Update on the latest in business:


Associated Press

Posted on November 25, 2013 at 5:02 AM


S&P 500 closes above 1,800 for first time

UNDATED (AP) — The bulls are running on Wall Street and many traders are wondering how long the good times will last.

The stock market brushed past another milestone on Friday.

The S&P 500 index closed above 1,800 for the first time, capping seven straight weeks of gains.

The broader index is on track for its best performance in 15 years as a combination of solid corporate earnings, a strengthening economy and easy-money policies from the Federal Reserve draw investors to stocks.

On Friday, the S&P 500 index rose nine points, to 1,804. The index has advanced 26.5 percent in 2013. If it finishes at that level, it would be its strongest year since a 26.7 percent gain in 1998.

The Dow Jones industrial average also continued its upward march after finishing above 16,000 for the first time Thursday. The index gained 55 points, to 16,064 on Friday.

The Nasdaq composite rose 22 points, to 3,991.


Asia stocks lifted by Wall St winning streak, Iran

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets rose today after Wall Street posted its seventh straight week of gains and a nuclear deal between world powers and Iran boosted sentiment.

Appetite for stocks was energized by Wall Street's string of milestones and an easing of political risk signaled by the first significant progress in years to curtail Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Wall Street continued to be lifted by the Federal Reserve's super easy monetary policy, signs of gradual improvement in the U.S. economy and rising company profits.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell to just above $94 a barrel. The dollar gained against the yen and was little changed against the euro.


Business events and economic reports scheduled for this week

UNDATED (AP) — The government isn't scheduled to release any economic reports today but the rest of the holiday-shortened week will be packed with news.

On Tuesday, there are two reports from the Commerce Department: housing starts for September and October; and third-quarter gross domestic product. Also on Tuesday, Standard & Poor's releases the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices for September and the third quarter, and The Conference Board releases the Consumer Confidence Index for November.

Several businesses will report their quarterly earnings reports today. Tiffany & Co. and Barnes & Noble report before the market opens. Hewlett-Packard reports after the bell.

On Wednesday, the Labor Department releases the weekly jobless claims early because the markets are closed for the Thanksgiving holiday. Also, the Commerce Department releases the durable goods numbers for October as well as personal income and spending for October. Also, Freddie Mac reports weekly mortgage rates.


US gas prices up average of 3 cents a gallon

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — After nine weeks of falling gas prices, the average U.S. price of a gallon of gasoline is up 3 cents over the past two weeks.

The Lundberg Survey of fuel prices released Sunday says the price of a gallon of regular is $3.25. Midgrade costs an average of $3.44 a gallon, and premium is $3.59.

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said it's the first price hike since Sept. 6.

Of the cities surveyed in the Lower 48 states, the highest average, $3.58 a gallon, was found in San Diego. The lowest, $2.93, was in Tulsa, Okla.


Boeing advises about engine icing problems

WASHINGTON (AP) — Boeing is alerting airlines about possible engine icing problems on some of its new planes. It is recommending that planes with a specific General Electric engine avoid flying near thunderstorms that might contain ice crystals.

Boeing says it issued the advisory after ice crystal formation in some instances diminished engine performance. Airlines with planes affected include United, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa and Air India. Models affected are the 747-8 and the 787, which Boeing Co. calls the Dreamliner.

Boeing recommended that affected planes fly at least 50 nautical miles from thunderstorms that may contain ice crystals.

It's the latest problem to confront the 787. Earlier this year, air safety authorities grounded the 787 after two planes suffered from smoldering batteries. Flights resumed after Boeing redesigned the battery system.


Boeing solicits bids for site of 777X production

SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing Co. is soliciting bids from more than a dozen locations that want to build the new 777X airplane.

Company spokesman Doug Alder said Saturday that requests for bids began going out Friday. Boeing wants the proposals returned in a few weeks, and the company hopes to make a final decision early next year.

Alder declined to specify the locations but said each had asked for the chance to compete for the 777X work and met the company's qualifications.

Officials in Alabama, California, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas and Utah are among those who have talked about trying to lure Boeing. Production of the plane will likely mean thousands of long-term jobs for whichever location Boeing selects.

Boeing had initially offered to build the 777X in Washington state, but the machinists union rejected a proposed contract. Washington state officials still plan to compete for the work.


Iowans worry about ethanol's lost political clout

ALTOONA, Iowa (AP) — Iowa's governor and congressional delegation are trying to shore up political support for ethanol, which is slipping as the nation produces more of its own oil.

Gov. Terry Branstad is pushing to reverse the Obama administration's proposal to cut the required amount of ethanol in the nation's fuel supply. Almost half of Iowa's corn crop goes to manufacture the grain alcohol, which is blended into gasoline.

Presidential candidates traditionally supported the federal mandate when they campaigned in Iowa, but many now say it is no longer justified. Environmentalists have complained about impact of expanded corn production. But Branstad says the federal mandate is important to Iowa farmers with corn prices low.


Americans not willing to spend without deals

NEW YORK (AP) — This holiday season, Americans may not spend their green unless they see more red.

Despite signs that the economy is improving, big store chains don't expect Americans to have much holiday shopping cheer unless they see bold, red signs offering huge discounts. As a result, shoppers likely will see big sales events earlier and more often than in previous holiday seasons.

It's a problem that retailers know all too well. Since the recession began in late 2007, stores have had to offer financially-strapped Americans ever bigger price cuts just to get them into stores. But those discounts eat away at profits. So far, Wal-Mart, Target and Kohl's are among more than two dozen major chains that have lowered their profit outlooks for either the quarter or the year.


Longtime Progressive CEO Peter Lewis dies at 80

MAYFIELD VILLAGE, Ohio (AP) — Progressive insurance chairman and longtime chief executive Peter Lewis has died. He was 80.

Philanthropic adviser Jennifer Frutchy says the billionaire supporter of medical marijuana legalization died Saturday at his home in Coconut Grove, Fla.

Lewis became CEO of Progressive Corp. at its inception in 1965. When he stepped down in 2000 it had grown into one of the largest auto insurers in the country.

Progressive President and CEO Glenn Renwick says the company owes its growth and its culture of openness to Lewis. He says Lewis' caring and honesty are "bedrock" values of the company.

Lewis became a supporter of marijuana legalization after using it following a leg amputation. He also served as the chairman of the Guggenheim Museum board of trustees before stepping down in 2005.


'Catching Fire' opens with $161.1M

NEW YORK (AP) — The "Hunger Games" sequel "Catching Fire" opened with $161.1 million at the box office, narrowly besting the original film and setting a record for a November opening.

The result, from studio estimates Sunday, fell short of some expectations, and failed to dethrone the year's biggest box-office opening of $174 million for "Iron Man 3." But it did best the previous top November opening of $142.9 million by "Twilight Saga: New Moon."

But the bigger budget and better reviewed "Hunger Games: Catching Fire" is doing far better abroad than the 2012 original. It opened with $146.6 million internationally.

The domestic total included Thursday night screenings that made approximately $25 million. The film's three-day weekend total of $136.1 million was actually less than "The Hunger Games."