Stocks closed Monday trading on Wall Street with modest gains. The Dow added 15 points to end at 13,170. The S&P was up less than a point to 1,419. The Nasdaq gained 9 points to 2,987. Futures trading produced sluggish results ahead of this morning's opening bell.
- International stock markets lost some steam today as efforts by U.S. leaders to reach a budget deal before the year's end appeared deadlocked and fears lingered that a leadership change in Italy could derail Europe's efforts to tackle its financial crisis. Benchmark crude oil rose but remained below $86 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro but rose slightly against the yen.
- On today's economic calendar, the Federal Reserve begins a two-day policy-setting. Also, the Commerce Department releases October international trade data.
- U.S. and European officials are beginning to consider an about-face on trade issues in an effort to boost their struggling economies. After years of battling each other, very preliminary discussions have begun on joining forces in what could be the world's largest free trade pact. But sharp differences would have to be overcome on agriculture, food safety and climate change.
- A new bond-buying plan could come out of the Federal Reserve this week at the end of its regular meeting. The goal would be to further reduce long-term interest rates and encourage borrowing by companies and individuals, perhaps softening the impact if there's no agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff.
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