Strong trading day despite anxiety over Fed's next move
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rose yesterday, with investors apparently willing to wait and see what course the Federal Reserve decides to take as it continues to push for economic growth.
The board's bond-buying of recent months has kept interest rates ultra-low and made it cheaper to borrow money.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed higher by 34.95 points, or 0.2 percent, at 15,529.73, yesterday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 7.16 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,704.76. And the S&P 500 was five points below its record high reached on Aug. 2. It has risen for three trading days in a row, and 10 of the last 11.
The Nasdaq composite was up 27.85 points, or 0.8 percent. It had the biggest percentage gain of the three big indexes.
Asia stocks hesitate as Fed decision looms
BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets struggled to find their footing today as traders hesitated to make bold moves before the Federal Reserve winds up a crucial policy meeting later in the day.
The Fed is widely expected to announce a reduction in its massive bond-buying program, launched after the 2008 financial crisis to boost the flailing U.S. economy.
Stock markets are hoping for a small reduction because the bond-buying has kept interest rates super-low, making it cheaper to borrow money. The low bond yields and flood of money led investors to plow into stock markets, fueling rallies across the globe.
But U.S. central bank officials have increasingly voiced a desire to scale back the program in light of data showing a slow but steady improvement in the U.S. economy.
Benchmark crude oil rose to remain above $105 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro and the yen.
Besides Fed, other reports to analyze
WASHINGTON (AP) — In addition to today's meeting of the Federal Reserve, there are other economic reports due:
The Commerce Department releases housing starts for August.
—Federal Reserve policymakers meet to set interest rates.
—The European Commission, the 28-nation bloc's executive arm, is presenting its draft legislation in Brussels on financial benchmarks aiming to prevent further manipulation as was revealed in the case of the LIBOR, the critical rate banks use to borrow from each other.
— FedEx Corp. reports quarterly earnings before the market opens.
—Oracle Corp. reports quarterly earnings after the market closes.
Report: IRS enforcement steps harmed by budget cuts
WASHINGTON (AP) — The inspector general of the IRS says budget cuts are undercutting the agency's ability to go after tax cheats.
A report by J. Russell George says that tax collections from enforcement actions dropped by 9 percent in the 2012 budget year, to a little more than $50 billion. It was the second year in a row that enforcement collections dropped.
In 2011, enforcement revenue dropped by more than $2 billion. Last year, it dropped by $5 billion more. The report out yesterday says that during this same period, the IRS was opening more delinquent taxpayer accounts than it was closing.
The report says the IRS has lost about 8,000 jobs since 2010. This comes as the agency is taking on big new responsibilities implementing President Barack Obama's new health care law.
Fed set to decide on next course for handling economy
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve will end a policy meeting later today, and investors are watching nervously to see what moves the board takes — or signals it sends about monetary policy through the remainder of the year.
There's broad anticipation that the Fed may move for the first time in many months to slow the pace of the stimulus steps that it has taken since the financial crisis of 2008 and the Great Recession.
But investors also seem to believe the board will move cautiously, perhaps with just a small reduction in its monthly Treasury and mortgage bond purchases. Some say they wouldn't be surprised if the Fed cut the stimulus program by $10 billion, down to $75 billion. The various steps the institution has taken so far have helped keep long-term loan rates ultra-low to encourage borrowing and spending.
The Fed is also expected to stress that while it's slowing its bond purchases, it plans no change anytime soon in its benchmark short-term rate. It has kept that rate at a record low near zero for the past five years. That's the rate which mostly affects rates on business and consumer loans.
Republicans coalescing around tough stand on health care law
WASHINGTON (AP) — House GOP leaders are looking to reverse course and agree to tea party demands to try to use a vote this week on a must-pass temporary government funding bill to block implementation of President Barack Obama's health care law.
A GOP aide says the latest strategy is to be offered to rank-and-file Republicans at a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill later today. It aim would be to link the stopgap spending bill to an attempt to strip money from President Barack Obama's health care program. The aide required anonymity to discuss the strategy because it has not been announced.
The Senate would likely strip out the health care provision and send it to the House, raising the possibility of a confrontation that could lead to a partial government shutdown after the Sept. 30 end of the budget year.
Starbucks says guns unwelcome, though not banned
NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks is stopping short of banning customers with guns, but the retailer is saying firearms are no longer welcome in its cafes.
The fine line that the retailer is walking to address the concerns of both gun rights and gun control advocates reflects how heated the issue has become, particularly in light of recent mass shootings.
Most states allow people to openly carry licensed guns in some way and many companies do not have policies banning firearms in their stores. But Starbucks has become a target for gun control advocates, in part because of its liberal-leaning corporate image. In turn, gun rights advocates have been galvanized by the company's decision to defer to local laws.
