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Tuesday Evening Business Brief

April 1, 2014, 6:40 PM

Tuesday Evening Business Brief
  • The Standard & Poor's 500 has reached at a record high close as signs of a pickup in manufacturing helped boost the stock market today. The S&P gained 13 points to close at 1,885 points. Eight of the ten sectors in the index rose, led by consumer discretionary and technology stocks. The Dow rose 75 points to finish at 16,532, while the Nasdaq composite rose 69 points, or 1.6 percent, to 4,268.
  • President Barack Obama is celebrating a key milestone for his health care law. Speaking in the White House Rose Garden this afternoon, Obama announced that 7.1 million Americans had enrolled for health care coverage by Monday's midnight deadline. The total tops a goal that had been seen as unattainable after computer setbacks when sign-ups began last fall.
  • General Motors has submitted documents to Congress that indicate the piece needed to fix a defective ignition switch linked to 13 traffic deaths would have cost just 57 cents. At a hearing on Capitol Hill today, members of a House subcommittee have been demanding answers from new CEO Mary Barra about why GM used the faulty switch even though the part didn't meet its own specifications. Barra says GM has hired attorney Kenneth Feinberg to explore ways to compensate accident victims.
  • U.S. auto sales have been gaining momentum. Automakers report sales picked up speed in middle of March, helping to rescue what was otherwise a disappointing first quarter. Analysts had predicted flat growth for the first three months of this year after harsh weather in January and February hurt sales. But March helped pull first quarter sales up 1.4 percent. Chrysler's sales rose 13 percent last month, Toyota's rose 5 percent and Ford's 3 percent. General Motors' sales were up 4 percent despite a series of safety recalls of older model vehicles.
  • The eurozone emerged from recession last year, but that is doing little to improve the job market there. The European Union's statistical agency says the unemployment rate across the 18 countries remains near a record high. While the number of jobless dropped slightly in February, the unemployment rate remained flat at 11.9 percent.

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