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Friday Afternoon Business Brief

December 28, 2012, 1:45 PM

Friday Afternoon Business Brief
  • Stocks are lower for a fifth day amid concerns that Washington lawmakers will fail to reach a budget deal before a year-end deadline. If the market ends lower, it will mark the longest losing streak in three months.
  • President Barack Obama is preparing to present a limited fiscal proposal to congressional leaders at a White House meeting later this afternoon. It's a make-or-break moment for negotiations to avoid across-the-board tax increases and deep spending cuts at the first of the year. Lawmakers and White House officials are holding out a slim hope for a deal before the New Year, but it's unclear whether congressional passage of legislation palatable to both sides is even possible.
  • A mediator says the union for longshoremen along the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico has agreed to extend its contract for 30 days, averting a possible strike which could have crippled operations at several ports. Those ports handle about 40 percent of all U.S. container cargo. The mediator says negotiations will continue until at least midnight Jan. 28.
  • U.S. pending home sales rose last month to its highest level in two and a-half years. With ultra-low mortgage rates and steady job gains, home sales are on track to rise 10 percent this year to their highest level in five years.
  • Spain's prime minister says the country's economy faces a tough year ahead as it grapples with recession, a deep financial crisis and 25 percent unemployment. In his end-of-year assessment Friday, Mariano Rajoy said the country's crisis had been worse than anticipated, warning that the first half of 2013 will be "very hard" with any recovery not expected until the latter part of the year.

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