Reports of progress in fiscal cliff talks at the White House have helped stocks end a three-day losing streak. The Dow finished the day up 46 points at 12,588, though it was still down for the week. The S&P 500 rose seven to end at 1,360 and the Nasdaq rose 16 to 2,853.
- Congressional leaders from both parties are voicing fresh optimism about avoiding the year-end "fiscal cliff" of tax increases and spending cuts. After meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House this morning, House Speaker John Boehner said Republicans are willing to consider increased revenue "as long as it is accompanied by spending cuts."
- President Barack Obama's health care law appears to be on track in nearly half the country. As of today, 22 states and Washington, D.C., are setting up health insurance exchanges, where people and businesses will be able to shop for private coverage. Fifteen states say they'll leave it to the federal government to run their markets. The other 13 have until Dec. 14 to declare their intentions.
- The Humane Society says a $500 million settlement has been reached in a slaughterhouse abuse case that led to the biggest meat recall in U.S. history in 2008. The now defunct Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. was supplying meats for the national school lunch program when an undercover video showed cows unable to walk being dragged with chains and prodded with forklifts.
- Twinkies may not last forever after all. Hostess Brands filed a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy court today to liquidate after striking workers crippled its ability to maintain production. The move means the loss of more than 18,000 jobs. Hostess CEO Greg Rayburn says there's no one waiting in the wings to buy the company, but he has received interest in some of its 30 brands.