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Wednesday Afternoon Business Brief

January 23, 2013, 1:18 PM

Wednesday Afternoon Business Brief

The Dow's been getting a lift from strong corporate earnings reports today. IBM shares surged 5 percent, leading the blue chip index higher. It's up about 70 points in afternoon trading. The S&P 500 has been relatively flat, while the Nasdaq is seeing modest gains.

  • The House has passed a bill to permit the government to borrow enough money to avoid default for at least four months. The House passed the measure by a 285-144 vote, a bipartisan showing on an initiative brought by majority Republicans. The GOP is backing away from its previous demand that any increase in the government's borrowing cap be paired with an equivalent level of spending cuts. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised a quick vote on the measure.
  • In a sign that the eurozone may be over worst of its financial crisis, Portugal is selling debt for the first time since being bailed out. The country raised $3.3 billion today in an auction of five-year bonds. Portugal's treasury secretary says the government will pay 4.9 percent interest on the loan - an affordable rate and a sign of returning market confidence in Portugal.
  • A congressional watchdog agency is calling for better reporting on the accident response times of natural gas pipelines operators. The U.S. Government Accountability Office says the data now collected doesn't require operators to fill out certain time-related fields. The report comes a month after a 20-inch line ruptured in West Virginia, triggering a massive fire that destroyed four homes and charred a section of Interstate 77. No one was seriously injured.
  • An industry lawyer is telling a court in New York that the city's limit on the size of sugary drinks is an "extraordinary infringement" on consumer choice. City officials and health experts call it a pioneering and proper move to fight obesity. But representatives of the American Beverage Association, the NAACP's New York branch and the Hispanic Federation say the rule will harm minority businesses and are asking that it be blocked from taking effect in March.

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