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Wednesday Morning Business Brief

December 12, 2012, 6:38 AM

Wednesday Morning Business Brief

Stocks posted solid gains in Tuesday trading. The Dow added 70 points to 13,248. The S&P tacked on 9 points to 1,428, while the Nasdaq rose 35 points to 3,022. The Dow and the S&P have risen for five straight sessions. Futures trading suggest a lackluster opening today.

  • Expectations that the Federal Reserve will announce a new stimulus plan to help bring life to a lethargic U.S. economy boosted stock markets in Asia, but enthusiasm waned as trading began in Europe. Benchmark crude oil rose above $86 per barrel. The dollar rose against the euro and the yen.
  • The Federal Reserve today wraps up a two-day policy-setting session, where it is expected to announce a revised bond-buying program aimed at supporting economic growth. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke holds a news conference where he will talk about the outlook for the economy.
  • Economists say some of the anxiety about the fiscal cliff may be misplaced and that a brief fall probably wouldn't be too damaging. Even if New Year's passes with no deal, there would be no need to panic as long as an agreement seemed likely soon. The tax increases and spending cuts could be retroactively repealed.
  • A new report is encouraging news for small business, especially in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. MasterCard Advisors and Wells Fargo report spending by holiday shoppers trumped Sandy's impact on small businesses in November. The report says shoppers spent 5.2 percent more at small retailers in November than they did last year. Total U.S. retail sales increased 4.5 percent for the same period.

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