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Friday Morning Business Brief

January 18, 2013, 5:40 AM

Friday Morning Business Brief

Investors are hoping Wall Street can close out the trading week on a high note. Yesterday, stocks closed up, pushing the S&P 500 to another five-year high. The index gained 8 points to close at 1,480, its highest level since December 2007. The Dow also rose, gaining nearly 85 points and the Nasdaq composite rose 18. Futures trading signals more gains at this mornings opening.

  • International stock markets rose today after signs that the U.S. economic recovery is gaining traction and a rebound in China's growth emboldened investors to plunge back into equities. Benchmark crude oil slipped but remains above $95 a barrel. The dollar gained against the euro and was mostly steady against the yen.
  • Two important bellwether companies report quarterly financial results today: General Electric and Morgan Stanley. GE is a giant Fairfield, Conn.,-based manufacturer with a strong financial services component. Morgan Stanley is a large financial services company based in New York.
  • China's economy rebounded in the final quarter of 2012 amid warnings the recovery could be vulnerable to a possible downturn in global trade. Data shows growth rose to 7.9 percent in the three months ending in December. Meanwhile, the mastermind behind the monetary policies of Japan's new prime minister is welcoming the recovering stock market and the weakening yen. Koichi Hamada, professor emeritus at Yale University, says the dollar can rise as high as 110 yen before excessive inflation kicks in.
  • Toyota says it has settled the first of hundreds of wrongful death lawsuits involving problems of sudden, unintended acceleration by its vehicles. The company reached the agreement in the case brought by the family of a couple who were killed when their Camry slammed into a wall in Utah in 2010. Last month, Toyota agreed to a settlement worth more than $1 billion to resolve hundreds of lawsuits claiming economic losses suffered by Toyota owners.

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