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Business Update for 12/31/13

Business news for Tuesday, December 31.

Netflix (Arthur Simoes/Getty Images for Netflix)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are heading higher in late morning trading today, as investors close out their positions on the last day of trading for 2013. The Dow Jones industrial average is up 34 points, to 16,538. The S&P 500 is up four points, to 1,845. And the Nasdaq composite is up 14 points, to 4,168.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Home prices in most U.S. cities increased at a slower pace in October from September, as higher mortgage rates weighed on sales and dampened the housing recovery. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 0.2 percent from September to October, down from a 0.7 percent increase from August to September.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence rose this month on a better outlook for hiring and growth. The Conference Board says its index of consumer confidence rose to 78.1 in December, up from 72 in the previous month. Consumer confidence is closely watched because consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.

UNDATED (AP) — Netflix is testing new price plans for streaming video as it tries to lure more viewers. Among the plans being tested are a $6.99-a-month plan that allows only one video stream to be watched at once, and a $9.99-a-month plan that allows three streams at one time, whether on a TV, tablet or computer. A Netflix spokesman says not everyone will see the test prices and they may never roll out system wide.

DEERFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Walgreen says it will fill prescriptions at no upfront cost to some patients who don’t have all the information they need for coverage received through the health care overhaul. Walgreen says it’ll provide up to a 30-day supply of some branded and generic medicines. The offer does not include complex and expensive medications like cancer drugs or treatments for rare diseases.

NEW YORK (AP) — No matter what happens today, it has been pretty much a banner year for Wall Street investors. The S&P 500 is up 29.1 percent so far, on pace for its best year since 1997. The Dow is up 26 percent, the most since 1996. Futures point to modest gains at this morning’s opening.

TOKYO (AP) — International stock markets were mixed today in thin pre-holiday trading, with early gains in some markets succumbing to selling pressure as roller-coaster 2013 wound to a close. French and British markets scheduled half-day trading while Germany’s DAX was closed for the holiday. The dollar gained against the euro and was essentially unchanged against the yen. Benchmark crude oil fell below $100 per barrel.

NEW YORK (AP) — A Washington lawyer monitoring Apple Inc. compliance with antitrust laws after a judge found it conspired with publishers to raise electronic book prices says the company is obstructing his work. Attorney Michael Bromwich said in a document filed in Manhattan federal court that he’s been largely cut off from top executives at Apple, which argued earlier this month that his investigation was interfering with its business operations.

SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing Co. told political leaders in Washington state that this week’s vote by Machinists will determine the fate of some jobs on the new 777X airplane. Local political leaders say Boeing executive Ray Conner told them that an accepted contract will ensure that work on the airplane’s wing stays in the Puget Sound, but a vote to reject the deal will ensure the jobs go elsewhere.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Warren Buffett’s company has agreed to trade roughly $1.4 billion of its stock in Phillips 66 for one of the refiner’s chemical businesses. Houston-based Phillips 66 says Berkshire Hathaway will give up about 19 million of its 27.2 million Phillips 66 shares to acquire a business that makes additives that help crude oil flow through pipelines.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

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