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Wednesday Morning Business Brief

December 19, 2012, 5:38 AM

Wednesday Morning Business Brief

Wall Street has advanced the so-called "Santa Claus" rally. In the latest session, the Dow rose 116 points to 13,351. The S&P was up 16 points, while the Nasdaq surged 44.

  • World stock markets are up after U.S. political leaders appeared to be closing in on a budget deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" by the year-end deadline. Markets and oil prices were further boosted by a positive monthly survey of business optimism for Germany.
  • Switzerland's UBS AG has agreed to pay some $1.5 billion in fines to international regulators following a probe into the rigging of a key global interest rate. In admitting to fraud, Switzerland's largest bank became the second bank, after Britain's Barclays PLC, to settle over the rate-rigging scandal. The fine, which will be paid to authorities in the U.S., Britain and Switzerland. Other banks are expected to be fined for their involvement in the London interbank offered rate scandal.
  • A key measure of German business optimism has risen slightly more than expected in December, suggesting Europe's largest economy will avoid a recession despite a recent slowdown in growth. The Ifo institute says that its main index rose to 102.4 from 101.4 the month before. The consensus expectation among market analysts was 102.0.
  • Figures are due this morning from the Commerce Department on November housing starts.  A gauge of builder sentiment, released yesterday, was at the highest level since April 2006.

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