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Wednesday Morning Business Brief

December 4, 2013, 5:33 AM

Wednesday Morning Business Brief

It couldn't last forever. The stock market pullback long anticipated by investors may have arrived after eight straight weeks of gains. Stocks fell yesterday, dragged lower by the Detroit automakers and consumer-focused companies such as GameStop and Amazon.com. The market could be headed for its first weekly decline since early October. Futures point to a possible slight gain at this morning's opening.

  • International stock markets put in a patchy performance today with Japan suffering a sharp fall, as investors continued to worry the U.S. Federal Reserve will soon start reducing its monetary stimulus. European benchmarks made modest gains in early trading. Benchmark crude oil rose above $97 a barrel. The dollar gained against the euro and the yen.
  • The country gets a new snapshot of how trade is going and the condition of the housing market. Those are among the key economic reports being issued later this morning. Later today, the Federal Reserve will release its so-called "Beige Book," a survey of business health in states and localities across the country.
  • There are more disturbing economic signs out of Europe. Figures released today from Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, show retail sales across the region fell a monthly 0.2 percent in October. That follows a 0.6 percent decline in September. And financial information company Markit says its gauge of business activity, the purchasing managers index, fell in November. The reports could be signs that the economic recovery in the 17-country eurozone is losing steam.
  • India's refusal to budge on food subsidies has reduces the chances that an eleventh-hour agreement can be reached to boost global trade at a World Trade Organization summit in Indonesia. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman says if there's no agreement, it "would deal a debilitating blow to the WTO as a forum for multilateral negotiations."

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