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Wednesday Morning Business Brief

February 1, 2012, 5:58 AM

Wednesday Morning Business Brief
For the Dow and the S&P, the January just completed was the best in 15 years. For the latest session, the Dow fell 21 points, while the S&P dropped less than a point to 1,312. The Nasdaq added 2 points to 2,814. Futures trading suggests a higher open.
  • International stock markets were mixed today as a modest improvement in manufacturing data from China offered reassurance over its economic slowdown. Asian markets fell back from early gains after the release later in the morning of a competing, seasonally adjusted survey. European shares rose in early trading. Benchmark crude oil hovered below $99 per barrel while the dollar rose against the euro but fell against the yen.
  • The Institute for Supply Management today releases its monthly reading on the manufacturing sector. Also this morning, the Commerce Department reports on December construction spending.
  • The Obama administration is about to detail a homeowner-friendly plan it hopes will ease a major drag on the economy. It would allow all homeowners to refinance at lower interest rates even if they owe more than their homes are worth. The major hurdle in Congress is that the program would be paid for by a fee on large banks.
  • An IMF debt inspector says negotiations for landmark debt deals with Greece will be concluded in a "matter of days." He's pressuring the recession-hit country to lower employment costs and even slash the minimum wage. The head of the International Monetary Fund's mission in Greece, Poul Thomsen, commented in an interview published today.

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