Business news for Tuesday, November 26

Jos. A. Bank store (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are moving higher in afternoon trading. Strong earnings from luxury retailer Tiffany and a government report showing a surge in housing permits have boosted the main indexes in light pre-holiday trading. The Dow was up about 30 points, while the S&P 500 had gained five, and the Nasdaq 25.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has decided to hear two cases challenging a requirement in President Barack Obama's health care law that for-profit companies cover birth control for employees. The key issue is whether corporations can assert religious beliefs to escape the requirement. One of the cases involves Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain that won its challenge in the lower courts. The other involves a Pennsylvania cabinet maker that had its claims rejected.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. says U.S. banks earned $36 billion in the July-September quarter. That's down almost 4 percent from a year ago and the first year-over-year decline in earnings since the spring of 2009. The FDIC says the drop came primarily from the litigation expenses of a single institution. The FDIC did not name the institution.

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is recalling the Escape again, this time to fix oil and fuel leaks that can cause fires. The small SUV has been recalled seven times since it was redesigned and went on sale in the spring of 2012. Auto safety advocates say the high number of recalls is a sign of quality problems. Ford disputes that and says it is "committed to addressing potential issues and responding quickly."

GENEVA (AP) — The director-general of the World Trade Organization says negotiators have failed to put together a global trade deal ahead of next week's summit in Indonesia. The deal would have been the first in more than a decade and could have given the world economy a $1 trillion boost. The WTO's chief says diplomats from the organization's 159 member states made progress on many difficult issues but "stopped making the tough political calls" over the last few days, and negotiations ran aground.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumer confidence continues to wane. The Conference Board says that its index of has dropped to 70.4 this month as Americans expressed more concerns about hiring and pay increases in coming months. Confidence has now fallen for three straight months after reaching a five-year high in June.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. homebuilders are planning new construction at the fastest rate in more than five years. The Commerce Department says October permits were approved at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of more than 1 million, an increase of more than 6 percent over September. Nearly all of the increase was for multi-family homes, which rose more than 15.3 percent.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The rise in U.S. home prices is slowing. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 0.7 percent in September from August. Year over year, prices jumped 13.3 percent from September 2012, the fastest such gain since February 2006. Monthly price gains slowed in 19 of the 20 cities tracked by the index. Charlotte, N.C., was the exception.

NEW YORK (AP) — After rejecting a takeover bid from Jos. A. Bank, Men's Wearhouse is turning the tables and offering to buy its rival. The $1.54 billion offer works out to $55 per share, a 9 percent premium on Jos. A. Bank's Monday closing price. The offer comes less than two weeks after Jos. A. Bank withdrew its $2.3 billion bid for Men's Wearhouse.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — International stock markets mostly traded sideways today after a lull in Wall Street's record-breaking run ahead of a U.S. holiday. Benchmark crude oil rose to $94.50 a barrel. The dollar fell against the euro and the yen.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Today's economic data will be coming from private sector sources. Standard & Poor's releases the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices for September. A little later in the morning, the Conference Board releases its Consumer Confidence Index for November. Meanwhile, Tiffany and Barnes & Noble report their quarterly financial results before the market opens this morning. Hewlett-Packard reports its latest results after the market closes.

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang says Chinese investment in infrastructure construction, renewable energy and agriculture in eastern Europe will bring greater prosperity and jobs in the region. He spoke at the opening of a meeting with leaders from 16 central and eastern European nations. Three hundred Chinese business people accompanied Li for the meeting. Analysts say China sees eastern Europe as a gateway to the European Union.

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Internet gambling is officially off and running in New Jersey. Regulators have givin six casinos the green light to offer Internet gambling statewide after several days of live testing. One of the keys was a system to make sure gamblers using the service are within New Jersey.

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