Stocks have been wavering today as several big U.S. companies report their fourth-quarter financial results. DuPont reported a sharp drop in income, but the results still beat analysts' forecasts, sending the chemical company's stock higher. Johnson & Johnson saw a gain in fourth-quarter profit, but its shares fell on its 2013 income forecast which fell short of analysts' estimates. The Dow was up more than 30 points in afternoon trading, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are edging into positive territory.
- The White House says President Barack Obama won't "stand in the way" of a House Republican bill that would provide a three-month extension on the government's borrowing authority. As recently as last week, the president was rejecting suggestions of a short-term extension. But spokesman Jay Carney says the three-month plan being offered by House GOP leaders is significant because it "de-escalates the sense of conflict."
- The Keystone XL oil pipeline is getting a green light from Nebraska. Gov. Dave Heineman has approved the pipeline's new route, which avoids the state's environmentally sensitive Sandhills region. The grass-covered sand dunes are vulnerable to erosion, and the original route would have run the pipeline through them.
- Wal-Mart is warning its global suppliers not to subcontract work to factories that haven't been authorized by the retail giant. In a letter to suppliers, Wal-Mart says, starting March 1, it will drop them immediately if the supplier is found to be subcontracting without the company's knowledge. Until now, suppliers have had three chances to fix their mistakes. The stricter policy comes amid increasing calls for better safety oversight after a deadly fire at a Bangladesh factory that supplied clothes to Wal-Mart.
- As CEOs gather for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a new survey shows fewer of them are confident their companies will grow this year. The PricewaterhouseCoopers survey finds only 36 percent of the CEOs polled say they are "very confident," down from 40 percent last year and 48 percent in 2011. The lack of confidence extends even to strongly growing economies such as China and Brazil.
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