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Business Update for 1/2/14

Business news for Thursday, January 2.

New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange (Desiree Navarro/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are falling in early trading on Wall Street as the market comes off of its biggest annual gain in nearly two decades. The S&P 500 rose nearly 30 percent in 2013, its best year since 1997. The Dow Jones industrial average rose the most since 1995. The Nasdaq was up more than 38 percent for the year.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Labor Department says the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dipped 2,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 339,000, while the less volatile four-week average rose 8,500 to 357,250. The numbers have been affected in recent weeks by seasonal volatility around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturing grew at a healthy pace in December as factories stepped up hiring and received more orders. The Institute for Supply Management says its index of manufacturing activity slipped to 57 from 57.3 in November. But that’s still the second-highest reading in the past 2 ½ years. Any reading above 50 signals growth. A measure of new orders rose to the highest level since April 2010 and a gauge of hiring increased to its highest level since June 2011. Production and a measure of manufacturers’ stockpiles fell.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department says construction spending increased 1 percent in November, the strongest pace since March 2009 and a slight improvement over October’s gain. Residential construction rose 1.9 percent, after falling in October. Commercial projects increased 2.7 percent in November, while government construction spending fell 1.8 percent after strong gains in October.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average rates for fixed mortgages have edged higher for the third straight week but are still low by historical standards. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average for the 30-year loan rose to 4.53 percent this week from 4.48 percent last week. The average for the 15-year loan increased to 3.55 percent from 3.52 percent.

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s the first day of trading in 2014 and investors are hoping the stock market will climb even higher after closing out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday. The S&P 500 rose seven points to 1,848 before the holiday break. The Dow rose 72 points to 16,576. And the Nasdaq rose 22 points to close out 2013 at 4,176.

BEIJING (AP) — International stock markets have been mixed today and a few remain closed for a holiday. Investors showed concern when Chinese manufacturing data suggested the world’s second-largest economy might be slowing. The dollar gained against the euro and the yen. Oil prices rose nearer to $99 a barrel.

WASHINGTON — Investors will be looking closely at several economic reports today. They’re hoping to glean from them if the U.S. economy is on the right track for the new year. The government’s weekly jobless claims number is likely to carry the most weight. There are three other reports today. They deal with November construction spending, December manufacturing and weekly mortgage rates.

MIAMI (AP) — The so-called “young invincibles” are so important to the success of the Affordable Care Act that supporters and detractors are spending millions to reach them with racy ads, social media campaigns and celebrity endorsements. The president is even asking their mothers to help convince them to sign up for insurance. The federal government and states running their own exchanges have launched marketing efforts for this crucial demographic of healthy young adults, but it’s unclear if the messages are getting through.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Ford plans to unveil at this month’s International CES gadget show a solar-powered concept car that offers the same performance as a plug-in hybrid but without the need for a plug. The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept car uses a gasoline engine combined with a gizmo that acts like a magnifying glass to concentrate the sun’s rays on the vehicle’s roof-mounted solar panels. It also has a plug-in receptacle. The automaker says the vehicle’s estimated combined city-highway mileage is 100 mpg.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

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