Stocks finished solidly higher today, helped by word of rising consumer confidence. For the Dow, the gain of 136 points was the best showing since mid-September. The S&P was up 15 points, while the Nasdaq surged nearly 43 points.
- Retail chains reporting their October sales numbers had better than expected results. The trade group, the International Council of Shopping Centers, says sales were up 5 percent.
- Two reports indicate that small businesses kept a slow pace of hiring during October. Payroll service ADP says small businesses added 50,000 workers last month, while medium-sized businesses added 27,000. The National Federation of Independent Business' survey indicated that employment at small companies rose only slightly during the month.
- The average U.S. rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage slipped this week, but stayed near a record low. Freddie Mac says that the rate on the 30-year loan declined to 3.39 percent from 3.41 percent last week. Four weeks ago, the rate touched 3.36 percent, the lowest level on records dating to 1971.
- Starbucks says more customers visited its stores in its latest quarter. The Seattle-based company says it earned $359 million, or 46 cents a share, slightly ahead of what analysts were expecting. Starbucks stock has edged higher in after-hours trading.
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