Investors appear more optimistic about the U.S. economy following strong reports on housing starts and unemployment claims. Stocks closed up today, pushing the S&P 500 to another five-year high. The S&P gained 8 points to close at 1,480, its highest level since December 2007. The Dow also rose, gaining nearly 85 points to 13,596. The Nasdaq composite rose 18.
- The price of oil has risen to a four-month high on positive reports about the U.S. economy. Benchmark oil gained $1.25 today to finish at $95.49 a barrel, the highest close for crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange since Sept. 17. Oil has now gained 4 percent this year.
- An Associated Press-GfK poll says most Americans think jarring economic problems would erupt if lawmakers don't increase the government's debt limit. Fifty-three percent say if the debt limit is not extended and the U.S. defaults, there will be a major economic crisis. But the survey also shows that people are torn over how or even whether to raise it. They lean slightly toward Republican demands that any boost be accompanied by federal spending cuts.
- American Express says its net income fell 47 percent in the fourth quarter, as the credit card issuer racked up hefty charges related to restructuring costs and other one-time expenses. The New York-based company says it posted net income of $637 million, or 56 cents per share. Excluding roughly $594 million in after-tax charges, earnings amounted to $1.09 per share.
- Rihanna's collection for British brand River Island is slated for its debut next month during London Fashion Week. The 24-year-old's first collection of clothing and accessories will be shown Feb. 16. Items will be available in River Island stores in Great Britain, and in the United States and Japan at an Opening Ceremony starting on March 5.