Alcoa got the corporate earnings season off to a positive start, and that's pushed stocks into positive territory. The Dow is off its high of the day but still more than 50 points up in afternoon trading. The blue chip index is coming off of two days of losses. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are also higher.
- Boeing shares are rallying after their aircraft maker stated it had "extreme confidence" in its 787 Dreamliner despite a fire this week in one plane's batteries. Federal investigators are looking into the incident, but Boeing's chief engineer for the 787 says the area around the battery is designed to withstand a fire. Boeing shares lost 4.6 percent in the last two sessions.
- House Democrats are telling President Barack Obama he should consider invoking a little-known constitutional provision to sidestep Republican demands for major spending cuts as a condition to raising the debt ceiling. In a letter to the White House, 21 Democrats say they would support the use the 14th Amendment to prevent the nation from going into default. The amendment states that "the validity of the public debt of the United States...shall not be questioned."
- It appears White House chief of staff Jack Lew will be President Barack Obama's pick to lead the Treasury Department. White House officials won't confirm that a final decision has been made, but sources familiar with the process say Lew is emerging as the consensus choice because of his wide variety of government and private sector experience. Lew previously led the Office of Management and Budget and oversaw international economic issues at the State Department.
- A government watchdog says the nation's tax law is so thick and complicated that businesses and individuals spend more than 6 billion hours a year complying with filing requirements. In her annual report to Congress, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson ranks complexity as the most serious problem facing taxpayers and the IRS. She says it will prompts about 90 percent of filers to either pay a tax preparer or use a computer software service to help file their federal tax returns this spring.
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