Investors for the most part think the Federal Reserve Board will opt to continue its bond-buying stimulus at its meeting beginning in Washington today. That should keep the market humming. There were strong gains yesterday, driven by two corporate deals and a strong report on manufacturing. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 129 points, or 0.8 percent.
- Trading has been fitful on world stock markets today. Most Asian indexes were up while European benchmarks and U.S. futures are down. Meanwhile in energy markets, benchmark crude for January delivery was down 23 cents to $97.25 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 88 cents to close at $97.48 yesterday.
- A key test vote takes place later today in the Senate on bipartisan legislation to soften across-the-board spending cuts. The bill gained ground among Senate Republicans yesterday as Democrats expressed optimism that it would gain the 60 votes needed to pass by week's end. To offset the spending increases, the White House-backed legislation calls for about $85 billion in budget savings over the next decade.
- The Boeing Co. says its board of directors has approved a $10 billion increase in its stock buyback program. The aircraft maker will also raise its quarterly dividend payment by about 50 percent. Chairman and CEO Jim McNerney says the moves reflect Boeing's operational performance, increasing cash flow and confidence in the future.
- U.S. factories increased output in November for the fourth straight month, led by a surge in auto production. The gains show manufacturing is strengthening and could help boost economic growth at the end of the year. The Federal Reserve says factory production rose 0.6 percent in November after a 0.5 percent gain in October. Factories also stepped up production of home electronics and chemical products.
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