The stock market crept higher in midday trading today, one day after the Dow Jones industrial average posted its biggest gain in more than a year. Retailers reported mixed sales and the prospect of a new budget battle in Congress loomed. The Standard & Poor's 500 index inched up one point to 1,463 and the Nasdaq composite rose four points to 3,116.
- Federal Reserve policymakers expressed broad support last month for the Fed's plan to buy bonds to support the U.S. economy. But according to minutes of the Fed's December policy meeting, they differed over how long to keep buying bonds to drive down long-term interest rates.
- The FTC says Google has agreed to license certain patents to mobile phone rivals and stop including snippets from other websites in its search results. It's part of a settlement to end a 20-month investigation into the search leader's business practices. U.S. antitrust regulators added they found no evidence Google unfairly favors its own services in search results.
- The U.S. government is voicing opposition to a planned North Korea visit by Google's executive chairman. The State Department spokeswoman says the timing of the visit by Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is, quote, "unhelpful." People familiar with the plans tell The Associated Press the trip will happen as early as this month.
- A Swiss bank says it has agreed to pay $57.8 million to settle a court case in which it was charged with conspiring to help American clients hide more than $1.2 billion from the Internal Revenue Service. Wegelin & Co. says under the plea deal accepted by a U.S. District judge in New York City, the firm admits to violating American law by operating accounts for U.S. taxpayers between 2002 and 2010.
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