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Wednesday Morning Business Brief

January 29, 2014, 5:42 AM

Wednesday Morning Business Brief

Positive developments in emerging markets are credited with giving U.S. stocks their first gain in four days on Tuesday. In the U.S., earnings gains from big companies, including Pfizer, Comcast and D.R. Horton helped lift indexes. The S&P gained nearly 11 points. The Dow jumped 91 points and the Nasdaq climbed 14 points.

  • Most Asian stock markets have risen Wednesday as jitters about emerging economies have been soothed by the Turkish central bank's aggressive interest rate hike to stabilize its currency. China has also infused funds into its banking system. Markets have gained ground in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
  • President Barack Obama is urging Congress to act to restore economic opportunity but he warns he'll act on his own wherever he can. He said in last night's State of the Union address that he'll increase the minimum wage for new government contract workers from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. He also announced a program to help workers whose jobs don't offer retirement savings plans. Obama says the MyRA is a savings bond that guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing any principal.
  • The Federal Reserve is expected to further reduce its stimulus for the U.S. economy even though that prospect has unsettled global financial markets. It announced last month that it would trim its monthly bond purchases from $85 billion to $75 billion. The two-day Fed meeting that ends today will be the last to be presided over by Ben Bernanke. Vice Chair Janet Yellen will take the reins next week.
  • The Senate could vote to approve bipartisan legislation to hold back flood insurance rate increases for hundreds of thousands of people.  Higher premiums based on new flood maps are set to phase in next year. The measure that could receive a vote today would delay whopping premiums up to four years.  Higher premiums for frequently flooded properties and on 1.7 million second homes would remain in place.

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