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Wednesday Business Brief

April 30, 2014, 6:08 AM

Wednesday Business Brief

Wall Street trading begins on a high note today following yesterday's gains. The S&P 500 rose 8.90 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,878.33. The index is 12 points below its record high of 1,890.89 set April 2. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 86.63 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,535.37. And the Nasdaq composite gained 29.14 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,103.54. Futures point to a lackluster opening this morning.

  • International stock markets were mixed today as investors looked ahead to a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting after Japan's central bank left monetary policy unchanged despite signs of weaker economic growth. Benchmark crude oil fell but remains above $100 a barrel. The dollar slipped against the yen and was flat against the euro.
  • Analysts expect a dreary report this morning when the government issues its first estimate of how fast the U.S. economy grew in the January-March quarter. Brutal weather kept consumers and businesses in hibernation for much of the winter and economists says that likely slowed growth to a scant annual pace of just 1.1 percent, but there are signs of future improvement as well. The Federal Reserve wraps up its policy meeting today.
  • Japan's central bank has kept its ultra-loose monetary policy unchanged despite signs that growth was moderating even before a recent sales tax hike. The Bank of Japan ended a policy meeting today by saying it will maintain its current pace of asset purchases. The action was expected.
  • Senate Democrats are hoping to turn an expected defeat today in a vote on increasing the federal minimum wage into ammunition against Republicans in the November mid-term elections. Democrats hope to convince voters it's evidence that the GOP isn't interested in protecting financially struggling families. Republicans say the wage proposal will cost jobs.

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