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Thursday Morning Business Brief

December 27, 2012, 5:36 AM

Thursday Morning Business Brief
  • For the stock market, this week hasn't been the most wonderful time of the year. U.S. stocks fell yesterday for the third trading day in a row. Disappointing holiday sales weighed heavy on retail companies, and the unwelcome "fiscal cliff" package of higher taxes and lower government spending looms nearer. The Dow slipped 24 points to 13,114.59. Futures trading suggests a flat opening today.
  • International stock markets rose today while Japan's benchmark index hit its highest level in more than a year.  Optimism a new government in Japan will stimulate the country's sluggish economy helped. Benchmark crude oil rose above $91 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro but rose against the yen.
  • The U.S. Treasury Department will begin taking steps this week to delay hitting the government's $16.4 trillion borrowing limit. Without those steps, the debt limit would be hit on Dec. 31. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says in a letter to congressional leaders that the department will take several accounting measures to save approximately $200 billion beginning next year. That would keep the government from reaching the limit for two months.
  • Toyota still faces lawsuits over injury or death, with the first trial beginning in February unless another major deal comes first in connection with massive recalls over sudden and unintended acceleration. A settlement was announced yesterday with owners who said the value of their vehicles plunged after the recalls.
  • China's new communist leaders are moving to exert even tighter internet restrictions than their predecessors. The moves follow a spate of embarrassing online reports about official abuses. One analyst says China's new leaders are "still very paranoid" that the Internet is a destabilizing influence.

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