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Wednesday Morning Business Brief

February 26, 2014, 6:06 AM

Wednesday Morning Business Brief

The U.S. stock market ended slightly lower yesterday after a choppy day of trading. Traders were discouraged by a surprisingly large drop in consumer confidence in February. The worst drops were in areas affected by the extreme cold weather and storms of the past few weeks. The Dow lost 27 1/2 to 16,179.66, the S&P 500 dropped 2 1/2 points to close at 1,845, while the Nasdaq composite fell five points to 4,287.59. Futures point to moderate gains.

  • Subdued trading reigned in global stock markets today after the S&P 500's failure to punch through its recent record high for a second day instilled investors with caution. There was little economic or corporate news, which put Wall Street's lack of momentum into focus. Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose above $102 a barrel. The dollar fell against the euro and gained against the yen.
  • New home sales come out at 10 a.m. today from the Commerce Department. Other business and economic events include a House hearing on passenger freight and rail safety and company financial results. Lowe's Companies Inc. and Target Corp will have quarterly financial results out before today's opening bell, while J.C. Penney reports after the market closes. Airbus is also scheduled to report 2013 earnings today.
  • The European Union's antitrust authority is closing an investigation against Visa Europe after accepting the firm's offer to lower some card fees. The EU Commission says its concerns are sufficiently addressed by Visa's concession to cut inter-bank fees for credit card payments to 0.3 percent of a transaction's value - a reduction of about 40 to 60 percent. The Commission, which acts as the 27-nation bloc's antitrust watchdog, says the company has also offered to reform its rules to facilitate competition across Europe.
  • The Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee is to outline his plan for overhauling the tax code today. The blueprint has been three years in the making and would lower the top income tax rate to 25 percent from nearly 40 percent and impose a new 10 percent tax on some earned income above $450,000. But over in the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has already pronounced the legislation dead.

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