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Friday Morning Business Brief

January 4, 2013, 6:14 AM

Friday Morning Business Brief

Federal Reserve policymakers are split over how long to continue an economic stimulus program and that's creating uncertainty among investors. Mixed holiday sales reports from retailers and the prospect of a fiscal fight in Congress over the debt-ceiling sent stocks down Thursday. The Dow fell 21 points. The S&P 500 lost three points and the Nasdaq was down 11. Futures trading indicates a higher opening today.

  • Japan's benchmark stock index is the exeption this morning, soaring on its first trading day of the new year while other international stock markets stalled as enthusiasm faded over the last-minute budget deal reached in Washington. Benchmark crude oil fell but continues to hover above $92 per barrel. The dollar rose against the euro and the yen.
  • The Labor Department today releases employment data for December. Also, among the important economic data economists and investors will be looking at: The Institute for Supply Management's service sector index for December; and the Commerce Department's report on November factory orders.
  • Economists surveyed by FactSet predict December jobs data will show modest but steady hiring that added 155,000 jobs. They also predict unemployment in December remained at 7.7 percent. The government releases the official December data this morning.
  • Inflation across the 17 European Union countries that use the euro was unchanged at 2.2 percent in the year to December. Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, did not provide further details in its estimate released today. Inflation in the eurozone remains above the European Central Bank's target of "just below 2 percent."

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