Stocks have backtracked today. Lacking a positive catalyst to move higher, the key averages were down about 0.4 percent at midday.
- President Barack Obama has assured China's heir apparent to leadership that the U.S. welcomes Beijing's rise in the world, saying that strong cooperation between the two powers is good for the rest of the world. Obama offered a warm welcome to Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping amid sharp policy differences over Syria, Iran and economic issues.
- Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has told Congress that the president's proposed $3.8 trillion spending plan would impose new taxes on only 2 percent of the nation's wealthiest families. He says the alternative would be to seek more painful cuts in other government programs such as defense, Social Security and Medicare.
- The head of the Eurogroup, a gathering of eurozone finance ministers, says he has canceled a meeting on Greece's bailout planned for tomorrow as Athens did not fulfill all the demands. Jean-Claude Juncker, who is also prime minister of Luxembourg, says the Eurogroup was still missing information from Athens on how it plans to save promised $428 million.
- Late payments on mortgages rose in late 2011, the second straight quarter-to-quarter increase after nearly two years of steady declines. Credit reporting agency TransUnion says 6.01 percent of mortgage holders were behind on their payments by 60 days or more in the October-to-December period. That's compared with 5.88 percent for the third quarter of 2011.
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