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Friday Afternoon Business Brief

November 16, 2012, 2:18 PM

Friday Afternoon Business Brief
  • Stocks turned higher after Congressional leaders reported progress in talks with President Barack Obama about cutting the U.S. government's budget deficit. The Dow had been down as much as 71 points in morning trading but turned higher after the White House meeting. The Dow was up about 25 points in afternoon trading. The broader indexes are also higher.
  • The White House says President Barack Obama had a constructive meeting with congressional leaders on the looming "fiscal cliff." Obama met with the top leaders of the House and Senate for more than an hour this morning on ways to avert a series of automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect Jan. 1 without action to head it off. Congressional leaders are expressing confidence a deal can be reached before Christmas.
  • An audit of the federal agency that insures mortgages for millions of low- and middle-income borrowers finds it is facing losses of more than $16 billion and may require taxpayer support. The Federal Housing Administration's estimated losses are steeper than earlier projections. But government officials say the agency has sufficient cash to pay insurance claims against mortgage defaults.
  • The House has voted to end Soviet-era trade restrictions. U.S. manufacturers and farmers have been pressing for the action, hoping to take advantage of Russia's expanding and more open markets. The bill establishes permanent normal trade relations with Russia while outlining sanctions for Russian officials involved in human rights violations. The Senate is expected to take up the measure after the Thanksgiving.
  • The Coast Guard says an oil rig fire has been extinguished after an explosion off the coast of Louisiana that sent four people to hospitals. Coast Guard aircraft and boats are searching for two missing people. Local officials say the Coast Guard has told them the platform is intact and suffered no structural damage and there's no pollution at the site.

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