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Friday Morning Business Brief

December 28, 2012, 6:51 AM

Friday Morning Business Brief
  • Wall Street may have felt like it was looking over the "fiscal cliff." Developments in the tense budget standoff yanked stocks back and forth on Thursday. The Dow finished the day down 18 points. The S&P 500 fell 1.73 and the Nasdaq composite index dropped 4.25. With a deadline looming, President Barack Obama will meet today with congressional leaders at the White House. Futures trading suggests gains this morning.
  • Asian stock markets rose today but European stocks were mixed hours before President Barack Obama and key lawmakers were to meet at the White House to try to hammer out an 11th-hour budget compromise to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. Benchmark crude oil rose above $91 per barrel. The dollar gained against the euro and the yen.
  • The National Association of Realtors releases its index measuring the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes in November. The month before, the pending home sales index rose to nearly its highest level in almost six years.
  • Commerce could be brought to a near standstill at major ports from Boston to Houston if more than 14,000 longshoremen go on strike as threatened Sunday. Shipments of products as varied as flat-screen TVs, sneakers and snow shovels could sit idle at sea or get rerouted, at great time and expense. The wide-ranging work stoppage would immediately close cargo ports on the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico to container ships.
  • Government data show Japan's industrial output fell in November, and consumer prices continued to decline in the latest show of a dismal economy. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry reported Friday industrial production dropped 1.7 percent from the previous year.

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