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Wednesday Afternoon Business Brief

February 5, 2014, 1:23 PM

Wednesday Afternoon Business Brief

Stocks are mixed today after a see-saw beginning to the trading week. The Dow and the S&P have edged into positive territory in afternoon trading, while the Nasdaq remains lower. But one market strategist says trading volumes illustrate the market's current dynamic. Chris Gaffney of EverBank says volume has been larger on down days, and that leads him to believe "we're still in a down market."

  • U.S. service companies expanded at a slightly faster pace in January. New orders, sales and hiring showed strength in a sign that financial firms and information technology companies foresee stronger growth. The Institute for Supply Management says its service-sector index rose to 54 from 53 in December. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.
  • Anheuser Busch InBev's U.S. arm is buying craft brewer Blue Point Brewing Co. The Patchogue, N.Y. brewery was founded in 1998 and ranks as the 34th largest craft brewery in the U.S. It makes more than 40 craft beers, including Toasted Lager, Hoptical Illusion and Blueberry Ale. Anheuser Busch says the deal will bring additional resources to Blue Point's operations, allowing it to meet growing consumer demand for its brands.
  • The National Labor Relations Board has proposed rules to streamline the process in which workers decide whether to join labor unions. The rules would simplify procedures, setting shorter deadlines and requiring businesses to hand over lists of employee phone numbers and emails to union leaders before an election. That could make it easier for unions to organize and reverse decades of steep membership declines. The board approved similar rules more than two years ago, but business groups won a court challenge blocking them.
  • Work on widening the Panama Canal has stopped over a dispute about cost overruns. The Spanish-led construction consortium leading the expansion says negotiations have broken down for how to finance the $1.6 billion in overruns, putting 10,000 jobs at risk. The canal's administrator vows he "will not yield to blackmail." The consortium and the Panama Canal Authority blame each other for the overruns.

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