-largest discount retailer said Tuesday that an unidentified number of gift cards sold over the holidays were not properly activated. The Minneapolis chain says the number of cards affected was less than 0.1 percent of the total sold and that it will honor the affected cards. Customers can bring faulty cards to any Target service desk or call 800-544-2943 for help.

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