In an interview, CEO Howard Schultz said the decision to ask customers to stop bringing guns into stores came as a result of the growing frequency of "Starbucks Appreciation Days," in which gun rights advocates turned up at Starbucks cafes with firearms.
Alaskans eager to hear amount of oil wealth checks
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaskans find out how big this year's oil bonus is today.
While the economy continues to recover, the worst of the recession will be very much felt by Alaskans Wednesday when the amount of their annual check from the state's oil-wealth fund is announced.
The amount of each person's dividend is based on a five-year rolling average of worldwide investment markets that were hard-hit far outside Alaska. This year, the calculation means the checks likely won't amount to much, certainly nowhere near the record payout of $2,069 in 2008.
But it's still free money just for living in the northernmost state.
Whatever the amount, most dividends will go as usual toward new toys, travel, college savings or paying debts. The announcement is an eagerly anticipated event that will take place with much fanfare in Anchorage.
Greek public sector shuts down for 2-day strike
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek civil servants have walked off the job at the start of a two-day nationwide strike protesting planned job cuts required as part of the country's international bailout.
The strike which began Wednesday is shutting down all public services across Greece. Schools and courts will be closed, while hospitals will be functioning with reduced staff. Trains will stop running for four hours, and journalists will join in with a three-hour work stoppage, pulling news broadcasts off the air.
Government plans call for the suspension of 25,000 civil servants this year as part of efforts to reduce the size of the public sector and meet conditions to continue receiving rescue loans.
The country has been depending on bailouts from the International Monetary Fund and other European countries since May 2010.
Energy Department to sell Fisker loan
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Energy Department says it is selling a $192 million loan made to struggling electric car maker Fisker Automotive Inc.
The sale, to be held next month, is the latest setback for a half-billion-dollar loan guarantee offered to the California car maker in 2009 as part of the Obama administration's program to promote green energy.
The administration suspended the loan in 2011, after Fisker failed to meet a series of Energy Department benchmarks. Fisker has not produced a vehicle in more than a year and has laid off three-fourths of its workers.
Fisker had received $192 million before the loan was frozen. The DOE says it has recouped about $28 million since then; the auction will allow the government to collect as much of the remaining $164 million as possible.
ELI BROAD'S MUSEUM
Billionaire Broad says his LA museum will be free
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad says he's hit on a failsafe way to expose the most people possible to his collection of priceless contemporary art: He's going to let everybody in for free to the $140 million museum he's building in downtown Los Angeles.
Broad made the announcement yesterday during a hard-hat tour of the block-long, three-story building that is going up next door to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. To be called The Broad, it is scheduled to open toward the end of next year.
The philanthropist said, in his words, "art is very inspirational." In an interview with The Associated Press, he said, "Art helps people be more creative in their thinking."
The new museum continues a Broad-led transformation of a once-rundown neighborhood just south of City Hall. The area has seen a large park and numerous new and refurbished upscale residences and restaurants in recent years, as well as the Frank Gehry-designed Disney Hall, which Broad also helped get built.
Minimum wage hike fails in DC
WASHINGTON (AP) — An effort to require Wal-Mart and other large retailers to pay their employees a "living wage" of at least $12.50 an hour failed when the D.C. Council failed to override Mayor Vincent Gray's veto.
The bill put Washington at the center of a national debate over compensation for low-wage workers — and whether some large companies should be required to pay more. Supporters said Wal-Mart can afford to pay higher wages, while opponents said the bill unfairly singled out certain businesses and would have a chilling effect on economic development.
The City Council voted 7-6 to override the veto, falling two votes short of the required two-thirds majority. The bill was approved in July by an 8-5 vote. Councilmember Anita Bonds, who earlier voted for the bill, voted against the override.
Gray, a Democrat, called the bill a job killer, saying it would drive Wal-Mart and other retailers — including Home Depot, Target and Wegmans — out of the city. Wal-Mart had threatened to abandon plans for three of the six stores it had planned for the nation's capital if the bill became law.
Iconic New York entertainment venue reopening
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City's Rainbow Room, where music greats Tommy Dorsey, Guy Lombardo and others performed, will reopen to the public in the fall of 2014.
The famous nightclub at Rockefeller Center closed in 2009 amid a landlord-tenant dispute. Tishman Speyer, which operates Rockefeller Center, made the reopening announcement yesterday.
The Rainbow Room opened as a supper club in 1934 after the repeal of Prohibition. Over the years, legendary performers including Louis Armstrong and Tony Bennett have entertained there. The city granted it landmark status in October 2012, saying its art deco-style decor "came to epitomize New York City."
The restaurant development company Blau + Associates will oversee the reopening process.
Gabellini Sheppard Architects will design the Rainbow Room's public spaces.
And an executive chef will be announced in the coming months.
Created: Wed, 18 Sep 2013 01:15:52 PST
Updated: Wed, 18 Sep 2013 01:15:52 PST