Business Roundup for Wednesday, January 29

John Elway, executive VP of football operations of the Denver Broncos, signs a jersey on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are rising this morning. Strong earnings from Facebook and the government's report that the economy grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter are among the factors boosting shares. The Dow jumped nearly 100 points in the opening minutes of trading. It's given back some of those gains but remains well into positive territory. The broader indexes also are firmly higher. John Elway and the members of the Denver Broncos rang the opening bell.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Higher taxes and federal spending cuts held back economic growth last year, but the government's latest report shows the economy had some momentum as 2013 came to a close. The Commerce Department says U.S. economy grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter propelled by the strongest consumer spending in three years. That followed a 4.1 percent growth rate in the third quarter. The 16-day partial government shutdown in October cut fourth-quarter growth by about 0.3 percentage point.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people applying for unemployment benefits rose 19,000 last week to 348,000. The increase follows three weeks of declines. The Labor Department says the four-week average increased just 750 to 333,000. That is close to pre-recession levels and suggests that layoffs remain low. However, hiring will need to pick up to reduce the unemployment rate, which remains high at 6.7 percent.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy previously occupied homes in December. The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted index of pending home sales dropped 8.7 percent last month. That's the seventh straight monthly decline for the index. Rising mortgage rates and price increases crimped sales in recent months, while cold weather served as an additional drag in December. For the year, however, sales totaled 5.1 million, the highest in seven years.

FREMONT, Calif. (AP) — Men's Wearhouse is making another pitch to Jos. A. Bank, asking its rival to reconsider a $1.61 billion takeover offer. Men's Wearhouse says it could boost the offer if Jos. A. Bank can show it's worth more. It's also asking Jos. A. Bank to form a committee to reconsider merging the two companies. The takeover saga began in October when Jos. A. Bank made a $2.3 billion offer for Men's Wearhouse.

TOKYO (AP) — International stock markets were lower today as weak economic data from China and Japan deepened jitters over ongoing reductions in U.S. monetary stimulus. Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose above $97.50 a barrel. The dollar gained against the euro and the yen.

WASHINGTON — The government reports weekly jobless claims today as well as fourth quarter gross domestic product. Realtors release December's pending home sales index and Freddie Mac has weekly mortgage rates. Before the market opens, Exxon Mobil, 3M, Altria Group and Viacom are among the firms reporting quarterly earnings. After the close, it will be Google,, Visa and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Economists predict the government GDP report today on the October-December quarter will confirm a continuing economic recovery. Economists are forecasting an annual growth rate of 3.3 percent, after an even stronger 4.1 percent rate for July through September. Most economists think this year will see the strongest growth since the recession.

TOKYO (AP) — Nintendo has been unable to arrest a slide in console sales as more people play games on smartphones and tablets. The company's apparent solution? A move into health care. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata vowed today to stick to the company's old ways, refused to resign or cut product prices despite its dismal earnings, but said the video game maker will enter the health care industry. He gave no details.

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