Business Roundup for Tuesday, February 11


CVS/pharmacy (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Investors on Wall Street are finding plenty to cheer about from Washington today. There's word that the House is poised to vote on raising the debt limit this evening without the political drama over a possible default that happened last year. Investors are also welcoming new Fed Chair Janet Yellen's comments at a House hearing that she expects a "great deal of continuity" in policy with her predecessor. The Dow was up about 180 points in afternoon trading, while the S&P and the Nasdaq are both close to one percent higher.

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner says the House will vote on a measure increasing the government's borrowing limit that's free of any add-ons. Boehner announced the plan after a poll of the Republican rank and file failed to show enough support for a plan to tie the hike in the debt limit to a plan to reverse a recently passed cut to military pensions. A vote is expected this evening.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Labor Department says employers posted fewer job openings in December and hiring slowed. Still, the number of available jobs remained near a five and a-half-year high, at just under 4 million. Job openings are mostly back to pre-recession levels, but hiring is below the roughly 5 million a month that's typical for a healthy market.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A coalition of the nation's leading technology firms is pressing for changes in the government's surveillance programs. Top executives from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, AOL, LinkedIn and Twitter have sent a letter to President Barack Obama and members of Congress urging more limits on collections of Americans' data and greater oversight and transparency about the secret operations. The companies' action coincides with a day of protests against the Obama administration's surveillance policies.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is telling a House panel that if the economy keeps improving, the Fed will continue to trim the support it's been providing through monthly bond purchases. Yellen is making her first appearance on Capitol Hill since taking over as Fed chair last week. She says she expects a "great deal of continuity" with her predecessor, Ben Bernanke, and indicates she supports his view that interest rates should stay low to fuel further growth.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest economic data from the Commerce Department indicates that economy lost some momentum at the end of last year. Wholesale businesses increased stockpiles by 0.3 percent in December, the slowest pace since last summer. Bigger inventories accounted for more than 40 percent of economic growth from July through September, before slowing in the last three months of 2013. Rising stockpiles boost economic growth because they reflect expanding production at factories.

DATELINE (AP) — CVS Caremark shares are higher in morning trading after the company reported a 12 percent rise in fourth-quarter earnings, beating analysts' forecasts. Improved sales from established locations helped offset fewer customer visits. Pharmacy revenue climbed 6.8 percent, while revenue from the Caremark unit, which is one of the nation's largest pharmacy benefits managers, rose 5.2 percent.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Drugmakers working to develop a female equivalent to Viagra are facing a new hurdle. Sprout Pharmaceuticals says the Food and Drug Administration is demanding more studies on how the experimental pill, flibanserin, interacts with other medications and how it affects driving ability. Nearly 10 percent of women studied in company trials reported sleepiness while taking the daily pill. Still, the company's president describes the development as a "significant step" toward the drug's approval.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — International stock markets were higher today as investors waited for the new Federal Reserve chief's testimony to Congress. Janet Yellen's testimony might give clues to how quickly the U.S. central bank will withdraw its economic stimulus. Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose above $100.25 a barrel. The dollar gained against the yen and fell against the euro.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A multi-agency government task force looking into cyberattacks against retailers says it has not come across evidence suggesting the attacks are a coordinated campaign to adversely affect the U.S. economy. In a two-page report, the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force says the global implications of the retail attacks and the economic impact to private business and individual citizens cannot be overstated.

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